Tax season is perhaps the most stressful time for individuals and business owners. It is easy to lose sleep when the deadlines for filing and paying taxes are around the corner. There are always chances of errors and omissions because the process is inherently complex. Not surprisingly, most people engage accounting firms to do the heavy lifting.
If you run an accounting firm, you should brace for an upsurge in workload during the tax season. In the US, this season begins on January 1 and ends on the April 15 deadline, though the dates may vary a bit from year to year. Beyond these deadlines, you need to stay on top of quarterly payments and regular records and computations.
Being loaded with work is the usual business for accounting firms, and there are no shortcuts. Fortunately, you can follow a few actionable tips to get through the busy season and help clients manage their IRS liabilities effectively. Let us share a checklist.
Stay Current on Regulations
The IRS implements changes in tax rates and regulations from time to time, and payers need to stay on track to avoid problems and penalties. For example, some electric vehicles qualify for federal credits in 2023. Anyone who owns these cars can qualify for a hefty saving on their tax bills, provided they know how to claim them.
As a professional accountant, you must stay current on the latest news and regulations to ensure the best services for your clients. Stay on top of news alerts and updates throughout the year to avoid last-minute headlines when deadlines are around. That way, you can realign your services to keep pace with the changes.
Anticipate Your Workload
Recent statistics show that there are 88,652 accounting service firms in the US as of 2023. While that’s an impressive number, there are hardly enough providers to handle 168 million individual returns in the country. If you are in the industry and have a good reputation, expect work to flood in during the tax season.
While you know you will have a busy season, take time to forecast the load before the season starts. You may decide whether you can take on new clients, considering your resources and timelines. Getting new staff on board is a wise move when you want to expand your business by making the most of the opportunity.
Although extending your team before the tax season gives you a head start, you can prepare smartly by leveraging technology. An accounting firm project management software solution can get your business on track. From supercharging your workflows to helping with deadline management, this technology solution can get you ready for the peak season.
Mango Practice Management notes that a dependable project management tool can help you customize your workflows and prioritize clients that require maximum attention. You can even use it to have a quick view of the client dashboard, leaving no room for missing out on deadlines, no matter how many clients you have.
Keep Your Systems and Processes on Track
Serving your clients should be a priority, but you may waste time on other things like administration and maintenance. Before the tax season sets in, you must ensure that your back-office administration is in place. Also, check the tech essentials such as computers, printers, and operating systems. Update your accounting software to make the most of it.
At the same time, organize your paper and digital files to avoid chasing clients’ statements and records when you are loaded with work. Being organized well before peak times gives you an advantage as an accounting service provider.
Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
When deadlines are around the corner, there are chances of going overpromising. Remember that unrealistic goals and expectations can do more harm than good because you may end up making errors or falling short of deadlines. Set daily goals and focus more on complicated tasks first. You can also break down tasks and allocate them to your team members with the right skills.
Being realistic about meeting deadlines helps you maintain sanity and keep your clients happy. Also, leave room for last-minute glitches, as you may encounter the most unexpected ones. Stay in touch with your clients and ensure they are on the same page.
Preparing for the busy tax season is about well-thought-out tactics for accounting firms. The best way to do it is by staying on your toes throughout the year instead of waiting for deadlines. Besides staying ahead of the dates and processes, focus on productivity and time management. Most importantly, do not hesitate to seek help from tech tools and solutions.