Now that we’re dusting ourselves off post-pandemic, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to survive—much less thrive—through busy season with the challenges we’ve been facing. Challenges like a shortage in staffing, the need for a better client and team experience, and the need to take control of tax season.
If you approach this tax season the way you always have, you’ll continue to struggle through the same challenges. You have to shift the way your accounting firm does business, and that starts with your business model. Not only does it define your WHO, WHAT and HOW, but it’s a big key driver of your firm culture.
You already know that your client list and your team are your firm’s two most valuable assets, but your business model must reflect this. If your tax return capacity is 500 tax returns but you’re doing 750, your business model doesn’t support your staff.
The goal for 2023 isn’t just to survive tax season—it’s to maximize your incredibly valuable assets. That’s why we’ve curated four things you can do now to take control of tax season.
One of the first things you can do is digitize everything in your firm. Relying on paper and traditional methods causes unnecessary bottlenecks and wastes valuable time for both your staff and your clients. Not only will you streamline the return process, but you’ll create efficiencies—and save time—right off the bat.
Think through all the touchpoints in your current process and determine what you can improve upon to get full adoption from both staff and clients to go fully digital. Here are four things to consider when evaluating your current process:
Take the time now to consider the right tax software for your firm, as well as other applications that will help get your clients onboarded to 100% digital. The time savings alone will be a game-changer.
In a traditional firm, everyone’s job—from tax preparers and managers to partners and other tax professionals—is to communicate with clients throughout tax season. The caveat is that your firm’s processes can become inconsistent, and you lose time to the lack of streamlined communications.
To modernize your firm, think of someone in your office who is good with people. They excel at details and would love to be the one central hub of communication with all clients. Make that person your Client Communications Manager. They’ll handle all client communications, set firm procedures expectations (i.e., going 100% digital) and manage your firm’s tax notice support plan (more on that next).
For the upcoming tax year, make it your goal to maximize production for preparers and reviewers by having all communications go through your Client Communications Manager.
Another way to take control of tax season—and save time—is to establish a notice protection plan. Clients worry that they’ll receive tax notices, and many firms are unsure whether they should charge for them. We highly recommend that you add a line item to every tax return (we recommend 20%-25% of the tax return line item) called “notice protection plan,” and allow clients the option to opt out.
Doing this not only increases your bottom line, but it sets a boundary informing your clients that you’ll be charging for tax notices. We’ve found that about 80% of clients don’t opt out of this service. Thanks to the added income coming from the notice protection plan line item, you now have the option to say farewell to the tax returns of your not-so-ideal clients. It’s a win-win for you and your staff when it comes to time savings (and a morale boost)!
Not all tax returns are the same, so you need to stop treating them as such. Don’t get stuck reviewing 1,000 returns this year (or ever again). Use your team’s expertise and define three levels of tax returns: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.
Take the time to print your client list and organize them into the appropriate tax return levels. Then, create a process for each level to make the upcoming tax season as efficient as possible.
Tax season is like a marathon. Without the proper preparation, it can be long and grueling. Use these four tax season tips to take back control, increase productivity and maximize time savings for your firm.
There’s still time to get ready for tax season. Join our webinar to get a more in-depth look at the four things you can do now to take control of tax season.
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