Lesson 2 of 4
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Conducting a Thorough Interview

Christopher Murphree September 9, 2020

Start by ensuring that the client has their Photo ID and Social Security Card

This deters the possibility of identity theft and ensures we input the client’s name on the tax return exactly as it appears on their Social Security Card. The IRS uses the Social Security database to verify identity, and any errors on the return may cause a delay in processing or the return to be rejected.

Begin Reviewing the I/I form with the client

Verbally verify the taxpayer’s marital status and confirm the information listed in the “Persons who lived with you section.”

Review the gray “To be completed by Certified Volunteer Preparer,” section with the taxpayer. We will discuss the section in more detail when we cover filing status, but it is important that you as the volunteer complete all applicate shaded-area questions on Form 13614-C.

Review the inside portion of the I/I form and ensure that all questions are answered. If the client has not completed the form, ask them to or verbally complete it with them by reviewing the appropriate sections they missed.

Collect all tax forms for items marked yes and always ask if the client had additional forms related to that item.

For example, if the client marks “Yes,” indicating that they have dividend income, you should collect the appropriate tax form and then ask if they had any other sources of dividend income

You should update the Intake and Interview form as necessary when conducting the interview

Ask Clarifying Questions and Review Conflicting Information

You should update or correct the intake sheet with any changes identified during the interview with the taxpayer. Also be alert for any conflicting information on the I/I form.

Examples:
“You marked that no one else lived in your home. Is that correct?”

“I see that you and your husband both worked, yet you did not indicate you paid any child care expenses for your 3 year old son. Is that correct?”

“I see that you answered “No” to the question ‘Can anyone claim you on their tax return?’ But since you’re a student living with you parents, I’m wondering if they can claim you.”

Generally, you can rely in good faith on information from a taxpayer without requiring documentation as verification. You do not need to see proof for items on the return if you feel that the information is not unusual or questionable. However, when reviewing information for accuracy, ask yourself if the information is unusual or questionable. For example, if a client indicates that they donated $1,000 to charity during the year, you can trust the information the client has provided. However, if the client says they donated $15,000 to charity, you should ask the taxpayer for supporting documentation.