What tax pros want from their small business clients

If you have a small business, or are an accountant working for a small business, chances are you use a tax professional to prepare your tax returns. Now that we’re in the heart of “Busy Season”, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the information you send to us and what you can do to make our jobs easier.

Making our job easier helps us keep your fees down and also helps us get through your returns and all our other client’s returns more efficiently.

What tax pros want from their small business clients

1. Financials in Excel format

Small businesses should be using some form of financial accounting software to run and manage your business. (If you’re not, let me know and I can help you get started). When you run these reports, you typically have the option to save them as a PDF file or export them to Excel. Always use the Excel method for reports that you’re sending to your tax professional.

We use custom templates that will guide our work and we will be able to insert your Excel information into our templates. This makes our job easier, especially since most of us don’t use any paper files anymore.

2. Show the tax year and prior year amounts

I know you’re perfect and never intentionally change a transaction in a prior year. But, unfortunately, this happens all too frequently. When you provide us a report that shows a column for the tax year (the year we’re preparing the return for) plus a column for the prior year, we can quickly find where any change was made and this speeds us up in identifying how to handle the change for the tax return. We’ll probably have to stop and ask you for more information, but at least it helps us focus in on the specific account.

3. Show the header information on the Excel screen

This is an issue that really surprises me, but it’s all too common. For some reason, Quickbooks defaults to putting the header information in the header section of the Excel sheet. This is great if you’re going to print the Excel file, however, most tax professionals are going to be working in the Excel file. So, we can’t see the header information unless we use do a print preview.

If you aren’t familiar with how to do this, in Quickbooks you have to go to the advanced settings and find the printing option “Show report header:” and then “On printed report and screen.”

Picture showing how to select the option to print report header on report and screen
When exporting reports from QuickBooks into Excel, use advanced setting to have report header printed on the screen.

If you’re wondering why this important, consider that we might have multiple Excel files open at one time and this visually helps us find the right one we’re looking for. Another reason is that it will show the time and date the report was created. This is helpful for us to see in case you send over an updated report. It helps us find the most recent version to use when preparing your tax return.

I know you’re probably getting your financials ready to send to your tax professional so hopefully these tips will help you know what to send. Even if these tips aren’t communicated to you, believe me, your tax professional will be more than happy if you follow these tips when getting your reports ready to send.