Coronavirus and Your Taxes

I am not a healthcare professional or a doctor, and have no education or training in pandemics or infectious disease outbreaks. I use common sense and have my own personal opinions, and that’s it.

This tax season, I’ve recently been asked if it’s safe to go out to your tax preparer’s busy tax office, often waiting with others in a waiting room, to get your taxes done. I can’t advise anyone on what to do, but here’s my take.

The virus is extremely contagious, and is spreading rapidly. Symptoms may not appear for weeks, or not at all, or can be confused with a cold, allergies, or flu. Some are assuming it may already be out in the community, but undetected. For now, it hasn’t been possible to control the spread of the virus or make predictions about where it might appear next.

That suggests the virus may already be here, where we live and work and where we send our children to school. I’m assuming that many have already been exposed, and are contagious, and may start showing symptoms several weeks from now. If they’re lucky they’ll have mild symptoms, or none at all.

Some groups such as the elderly and people with weak immune systems are at higher risk than others. They might come down with severe symptoms, bad enough to send them to the hospital, or, heaven forbid, worse.

Assuming the virus is already among us, what can you do if you want to have your taxes prepared, but fear exposure? First off, you can seek out a tax professional who prepares taxes on a strict appointment only basis, to avoid crowded waiting areas. If you have a simple return, then consider using TurboTax and do it yourself.

If you want to file your taxes from the comfort of your home and still use a licensed tax professional, seek out a firm or tax preparer that offers virtual tax preparation. What is that exactly? Virtual tax preparation means that your tax professional can serve you no matter where you are located utilizing modern technology.

The process is simple. Your virtual tax preparer will invite you to use their firm’s secure client portal. You can then upload your documents to the secure portal, and then they can begin preparing your tax return. Any questions or items that need clarification can be resolved by phone, email or video conferencing.

When it’s done, your virtual tax preparer will upload your copy of the return to the secure client portal. You can review the return and go over any questions you might have remotely with your tax preparer.

You can then securely electronically sign your tax return and get it professionally e-filed for you. No exposure to germs or viruses, and you get your taxes done without leaving the comfort of your home. Sounds pretty easy, right? That’s because it is.

If you have questions about Coronavirus and Your Taxes, contact me for a consultation. I’m an Illinois licensed, Registered Certified Public Accountant with over 25 years of experience. I’m dedicated to providing outstanding tax and accounting services to individuals and small businesses in the Chicago area.

Disclaimer: Any accounting, business or tax advice contained in this article, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. If desired, I would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired consultation services.

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