As an intern at Freedman Accounting Services, CPA, PA, based in Clark, New Jersey, my responsibilities consisted of helping to prepare 1040 tax returns, familiarizing myself with their taxation program, prepping their files or work papers, and engaging with clients. In short, my experience at Freedman Accounting Services was very enlightening.
Since the firm offers a lot of services, such as tax preparation, hosted QuickBooks, accounting, business consultation services, employee theft prevention and financial analysis, one of the first lessons I learned was the importance of planning in each area. For example, when tackling tax returns, a key step in analyzing a client’s 2017 tax return is to review each client’s tax document files and returns from 2016.
Next, I learned how to organize 1040s. Typically, there are three main categories of how employees and interns are supposed to organize the 1040s: green, which means ready to start; pink, which means missing information; and white, which means ready to be checked by an accountant. We were also instructed to fill out a blue form (essentially a tab or footnote) and put it in the file; this blue form is to be completed with the clients’ sensitive information, as well as marking how far along the file was completed.
After reviewing their tax software system, I eventually gained confidence enough to apply my knowledge and skills to completing tax returns. With only two days of training a week, and seven hours of work per day, I gained a much better hands-on experience than I could ever ask for. What I learned in class guided me through some key parts of doing taxes; but overall, being in a classroom and learning about your field is completely different from actually working in your field. So far, interning has increased the high amount of respect I previously had for tax preparers.
As the April 17 filing deadline quickly approaches, the accounting staff and interns are working hard to satisfy all clients. With the pressure of filing tax returns, we are currently working an extra hour each day and remain open on Saturdays (which we do not normally do). Our biggest challenge is to effectively complete the client's tax return, while never performing in a hasty manner due to a lack of information in the client’s tax documents since that can hinder the filing process.