"In taxes, there are things we can help with that do affect you, sometimes quite vastly. Timing is crucial," says Gonzalez, who also owns her own tax company, Accu-Tax.
Gonzalez says you should definitely check in with your tax professional before you get married, divorced and certainly before you buy, sell or rent property.
Levin seconds that. "Years ago, mortgage financing of a home was one of the simplest transactions to structure tax-wise – interest expense on mortgage indebtedness was almost always fully deductible," he says.
But over the past three decades, tax legislation has complicated matters, Levin says. The amount of mortgage debt, the timing of when the debt was placed on the home and numerous other factors "can limit, or eliminate, the deductibility of the interest expense," he says. "These rules are known as tax traps for the unwary, and few mortgage loan brokers are aware of these traps."
Talk to your tax preparer before signing contracts. This advice comes from Mel Cohen, a certified financial planner who has been preparing taxes for more than 35 years and is based in Pleasantville, Tenn. Cohen remembers one client saying, "I just signed an agreement for sale for a new property. Can you look it over?"
Cohen's response: "No point in me looking it over since you already signed it."
If there's a potential problem with the IRS, tell your tax preparer immediately. Maybe it isn't surprising that a disorganized person who has fallen into a problem with the IRS won't necessarily try to fix the problem quickly. Still, you can see the problem when Cohen recounts how a client once told him, "I received a notice from the IRS, and I have 30 days to answer it."
Cohen asked his client when the letter came. The client's reply? "About three months ago."
Get your paperwork to your tax preparer early. February is fantastic, tax preparers say. March, especially the first half, is fine. But as Haislet says, if you give your material to your tax preparer on April 1, don't be upset if you end up having to file an extension.
In other words, your tax preparer is a mere mortal who happens to be pretty good with numbers. If it's April 14, and you're heading into your preparer's office with a bag of receipts in tow, you don't need a tax preparer. You need a magician or a time machine.