Financial Advice: What To Take To A Meeting With Your Tax Advisor

List of documents and records you should save, file and bring with you when you meet with a tax advisor.

Meeting with a professional tax advisor and knowing what documents to bring with you is a vital step toward a positive financial future.

Before consulting with a tax advisor, it is essential to select a professional who will take a vested interest in the account. Selecting that individual or firm should be approached with the highest of priority. Compatibility, credentials, and past performance are key areas to note in the selection process.

Consult family and friends for recommendations; verify references with local Chamber's of Commerce and of course, the Better Business Bureau for reputability. The BBB also has an online Internet form available at no cost, specifically for entering business reputation queries. The website will then display a record of compliments, and more importantly complaints.

After selecting several firms, take the opportunity to meet with them before making a commitment. Personalities sometime clash, and this is one area where everyone needs to be comfortable. After all, this is about financial security, your financial security. The selected professional should reflect a dedicated interest in devising a strategy that meets your best interests, financial stability, and personal requirements.

Do stop for a moment to consider the range of advisor and portfolio fees and associated or hidden costs before making a critical final decision.

After the introductory meeting, the tax advisor should provide informational documents and a collection of worksheets to return at the assessment and strategy meeting. A personal financial status sheet may also be requested for the first meeting. It may include information on monthly household budget and expenses, payroll information, investments, and recent income tax return data, and is a typical inclusion required for the tax advisor to prepare for the actual meeting. Completing the worksheets and/or documentation, as well as providing copies of all requested information at or before the meeting, will result in a more accurate financial outcome.

Each tax advisor has a unique approach and may or may not require all of the documentation listed here.

- Income Tax Records (State and Federal for the past 3-5 years and applicable worksheets)

- Mortgage Documents

- Mortgage interest statements

- Investment Portfolio (if applicable)

- Retirement Accounts (401k, IRA, company pensions, etc.)

- Bank Statements (Checking, savings, Christmas, and vacation funds)

- Life Insurance Policies

- Health Insurance Premiums

- Records of major medical costs

- Payroll Records (include amounts of Cafeteria Plans)

- Children's and/or dependent's income from wages or investments.

- Tuition Statements

- Charitable donations (Include list of regular contributions, as well as desired objectives for future contributions.)

- Monthly household budget (Include payment amount details for house(s), car(s), utilities, all credit cards, insurance, food, clothing and laundry expenses, dining and entertainment costs, etc. Be sure to include a list of monthly recurring and one-time, occasional, or irregular expenses.)

- Legal personal identification (State or Military Driver's License, or State or Military Identification Card)

- A brief summary of your financial goals, both short-term, and long-term.

Finally, should any unanswered questions remain, or unclear areas that need further assessment, don't just ask, insist that they be addressed before committing to a plan that may not be right for you. Tax advisors will direct you to the best path suited to your resources, and their knowledge is an integral part of the financial planning process and your future.

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