How to Conduct a Tax Interview

Conducting a tax interview helps you prepare before beginning a client's taxes.

Conducting a tax interview helps you prepare before beginning a client's taxes.

Tax preparers have a duty to ask questions and ask for certain documentation from a client. If you're new to the tax preparation business, before you can begin, you must conduct a tax interview, which helps you to gain an understanding of your client's needs. During the initial interview, you must find out whether the client claims dependents and tax credits and the type of income the client receives. Using this information, you will have the tools to select the proper tax form and prepare an adequate return.

Ask the client for his personal information, which includes name, date of birth, address and Social Security number. Request a copy of the client's Social Security card and driver's license or state ID to verify the information. If the client is married, you'll also need his spouse's information. If the client plans to have a refund deposited into his bank account, the client should also provide you with his bank account information, which includes his bank routing and account number.

Request the name, relationship, date of birth and Social Security number of each dependent the client is claiming on the return. You also need to know how many months each dependent lived with the client during the past year.

Ask the client for a copy of his last year's tax return. To file electronically, you must know the client's adjusted gross income for the previous year and his personal identification number, or PIN.

Request copies of the client's income forms. These forms can include W-2s, 1099s, self-employment records and business records. If the client has rental income, the client should provide you with rent receipts or a similar statement that includes his rental income.

Question whether the client has any adjustments, which can include moving expenses, IRA contributions, teacher expenses, student loan interest and higher education expenses. If the client does have adjustments, request receipts for the expense.

Inquire on the client's deductions. If the client plans to itemize deductions, he should provide you with receipts for medical expenses, mortgage interest, contributions to charity, taxes, work-related expenses and real estate or property taxes. If the client owns a business, the client should present receipts for business expenses.

Ask the client for any documents on additional tax credits, such as the child and dependent care credit, retirement savings contributions credit or adoption credit. The client should provide you with proof of expenses, which will help you determine whether the client qualifies.

 

About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

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