Sunday, April 16, 2017


Yes, please, automate my job.

The software we already use comes close and I suspect the IRS has some pretty sophisticated software to process all those tax returns on their end. It won't be long and Amen to that.

The last week before Tax Day is when the most complicated returns get done. (Extended, to be precise.) I don't know why this is - whether it's on the part of the taxpayer or the tax preparer or a combination of both. Just a week ago, a client came in with 300 pages of tax documents. (That's an exaggeration. It was actually a little more.) Can we get an extension ready for him, he wants to know.

While an extension is a single piece of paper, it's worthless if a reasonable attempt to prepare the return and estimate the tax has not been made. An extension only provides additional time to file the return, not pay the tax, so the return needs to get at least to the point of figuring out whether the taxpayer needs to pay and how much.

I am thankful to my employer who has invested in the software that helps me get through those 300 pages in a matter of a couple hours. 300 pages (whether paper or digital images) get converted to TIF files which get read by software that organizes them into sorted and bookmarked PDFs. Another process extracts the information to populate the tax return in the tax program. And viola. Tax return.

Not exactly that simple but it's getting better every year. The software doesn't read most deductions yet, for example. (Or capital gains or losses from sale of stock.) Which means, I'm late for work. I was handed a list yesterday of the returns that still need to get extended. It was in teeny tiny print so it was only the length of my arm.

Please send coffee to my work address. If you can't do that, bring coffee to your closest tax preparer. I guarantee they will appreciate it. (And there's a pretty good chance they're in the office today.)

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