Tax season is upon us. While your firm may handle taxes all year long, the period between late January to mid-April may be your busiest time. The IRS typically opens tax season at the end of January and most Americans have less than three months to file for individual income tax returns. In 2023, it’s predicted that over 168 million federal returns will be filed. That’s enough to keep you busy. But are you and your firm prepared? If not, it’s not too late.
In this guide, we’ll go over the tips to prepare your accounting firm for this tax season and the tax seasons ahead.Check out these tips to prepare your accounting firm for this tax season and the tax seasons ahead. Click To Tweet
13 Tips to Prepare Your Accounting Firm for the 2023 Tax Season
1. Update your tax preparation software to the most current version.
No matter which professional tax preparation software you use at your accounting firm, it’s important to ensure that it’s up to date. Cloud-based software typically updates automatically, but if you and your team are working on a desktop version, you may need to update the software manually to ensure that you have the most recent forms acceptable by the IRS and the state.
2. Train your accounting staff on the latest tax laws and regulations.
Tax laws change every year. Some years bring more substantial changes. It’s essential that you keep up-to-date with the laws that will affect your clients.
If you or someone on your staff is a licensed CPA, you or they may be required to complete 40 hours of continuing education each year. Additionally, it’s important that everyone on your staff stays informed about tax laws. Subscribe to and read business journals and other financial literature to discover what’s new or what may be in the pipeline for the future. Also, develop your relationship with other tax professionals, including tax lawyers, who can share their knowledge with you. Of course, regularly visit the IRS website. The IRS maintains its website with the latest news on federal tax laws.
3. Create a checklist to help your clients prepare for tax season preparation
Help your clients prepare for tax season by creating a checklist. Go over this checklist during your client meetings so that your clients have clarity and understand what steps they need to own in the process. It may be useful to create multiple checklists for each of your accounting client personas. For example, you may have a checklist for individual files, a checklist for businesses, and a checklist specific to homeowners.
4. Be proactive
Don’t wait for your clients to come to you because they may do so at the very last minute, which creates a big headache for you and them. Instead, reach out to your clients when you still have plenty of time to prepare for the upcoming tax deadline. Send out emails to your client list to remind them that it’s time to start thinking about filing. Invite them to schedule a time to meet with your team.
5. Make sure your accounting firm has the necessary resources to handle the influx of clients
Once you’ve opened the floodgates, be ready for the influx of clients—both new and old. If happy, your clients may have recommended your services to their friends. That’s good news, but not if you don’t have the bandwidth to successfully onboard them. Take the time now to start setting up systems and workflows that will ensure efficiency and productivity.
6. Invest in Project Management Software
If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest in an accounting firm project management software like Mango Practice. Mango empowers accounting firms to manage projects and clients with ease. This all-in-one accounting practice software does it all: Document management, e-signatures, file sharing, and customer relationship management to streamline communication. You can also use it to track time and generate invoices. Mango integrates with other tools, including top tax software, such as ATX, Drake Software, and Lacerte.
7. Hire more people
If necessary, consider hiring more people to help you handle the elevated workload that tax season brings with it. Even hiring an assistant part-time to help answer calls or respond to email or social media queries can be a burden reliever. Remember that this can be a temporary, seasonal position.
8. Delegate Tasks
Now is the time to delegate tasks. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Assign tasks and responsibilities to team members based on their skill sets and availability. It’s a lot easier to shoulder the burden when you’re not doing it all on your own.
9. Set a deadline
Some of us are motivated by deadlines – they can increase our sense of motivation and often result in creative thinking, improved performance, and better prioritization. Assign a deadline to each step that you will take to prepare your accounting firm for the tax season. After creating a checklist of steps, ask yourself or your team when you can realistically expect to complete each step.
10. Ask for feedback from your accounting clients on their experience
It’s crucial that you keep connected with your clients. You need to know how they’re feeling throughout the tax season so that you can be there to support them, as necessary. Are they feeling overwhelmed or unprepared? Do they have any nagging concerns about their tax situation? What is their confidence level in your firm? If it’s low, you need to know so that you can turn their opinion and experience into a positive one as quickly as possible.
11. Reach out to your accounting clients to ensure they have all the documents needed for filing
The above tax preparation tips can be given to your clients at the start of tax season so that they have a generalized set of instructions for what documents they need before filing. However, the checklist is only an aid. You should still reach out to each individual client with a customized list of documents that you need from them. Individual circumstances will vary, so you may need more documents from one client than you will from another. Sending out a customized email will likely result in a more engaging conversation with your clients.
12. Set up an online client portal to make filing easier
Make it easier for your clients to sign and submit the necessary documents at tax time by using a client portal. Examples of these documents include W-2s, income reports, receipts, and others. Mango Practice enables bank-level secure file sharing in the easy-to-use client portal. Clients can send and store files in one location.
13. Update your website to include information related to the upcoming tax season
Your clients will be looking to you as their tax experts. Prove that they’re in good hands by turning your website into an updated resource for all accounting information, including the latest tax news. Consider adding a blog or article section to your website where you discuss tax news, trends, and strategies. This can also provide fresh content for your email newsletter and your social media posts.
While it may be the busiest time of the year, tax season can also be your most profitable. Be prepared for tax season by implementing the above tips.
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