Tax Season for Accountants: Five Key Lessons

Tax season for accountants has officially ended, with both Canadian and U.S. tax deadlines now passed. According to IRS, as of April 1st, 2022, over 63 million refunds were issued worth more than $204 billion.

Tax season can be a nerve-racking and hectic time for accounting firms. Client demands suddenly shoot sky-high, and trying to get all the documents you need can feel like herding cats. It doesn’t help that the pandemic is still causing challenges that accountants need to help clients navigate.

After more than 20 years of working with accounting firms, we’ve helped thousands of accountants survive the trenches of tax season– and better prepare for the next. To help you with your journey, we’ve taken the liberty to highlight some of the hard-won lessons we see accountants learn over tax season.

1. Get Organized

The biggest key to thriving during tax season is to get your firm, team, and processes properly organized– well before tax season begins.

There’s nothing more stressful than being in the thick of tax season and realizing you don’t have an efficient way to organize client data, track project progress, and communicate with your team. Just like halfway through a marathon is not the time to begin training, the middle of tax season is not the time to begin appraising your system and processes for potential improvements.

Rather, begin getting organized well before tax season begins. This could include reviewing and updating client information, setting up a proper workflow for your team, training your team on how to use those workflows, and the countless other “housekeeping” tasks that will help ensure a smooth tax season.

While it may sound counterintuitive, a great time to begin preparing for the next tax season is right after the current season ends. With pain points and priorities fresh in mind, you’ll know exactly what needs to be improved by next year– and you’ll have plenty of time to execute.

2. Use an Accounting Practice Management System

If you use an accounting practice management like TPS Software, chances are you know the importance of having a well-oiled machine supporting your practice. But are you really getting the most out of this cutting-edge platform?

We are constantly adding new features and improvements to our practice management platform, based on real-time feedback we receive from accountants like you. With so many powerful tools to leverage, it’s all too easy to stick to the basics and overlook some of our more advanced functionality– like client workflows or our new MS Power BI dashboard.

A great way to ensure you’re getting the most out of TPS Software is to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with our support team, who will be happy to walk you through the tools that will be of greatest use to your specific accounting practice.

If you don’t yet use an accounting practice management system, make it a priority to start. A platform like TPS Cloud Axis can be revolutionary for your practice, helping you improve efficiency and productivity, better serve your clients, and make better business decisions through advanced analytics and reporting. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see the platform in action.

3. Security Should be Prioritized

One of the main issues during tax time is identity theft. A stolen credit card can damage your client’s reputation and identity, or someone can use it to file an illicit return to snatch tax returns.

To prevent this from happening, you should file returns in advance: don’t wait for the deadline to close to remind your clients. Still, we recommend utilizing Identity Pin Protection: this program issues the user with a unique pin code that your clients can use anytime they want to file tax returns. Basically, it ensures no one can use a stolen identity to access personal info. The sign-up process is also easy and free, so it shouldn’t take much of your time.

4. Look for Ways to Improve the Filing Process

Consider each step or mistake you’ve made during the previous years and eliminate any redundant steps. Once you’ve identified the issue, you can go through it by yourself or with your team to find an easier way of making the process manageable. Perhaps one person in your team can develop an innovation that will improve the filing process for your client and any similar task in the future.

Ensure what you discuss revolves around recent filing processes and not something that occurred four years ago or what your manager assumes the process is. The discussion needs to be accurate if you want to see changes. Once you figure out the perfect approach, look into technological aspects that can help offer additional room for improvements. 

Use this quiet period to explore every avenue before the tax season begins. Even if it takes five weeks or four months for you or your team to familiarize yourself with a new system, your objective should be to improve before the tax season. Remember that technology is quickly advancing, and the best plan or app you had five months ago may not be ideal at this time. Always look for ways you can improve and solve any issue.

5. Set Up Workflows for Recurring Tasks

When set up properly, client workflows can revolutionary for your practice. If your team has bulk and/or repetitive tasks around specific clients or projects, you can set up a workflow that defines a development list of steps guiding team members through each stage of project completion.

This is particularly valuable during tax season, when your team is likely to be juggling a myriad of clients and human error becomes more likely. It’s also helpful for teams who may be working remotely or across multiple office locations.

By setting up workflows, you can allow your team to serve many clients and still produce outstanding work without exhausting their energy or making easily avoidable mistakes.

Before this tax season begins, identify any problem you noticed last time that weakens your firm. Still, you need always to be observant because every tax season will present a new issue that no one in your firm could have predicted: that’s simply how the world revolves. But if you spare some time to identify and plan, you’ll have a guarantee that the next problem that arises won’t be as painful as the previous one.

Tax Season for Accountants: Final Thoughts

Tax season for accountants is one of the busiest months, but surviving this season will depend on your plan. Don’t ignore the use of automation or tools like TPS to reduce the workload and time. Using a practice management tool like TPS Cloud Axis can make the process smoother and better equipped for the next tax season.

If you need any assistance, you can turn to TPS Software. We’ve been serving accountants for over 20 years, giving us the experience and skills to help you. Call us today to schedule a quick demo or learn more about TPS Cloud Axis.

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