Accountants are well-versed in providing clients with advice on how to best prepare for tax season—gather receipts, list income sources, consider added IRA contributions…be organized and prepared in general. We can rattle off tax-preparedness guidelines in our sleep, yet we are not always the best at following our own advice. Let’s practice what we preach this year and prepare our firms for the coming tax season.
At the heart of a smooth tax season is process. If operational processes are clunky, unorganized and inefficient, a smooth tax season is definitely out of reach. Preparation is the name of game, so it’s time to follow our own advice and get ready. Let’s start with a list of proven tips and tactics to prepare for a better, if not the best, tax season yet.
Get a jump on technology
Technology is the glue that holds a smooth tax process together. Your technology stack should support a digital, streamlined workflow as well as facilitate ease of collaboration with clients. So, make sure you have the right technologies in place, preferably best-of-breed cloud solutions.
Identify a tax point of contact (POC) in your firm
Tasking one person to handle all client communications during tax season offers clients a single point of reference and streamlines internal communications for firm staff. Make sure you also train a backup person to take over when your POC is out of the office.
Identify tax return tiers
Not all tax returns are created equal. Some returns can be completed by a seasoned professional without the need for partner review. Others are more complex and necessitate review. Identify tax return tiers—Tier 1 for non-review returns and Tier 2 for those requiring review. Educate staff on the different levels and structure your tax processes to support identified tiers and better expedite work.
Implement and adhere to a standardized tax process
Plan your tax process from start to finish. With the right technology in place, you will be better positioned to map out a standardized process and stick with it. For example, if your process includes a secure client communications platform for sharing of client source document, do not allow submission by email or other unsecure means. Your tax process should be non-negotiable—meaning, do not allow clients to dictate the process and venture outside your defined structure. Be sure to champion the process before and throughout tax season to ensure consistency.
Preparing for tax season is good advice for firm clients, but also for the firm itself. These guidelines offer a solid starting point for preparing our firms for a smoother and less-painful tax season. And the sooner you start, the better.
If you are looking for more information or a road map to moving your firm to the cloud, visit us at rootworks.com.