According to the IRS, the average American takes 11 hours to prepare their tax return. That includes the time spent in gathering and organizing documents as well as actually sitting down to fill out your tax return forms. For many people, that time could be better spent doing virtually anything else.
Having a tax professional handle your tax needs takes that burden off of your hands. Instead, a professional accountant, tax preparer, or CPA can often take considerably less time to do your taxes. However, each return is very different, and many returns are simply much more time consuming to complete than others.
Which Types of Returns Will Take More Time?
If you have a W2, do not itemize your expenses, and have no dependents, your taxes are going to take far less time to complete compared to someone who has a very complicated return. Returns that require more time will often involve these elements:
- Rental property
- Multiple income sources
- Investment income
- Partnership or S-Corp Income
- Itemized expenses
- Foreign income
- Multiple dependents
- Claiming the Earned Income or other tax credits
- Using unique credits (such as investment or energy-efficient home improvements)
In some situations, taxpayers will have a combination of these various financial situations.
Unfortunately, asking how much time it will take to complete a return is a lot like asking a contractor how long it will take to build a house without showing them the plans first. Once your tax professional sees your unique financial situation, they will have a lot better idea of how long filing your return will take.
Tips for Getting Your Tax Return Processed Quickly
- Organize your tax documents effectively.
One of the best ways to ensure that your tax return is completed and filed quickly is to have your documents all accounted for and organized. Your tax professional cannot input information into your return if you do not provide it to them.
Gathering and organizing all of the information you need ahead of time will significantly speed up the process. It will also increase the likelihood that you take full advantage of every tax deduction and credit that you are entitled to receive.
Keep in mind that handing your CPA a shoebox full of receipts is undoubtedly going to take more time to process compared to a spreadsheet with all of your expenses totaled throughout the year.
- Start the filing process early.
Many people wait until the last possible second to get their CPA their tax information. By that time, your CPA is already overworked and rushed. Instead, getting them in the information as soon as you have it will let them process the information faster when there is no “waiting line.”
Your CPA will also have more time to review your potential deductions and credits, too. That can give them more time to talk to you about possible deductions and credits that you can use this year or next year.
- Respond to requests for additional information quickly.
If your tax preparer requests additional data, it’s likely they have already been through your information once. Something may have been clearly missing or just not seem right. Getting them that information quickly will allow them to continue to work on your return before they move on to someone else.
Timing Considerations with COVID-19
The tax timeline for this year has been adjusted significantly because of COVID-19 or the coronavirus. The original filing deadline was changed from March or April 15th to July 15th. Extended Partnership and S-Corporation returns are still due on September 15th while other extended Corporate and Individual tax returns are due October 15th. However, that does not mean that you should wait to file your returns. The IRS reports that they are expecting the tax return review and processing timeline will remain the same. Thus, getting your return in now will help you get your refund faster in many cases.
If you want a better estimate of how long your taxes will take, give our office a call. We can review your tax situation and provide a proper assessment of when you can expect your tax return to be filed. Call our Meriden office at 203-634-7549 or our Madison office at 203-318-1488. You can also fill out our contact form to have a member of our team contact you.