in search of CPA...duties

6 Replies

Didn't know where else to post this....

For those that have CPAs whether for the first time or habitual use, do you get an electronic organizer each  year to fill in all your 1099- info, w2 (if you have), SchE data, etc or do you just give your forms to your CPA and let them key in all the info. I'm curious if spending that much time to key in the same info that the CPA will be putting into the software, seems like double duty.

I know professional software save the information that is carried forward to the next year to make it easy to update or enter information. Such as address that will likely be the same so it's already there and for the rentals (SchE) that info is there but expenses will be updated.

@Daria B. when I ask new clients why they've switched CPAs, this almost always comes up. "I'm sent a 50 pg organizer which I fill out and then feel like I've done all the work."

This year we're sending a 1 to 2 page organizer depending on the type of client. 

In my opinion, organizers are necessary to make sure that the following information is captured:

  • Address, birth date, dependents, and health insurance
  • Information subject to change (i.e. address, rentals, business ownership)
  • Entities that you own a stake in
  • Entities that we need to be aware of for tax compliance purposes (i.e. are you needing your CPA to file a 1065 for your partnership? If yes, that's good info for us to have)

The organizer should generally ask certain questions that CPAs are required to ask, such as "do you have health care?"

But here's the funny part that many CPAs don't tell their clients. CPAs can print fillable organizers per client from their professional tax prep software. If you receive a 50 page organizer, that's exactly what is happening. The best part is that when the client fills out the organizer online or via computer, I can simply import the information into my tax prep software and BAM! I'm pretty much done with the return.

But that's lazy. And it's not very customizeable. Many CPAs swear by it, but then they eventually lose their clients because their client experience sucks. Clients don't want to thumb through a 50 page organizer. 

Ironically, with our 1-2 page organizer, our data collection process is much more intuitive and thorough than it ever was with the 50 page organizer. In fact, we now collect data all 12 months of the year rather than waiting for the client to provide everything in January and February. 

The end result is a seamless tax prep process and a WOW client experience. 

@Daria B.

Some CPA just need forms like W2, 1099 etc and key in the information by their staff. Also they will call you for any questions they have. Some prefer clients to do most of  the data entry in terms of filing out organizer. It varies CPA by CPA. Personally I don't like organizer as it duplicates the work rather I have quick call with client in case of any question. Also help me to have more active communication with the client.

Originally posted by @Jay Patadia :

@Daria B.

Some CPA just need forms like W2, 1099 etc and key in the information by their staff. Also they will call you for any questions they have. Some prefer clients to do most of  the data entry in terms of filing out organizer. It varies CPA by CPA. Personally I don't like organizer as it duplicates the work rather I have quick call with client in case of any question. Also help me to have more active communication with the client.

 "duplicates work" is what I was thinking exactly. If I mis-key then it's going to get translated as such. If I just hand over forms then I can just check the completed forms. I already check it after it's done but it seems that this organizer just makes it more time on my end when I'm paying the CPA to do the taxes. Since this seems to be different across CPAs and not knowing what to ask up front could have saved some time.

Originally posted by @Brandon Hall :

@Daria B. when I ask new clients why they've switched CPAs, this almost always comes up. "I'm sent a 50 pg organizer which I fill out and then feel like I've done all the work."

This year we're sending a 1 to 2 page organizer depending on the type of client. 

In my opinion, organizers are necessary to make sure that the following information is captured:

  • Address, birth date, dependents, and health insurance
  • Information subject to change (i.e. address, rentals, business ownership)
  • Entities that you own a stake in
  • Entities that we need to be aware of for tax compliance purposes (i.e. are you needing your CPA to file a 1065 for your partnership? If yes, that's good info for us to have)

The organizer should generally ask certain questions that CPAs are required to ask, such as "do you have health care?"

But here's the funny part that many CPAs don't tell their clients. CPAs can print fillable organizers per client from their professional tax prep software. If you receive a 50 page organizer, that's exactly what is happening. The best part is that when the client fills out the organizer online or via computer, I can simply import the information into my tax prep software and BAM! I'm pretty much done with the return.

But that's lazy. And it's not very customizeable. Many CPAs swear by it, but then they eventually lose their clients because their client experience sucks. Clients don't want to thumb through a 50 page organizer. 

Ironically, with our 1-2 page organizer, our data collection process is much more intuitive and thorough than it ever was with the 50 page organizer. In fact, we now collect data all 12 months of the year rather than waiting for the client to provide everything in January and February. 

The end result is a seamless tax prep process and a WOW client experience. 

 Yup you wrapped that up in a nut shell. The pages are less but it's something that I didn't do last year. It may also be that the CPA relocated out of my home area so going into the office to drop off forms and talk is no longer an option.

Regarding the form input, it has those items you mentioned above (ie health care and other questions) but the remainder is as though I'm filling out the actual tax form, ie SchE. I said I would see how this goes this year but I'm already not happy that this organizer, after opening it, has me sitting here translating my info.

@Daria B.

In my firm, we use our proprietary organizers designed in-house specifically for REI. They ask a lot of questions that you cannot find on the IRS forms.

We instruct our clients to never copy data from IRS forms to the organizer though. Instead they simply check a box that says "see attached Form 1098" etc.

I wanted to circle back to this and close it out. 

When I posted this I had not been able to speak with my CPA and today I got clarification on what was sent. 

Essentially, all my docs (ie w2, 1095, SchE that I put together already and update throughout the year) will be sent and he will do the entering of these numbers. He said he sends it out and some clients choose to spend that time and update the organizer while others (like me) only fill out the check box questionnaire that collects information regarding changes in the year. Then he has some that don't even open it. LOL He's not particular but we never talked about this so I was shocked when I got it.

Thanks @Brandon Hall you were the one that gave us (BP) that sample PnL and I use it to enter all my rental income/expenses and keeps track of my depreciating items.

@Jay Patadia I agree on the duplication of work but now that I have a better understanding of this "organizer" and how  you guys and my CPA view it, I will be a better client. :-)

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