Understanding Investment Club Tax Season
It's important to understand the process and timeline of the development and release of the Investment Club Tax Printer software that ICLUBcentral develops each year. This guide is meant to help you and your club members understand when you can expect to file your club tax returns and provide Schedule K-1 forms to your members. You may wish to print this page and distribute or otherwise share it with your club members.
We typically release the Club Tax Printer software each year initially using DRAFT forms, then later release an update with FINAL forms. Why do we ship the Tax Printers before the FINAL forms are released? Why is there such a delay in releasing them?
FINAL: forms that have been approved by the legislature and officially released by the IRS, and can be used to file your club's taxes.
DRAFT: placeholder forms that have not yet been officially approved and CANNOT be used to file your club's taxes.
Every year, Treasurers go through the same song and dance -- the Tax Season Tango. Though the music may change, the steps of the dance never do. But knowing what to expect can help.
Some time near July, the IRS releases the Federal taxes in draft form. This is enough for software companies and accountants to get a general feel for the new forms. We use them as a placeholder until the final forms arrive. ICLUBcentral starts work on the Tax Printer software for the new year.
November: Pre-order Your Club Tax Printers
ICLUBcentral begins pre-sales on the Club Tax Printer software. The software is generally in the testing phase at this point, so nothing is shipping yet. Pre-sales helps ICLUBcentral spread out the orders so they don't come in all at once and helps clubs by getting their order approved while any year-end discounts still apply.
What to do: Clear the purchase with your club and purchase the Club Tax Printers. Tell the club members to expect their tax forms in February.
December: Be Patient.
ICLUBcentral starts shipping the Tax Printer software. At this time, the software is complete, but the tax forms are still in draft. The IRS would probably love to publish the final forms, but there are always delays, usually due to last-minute legislation. For example, in 2005, tax forms were delayed because Congress added a checkbox for taxpayers to donate $3 for Hurricane Katrina relief -- after the forms had gone to the printers! All of the paper forms were tossed out and reprinted. In 2006, a similar delay occurred because Congress renewed a clause that had just run out. If there were no last-minute changes, there would be no delays, but this is seldom the case.
What to do: Put together an audit committee and review the books for the year. Tell the club members to expect their tax forms in February.
January: Audit your Books.
You're waiting for the draft forms to be finalized. You're waiting for your brokerage firm's 1099 forms, which they don't have send to you until February 15. (Prior to 2009, the deadline for sending consolidated 1099 forms was January 31.) Filing a tax return before you have your 1099 forms in hand is not recommended -- the 1099 is also being sent to the IRS, and if the numbers on your return don't match what's on the 1099, you will run into problems. The tension builds as your club's members decide that now is the time they should start asking you for their K-1s -- in some cases, every single day. Hand them a copy of this message so they know why they don't have their tax forms yet.
What to do: Check ICLUB.com for the status of the tax forms. We publish all available information right there on the home page. Tell the club members to expect their tax forms in February.
February: Generate Your Club Taxes Returns (Congress and the IRS Willing).
You've got your 1099s. You've recorded every transaction and closed the books for the year. You check ICLUB.com for the status of the tax forms. When Congress and the IRS finalize the forms, ICLUBcentral makes any necessary changes, tests them, and releases the final forms to you. ICLUBcentral shouts from the rooftops that the final forms have arrived, updating the main web page, sending out emails, and automatically updating Club Accounting. Folks with myICLUB.com see the finalized forms under the Taxes tab. Treasurers with Club Accounting 3 for the desktop get a message that there's an update.
What to do: Complete the tax forms for your club members. Remind the club members that they owe you dinner, and the person who called you the most for the forms from November through January should be picking up the tab.