Do you know what you will be charged for tax preparation this year? Or are you like the vast majority of Canadians who simply cross their fingers, hold their breath and wait until the accounting invoice arrives? Here are five ways to lessen your bill and your frustrations after tax season.

1. Understand exactly what and how you are charged.

Most people have no idea how they are charged by their accountant or tax professionals. Most tax professionals do a poor job of communicating their value to clients either because they are not pressed to do otherwise, or they simply do not provide much value.

It starts with you as the client. Push for clearer disclosure and communication about your accounting and tax filing process. After all, it's your money and your life.

โ€2. Get better organized.

If you bring in a shoe box full of tattered paper receipts to your accountant, expect to be charged more for your tax preparation. Not only will solid bookkeeping give you a clear understanding of how your business is progressing financially, it will also save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on unnecessary accounting fees.

Bookkeeping is far cheaper than accounting, so take the time to ensure your books are as tight and clean as possible before they land on your accountant's desk. Not sure how to do this? Ask. A great accountant and tax professional should be willing to assist and teach you how to ensure your books are in good order.

3. Save on tax.

It may seem simple, but this is under-appreciated. If your tax professional is doing a good job, then you should be reaping far more value in the form of tax savings, deductions and credits than what their overall preparation cost is. Unfortunately, this seldom occurs.

Employing additional imagination and creativity takes effort. "Counting" does not; it's simply paint-by-numbers. It is up to you as the client to push your tax accountant harder to provide you value. Because, the more tax you save, the less your net cost of the accounting becomes.

4. Expect more from your tax professional.

With few exceptions, pretty much everyone on the planet strives to do as little as possible for the largest reward. This isn't to suggest that accountants are intentionally not acting in your best interest. It's just that the system is designed against you.

The way accountants are compensated, for the most part, is in complete contradiction to what you are trying to accomplish as a customer. They get paid on time spent, while you get value from efficiency and tax savings. See the dilemma? 

You must work with a tax professional that is focussed on what truly is the task at hand. That is to save you as much tax as possible, while staying within the letter of the law.

5. Consider a holistic and integrated approach to your finances.

The billable hour is good for accountants, but bad for their clients. It neither promotes nor rewards efficiency on behalf of the tax professional. It explicitly stands in the way of a successful accountant-client relationship.

The billable hour model is broken. You need to pay for your taxes to be filed both properly and accurately. But, where does the real value come in that process?

Consider a fresh new way to approach your tax planning. By seeking out a holistic and integrated financial planning and tax planning professional, you can obtain the best of both worlds. The team's financial planner will do what is in your best interest to grow your wealth and ensure you are actually getting closer to your goals with every aspect of your finances, including your tax planning. Meanwhile, the accountant will ensure your taxes are filed both accurately and according to the plan outlined by your financial planner.

Again, it is up to you to demand more as a customer. Keep these five points into consideration as you meet with your accounting team this tax season.

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