Like 2020, the year 2021 ends in the midst of a pandemic. While recovery is in sight and many businesses have long adapted to the chaos of 2020, there are still challenges facing taxpayers, accountants and CPAs.
The question is, how do you best prepare for this upcoming tax season, while continuing to adapt to the new normal? Here are some suggestions.
1. Review your current software – Chances are, this will be the last chance you get to clean up your files and office before tax season begins. One of the best places to start is to review your current tax software? Is the app obsolete? Does it still suit your needs or have you exceeded it? Are you looking for additional features and functions that are not available on your current system? And the most important ; does your current system support remote working?
If you find that your software is not meeting your business needs, now is the time to replace it with an application that will. Why not try out a few apps to get a new one up when you really need it?
2. Organize your files – If you still use paper files, be sure to free up space for 2021 tax documents. A quick review will help you identify what you need to keep and shred the rest. But if you find yourself inundated with paper, consider switching to an electronic filing system, which keeps your files close at hand while reducing the incidence of lost or destroyed files.
3. Increase staff – If you are generally understaffed, consider interviewing and adding additional staff before the first of the year. First, determine where the greatest need lies: do you need support workers to deal with administrative tasks, or are you looking for accounting professionals to help you with returns? Having qualified staff available before the rush of tax season will eliminate the need to identify and onboard new employees during your busy season.
If you are unable to hire, consider limiting the type of clients you accept. Another option would be to outsource the work to another company, but make sure that the company you are outsourcing to has been properly vetted, otherwise it can harm or even destroy valuable relationships with clients.
4. Communicate – Communicating regularly with your clients is important throughout the year, but especially at the start of tax season. While it’s important to organize your business for the upcoming tax season, if you don’t involve your customers in the process, chances are you will still be waiting for critical information months away. Start by creating the right workflow, starting with a customer organizer. Make sure your customer has access to your Customer Portal, and if you don’t have one, you may consider getting one. Most importantly, make it clear what you need from your customers to get started, and exactly when you need them.
5. Avoid burnout – Easier said than done, but tax season usually means late hours – whether in the office or at home. Either way, to reduce stress, consider modifying your schedule a bit. Instead of staying late at night, consider getting to work early to get a head start on returns. Stop skipping meals because you’re busy – it only makes it easier to binge on your next meal. You can also consider offering your employees discounted gym memberships or having healthier meals brought to the office, making sure you take advantage of those options as well. Taking planned breaks, getting up from your desk or desk for a short walk, or even just stretching can help relieve stiff muscles and keep your blood flowing.
While nothing can take the stress out of tax season, being organized can certainly help reduce your stress levels.