The tax season is not far away. Like every year, the tax preparers are gearing up to beat this hectic time by eliminating any chink in their armor.
So, as professional offering tax filing services, what do you think should be your preparation for the tax season?
The secret behind a stress-free and successful tax season is preparing early and not letting it get to your head. Remember if you clear your mind, you can serve all your clients without a fuss.
Here are some tips that might help you in sailing through the tax season.
When is Season for Tax Accountants?
Accounting busy season typically peaks from January to April, coinciding with tax filing deadlines. During this period, accountants experience heightened workloads due to increased client demands for tax preparation and compliance services. The exact timing may vary based on geographical location and specific industry considerations.
What Do Accountants Do During Busy Season?
During busy tax season, accountants focus on intensive tax preparation and compliance work. They gather financial data, analyze records, and ensure accurate reporting for clients. Accountants also address client inquiries, stay current on tax laws, and collaborate with their teams to manage the heightened workload efficiently.
How to Survive Busy Tax Season Audit
Here are 15 smart tax season tips for busy accountants and CPAs to have a peaceful tax season:
1. Plan Ahead Before Tax Season Begins
Planning ahead before tax season begins is a cornerstone for success in the accounting profession. As the tax season looms, meticulous preparation is essential to navigate the complexities efficiently.
Start by creating a detailed timeline that outlines key milestones and deadlines. Allocate resources strategically, considering the volume of clients and potential challenges.
Develop a comprehensive checklist covering all necessary documentation and client information. This proactive approach allows for early identification of potential issues, enabling timely resolutions and preventing last-minute surprises. Additionally, plan for team coordination and establish clear communication channels.
Anticipating client needs and regulatory changes in advance provides a competitive edge. By fostering a culture of readiness, accountants can navigate the tax season with confidence, ensuring a smoother workflow, greater accuracy, and ultimately, enhanced client satisfaction. Proactive planning is the foundation for a successful and stress-free tax season.
2. Don’t Stress Yourself Out
One of the main reasons why tax season feels daunting is because you let it. No doubt, tax season is the most stressful period for an accountant. However, it does not mean that you burn your candles at both ends.
Try to maintain a normal lifestyle even during the tax season. Even if you have a ton of work on your hands, do not lose your health over it. Eating a nutritious diet can help keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
Working for extended periods of time can hamper your productivity and make you prone to errors. You should try to take short breaks and meditate if possible. Desk exercises are also a great way to gain back your lost stamina.
3. Delegate Tasks
No matter how competent a tax professional may be, no one can do all the work alone. Even if you can handle all your tasks by yourself, it takes a lot out of you. Working nonstop in the tax season can have adverse effects on your health.
A helping hand in the tax season can prove a lifesaver. Try to reach out for help if you are not able to handle all the tasks by yourself. You can pass on some of the “less critical” tasks to your subordinates, which will make some time for you to focus on more pressing matters.
4. Make Use of Technology
In the current scenario, technology has anyhow become essential for any accounting process. However, during tax season, the use of the latest technologies become indispensable.
There are loads of tax software solutions available for you that not only helps you save your time but also helps in reducing some of the tax season stress. Apart from the tax solutions such as ATX, ProSeries, and Drake, there are other third-party add-ons that help you achieve additional tasks such as accounting, time tracking, expense management, among others. Some of them are QuickBooks, QuickBooks Time, Expensify etc.
Moreover, to get more comfort in your accounting process, you can choose a cloud service provider to host your tax software and data on the cloud. It will give you the ability to access your tax process from anywhere at any time.
5. Be Proactive
One of how you can ensure a smooth tax season is to prepare for it a little early. If you do most of the preparation tasks prior to the tax season, all there is left in the tax season is filing taxes.
Do not wait for the clients to submit their documents at the cusp of the tax season. Instead, ask for all the required documents and information a couple of weeks before the tax season. It will help you deliver exceptional customer services to your client as you don’t have to bother them for documents during the tax season.
A common mistake that the professionals responsible for filing tax returns make is working haphazardly. Since there are a lot of tasks you need to work on simultaneously, don’t get flustered.
You can start your day by creating a task list for the day. List out all your clients and set your priorities accordingly. You can keep the most critical work on the top of your task list. As you are the most energetic in the morning, you will be able to complete the tasks efficiently. You can use apps like Google Keep or Evernote to keep track of daily tasks.
Even if some of your tasks are incomplete at the end of the day, don’t worry. You have completed the important tasks already.
7. Encourage Clients to Submit Requests Early
Encouraging clients to submit requests early is a proactive strategy that contributes to a smooth and efficient tax season. Initiate timely communication with clients, emphasizing the benefits of early submission. By doing so, you not only manage expectations but also create a structured workflow that minimizes last-minute rushes.
Clearly communicate the advantages of early submissions, such as ensuring accurate filing, ample time for thorough reviews, and avoiding potential penalties due to missed deadlines. Implement a system that incentivizes early submissions, perhaps through discounted rates or priority scheduling.
Educate clients about the potential complexities in their specific tax situations and the time required for meticulous handling. Emphasize the collaborative effort required for a successful outcome.
By fostering a culture of early engagement, accountants can better allocate resources, manage workloads efficiently, and deliver higher-quality service to clients. This approach not only enhances client satisfaction but also contributes to a more manageable and less stressful tax season for both parties.
8. Prioritize Tasks Effectively
Prioritizing tasks effectively is a fundamental aspect of managing the demands of tax season for accountants. Begin by identifying critical tasks and deadlines, categorizing them based on urgency and importance. Allocate time and resources based on this assessment to ensure that essential tasks are addressed promptly.
Create a daily or weekly task list, organizing items by priority. Tackle high-priority and time-sensitive tasks first to prevent bottlenecks and meet deadlines consistently. Regularly reassess priorities to adapt to changing circumstances and emerging client needs.
Utilize project management tools or software to streamline task organization and enhance collaboration within your team. This ensures that everyone is aligned on priorities and can contribute to the overall efficiency of the workflow.
Maintain open communication channels with your team to promptly address challenges and reallocate resources if needed. By systematically prioritizing tasks, accountants can navigate the tax season with agility, delivering accurate and timely results for clients while minimizing stress and optimizing productivity.
9. Stay Current on Tax News
Staying current on tax news is a non-negotiable practice for accountants, especially during the tax season. Regularly monitoring updates in tax legislation and regulations is essential for providing accurate and compliant services to clients.
Subscribe to reputable tax trends, news sources, publications, and newsletters to receive real-time updates on changes in tax laws. Attend relevant seminars, webinars, or training sessions to deepen your understanding of evolving tax regulations.
Establish a routine for reviewing tax updates, ensuring that you are well-informed on any amendments that may impact your clients. This proactive approach enables you to anticipate potential challenges and provide timely guidance to clients on adapting to new regulations.
Maintaining current knowledge also positions you as a trusted advisor, enhancing your credibility and the value you bring to your clients. By staying abreast of tax news, accountants can navigate the complexities of tax season with confidence, mitigating risks and delivering high-quality, compliant services.
10. Be Lazy And Automate Accounting
Embrace the power of efficiency by incorporating automation into your accounting processes. While the phrase ‘be lazy’ may sound counterintuitive, it suggests the strategic use of automation to streamline repetitive tasks, allowing accountants to focus on more complex and value-added activities.
Identify routine, time-consuming tasks such as data entry, transaction categorization, and report generation. Implement accounting software and tools that offer automation features to handle these processes seamlessly. Automation not only reduces the risk of human error but also significantly accelerates the pace of work.
Regularly evaluate your workflow to identify opportunities for further automation. From invoice processing to reconciliation, automate where possible to optimize your time and resources. This approach not only enhances accuracy but also frees up valuable hours for strategic thinking, analysis, and client interaction.
By ‘being lazy’ and automating routine tasks, accountants can elevate their productivity, improve overall job satisfaction, and ultimately provide higher-quality services to their clients. It’s a smart and strategic way to work smarter, not harder, during the demanding tax season.
11. Go Through The Tax Regulations
As a tax professional, you can be overconfident and ignore the basic requirement of going through the tax regulations. As the tax regulations keep on changing regularly, it is imperative to go through all the tax changes as per the Internal Revenue Code (IRC, § 6695).
The IRS had already announced the new Federal Income Tax Brackets for 2019 tax filing last year. Although the tax preparers make it a necessity to know the tax laws, it is wise to go through them just before the tax season to see if you have missed something.
12. Learn To Say No
Remember that you are only human. A lot of preparers take pride over handling an ocean of clients during the tax season. However, you should also know that it is not possible to cater to them all.
Stretching yourself too much will lead to cumbersome tax filing as it will become practically impossible to handle the data.
Hence, you should analyze your workforce and take on clients accordingly. Learn to say no; otherwise, there will be a situation where you will not be able to serve even the present clients.
13. Manage Your Team
You might be willing to work, day and night, during the tax season. But you can’t expect the same from your team.
Always remember that your team might need extra motivation to work tirelessly in the tax season. Do not put extra pressure on them by setting unrealistic goals. Instead, you should try to make the working conditions as relaxed as possible.
Order pizza for them if they are working late. Sit with them during coffee breaks and exchange anecdotes. You can also allow individuals that live far away to work from home. Remember that a relaxed work environment is the most productive one.
14. Relieve Yourself From All Other Tasks
During the demanding tax season, it’s crucial for accountants to prioritize their core responsibilities by relieving themselves from non-essential tasks. Streamline your focus on tax preparation and compliance by delegating routine administrative duties. This not only enhances efficiency but also ensures that critical financial matters receive the attention they deserve.
Identify tasks that can be outsourced or automated, such as data entry, appointment scheduling, or document organization. Leverage technology to your advantage, allowing you to concentrate on the intricacies of tax regulations and client-specific needs.
By relieving yourself from ancillary tasks, you not only reduce the risk of burnout but also improve the overall quality of your work. Embrace the mantra of ‘work smarter, not harder’ to navigate the tax season with a clear and focused mind, delivering optimal results for both you and your clients.
15. Categorize Your Clients
When you have a large clientele to handle, it is always better to put your clients in different categories. You can put the clients belonging to a different industry together. As they might have a common requirement for tax filing, it will be easier for you to file their taxes.
Categorizing your clients is a strategic step that significantly streamlines the tax season workflow. Segment clients based on their complexity, industry, or specific tax requirements. This allows for a targeted and tailored approach to each group, optimizing your efficiency.
Establish categories such as ‘High Complexity,’ ‘Regular,’ and ‘Specialized Industries.’ For high-complexity clients, allocate additional time and resources to address intricate tax scenarios. Regular clients may follow a standardized process, while specialized industries might require specific expertise or compliance considerations.
Prioritize clients with imminent deadlines or unique needs, ensuring timely and accurate service. Utilize client management software to track individual progress within each category, maintaining a clear overview of tasks and deadlines.
By categorizing clients, accountants can create a customized and scalable approach to meet diverse needs efficiently. This method enhances organization, reduces the risk of oversight, and ultimately leads to a more productive and successful tax season.
Final Word: How to Prepare for Accounting Busy Season
In conclusion, preparing for the accounting busy season demands strategic planning. Set a detailed timeline and organize client categories.
Encourage early submissions for a smoother workflow. Prioritize tasks efficiently, embracing automation for streamlined processes. Stay updated on tax news for accuracy. Adopt a smart approach – automate routine tasks to enhance efficiency.
By implementing these steps, accountants can navigate the busy season confidently, delivering high-quality services while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Strategic preparation is the key to success during this intense period. Plan, execute, and achieve excellence in the accounting busy season.
If you know some more tips, please let us know in the comments section.