Dear Clients and Friends,
Last year we welcomed you to a new decade and boy… did this past year feel like one! While it was a tough year on a lot of us, we learned some valuable lessons on how to live our lives and support our neighbors. While the landscape of our world has vastly changed, as one of our most important stakeholders, we take our responsibility to you, especially in these difficult times, very seriously. At SPM&Co, we were able to learn some new things on the fly with only a few bumps and bruises along the way. Overall, we found that we could quickly pivot as SPM&Co was an early adopter of a paperless environment, remote work arrangements for our team, and technology that allowed for us to partner with our Clients virtually. This helped us stay ahead of the curve and gave us the ability to provide our clients with the same great quality of service we are known for while also keeping you, your families, and our team safe and healthy in the process. To that end, we are continuing to follow safety guidelines resulting in new practices and procedures when serving our Clients. While we love meeting with you face to face (especially over coffee), we have learned that in-person meetings are not required to keep a great partnership. The 2020 tax year filing season will look a little different again this year, however, our standard of service and the partnership experience will remain the same.
2020 Tax Year Filing Season Tax Preparation
As our office continually strives to be a paper-free company and an effort to help keep the Cape Green – We will be using email, our website, our secure portal, and our blog to keep you informed as well provide checklists for the upcoming tax season in leu of sending documents via snail mail. Please be sure to keep an eye on your email!
Or feel free to download checklist directly from our website.
Our checklists serve as an essential tool that not only provides you with a list of the source documents and information needed by us to prepare your tax return but also help us gain a complete picture and a better understanding of your 2020 story so that we can follow-up with the appropriate questions and do the best job possible for you.
If you take a couple of extra minutes to double-check that you are sending us complete information, it will save a lot of time and we will be able to complete your tax returns sooner! Many people send in “most” of their documents, but a couple of items are left out. Please keep in mind that we will not work on your file until we have all your documents. Using the checklist is a great way to ensure that you didn’t forget anything!
Things do change, especially at a time like this. One of the additional challenges of 2020 (as if we didn’t have enough already) will be encompassing some of the additional requirements of the “CARES Act” and the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021” and how they pertain to your tax returns and reporting thereon. Identification of new requirements and how they were used throughout your year can sometimes be tough to navigate, so to help with organization, we put together a checklist of the specific aspects that we need to be made aware in preparation to complete your tax return. These are a MUST-DO as they can save you and us a lot of time and headache in avoiding tax notices post tax season. Once you send us these and the information that pertains, we will be in a better spot to start your filing.
Some additional important changes to note during your organization/ preparation phase would be if you refinanced – make a note to that effect: “My mortgage was refinanced in May and we now have a loan through XX Bank”. Did you get a new job in 2020? Was your job situation affected by the pandemic? Did you move, or have a child? Did your student loan get sold to a different lender? These notes allow us to quickly address what needs to be changed, if they are not present, it could have the potential to slow the process down.
Please note we are kindly asking that you DO NOT staple your source documents together. All source documents are scanned into our system and electronically stored with hard copies being returned to our Clients. Staples slow the scanning process down.
Sending in complete information benefits everyone. We can’t stress this enough – our staff CANNOT begin to work on your returns until ALL necessary documents have been received by our office. Thanks in advance for your cooperation!
The 2020 Tax Year Filing Season Process
Our office will stay closed for outside appointments and meetings. While we were excited to show you around our new office, and hang out and plan with you face to face, we have decided that for the safety of our Clients we must follow recommended guidelines set by the CDC to keep socially distant. While we are not scheduling in-person meetings at this time, we have added some new lines of communication, so we don’t skip a beat.
Virtual Meetings: We have migrated to virtual meetings as well as meetings over the phone. We have incorporated the Microsoft Teams platform to our communication line-up, allowing us to set, schedule and meet easily and efficiently. This video conferencing platform is simple to set up and easy to use as it can be downloaded or used via web on your phone, tablet, or computer so you can quickly meet with us from the comfort of your own home. Tell us what time you want the meeting, and we will email you a simple link that takes you right to the video conference!
Phone: As always, we are happy to schedule a phone conference call. While video conferencing is a great avenue, we understand there are days where your feel like your house is a mess or you are just didn’t want to migrate from your PJs. If you need us still feel free to pick up the phone and give us a call!
Client Portal: Our client portal is a secure place to upload all your tax related documents. Our portal is simple and easy to navigate. It also lends the opportunity to upload your documents right from the comfort of your own home. If you haven’t registered, no worries! Just call the office or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you set it up within minutes!
Mail: You can still send your documents via mail. If you choose this route, please be sure to take into account the additional time it will take for us to receive documents and please try to have your documents fully complete and organized so we don’t run into that infamous snail mail time crunch.
Email: Questions you have about your filing or return can be answered by one of our team members via email, however, we do not recommend sending personal or financial information through this line of communication due to its unsecure nature.
Secure Dropoff: While we would recommend uploading documents virtually through our portal, if there is any reason you would need to drop of documents in a physical format you can do so by using our secure dropbox located at the rear entrance of the building. The secure dropbox is routinely checked through each workday (M-F, 9am-5pm).
Curbside Pickup: If you have physical documents that you need to pick up, we ask that when arriving at the office, you call the front desk, and we will bring the documents out to your car.
Please plan to send us your complete information as early as possible. For Clients who submit their information after Monday, March 22, 2021 we cannot guarantee that we will be able to complete the returns by April 15th. They will be placed on extension. (As always, we will make every effort to complete your tax returns by April 15th, but it is much less likely if we do not have all of your information by March 22nd.)
What Does it Mean to File an Extension?
Extensions are quite common due to the ever-increasing complexity of the tax laws. I place both my business and personal returns on extension, without fail! An extension is a form filed with the IRS and the State to request additional time to file your tax return. The extension period is 6 months, which extends the due date for submitting your final tax returns from April 15 to October 15. It is common practice for CPAs to set a cut-off date for Clients to submit their tax information so that they can plan their workload and ensure all client returns and extensions are completed by April 15.
If we are going to file an extension for you, we will discuss whether you owe more tax than you have already paid during the year. If you do, a payment is required by April 15 with your extension. This payment can be made electronically with the filings of your extension. It is important that we have accurate Bank Account information for you on file to ensure that the payments to the IRS and State are made in a timely manner.
When your tax returns are ready, we will contact you immediately to coordinate delivery. Our standard “turn-around” time for individual returns is 14 days (once all information is received). Placing multiple calls to the office to check the status of your tax returns slows our process down. We appreciate your patience and ask that you keep this type of call to a minimum.
Signature Pages (e-file forms) and Payment
If you are filing joint tax returns, both parties must sign the e-files. Our documents are equipped with Right-signature, allowing you to virtually e-sign the appropriate documents. Payment of your invoice is required at the time of delivery of the completed tax returns. Important: We cannot submit the electronic files to the IRS and State without signed e-File authorization forms and full payment.
As always, we look forward to working with you again this year. Please do not hesitate to call our office if you have any questions. We appreciate your business and continued support.
Stephan P. McMahon CPA & CVA