December 7, 2022 min read
Amy McCartyManager of Education Services, Rootworks
While it may feel like you’ve just finished the current tax season, the next one is right around the corner. But before you even start to think about next year, you need to take a look at how this past tax season went.
What did your firm do right? What went wrong? Where can you improve or streamline processes?
Knowing the answers to these questions sets you up for a successful upcoming tax season, and we’re here to help. Based on first-hand experience of our education team, we’ve curated the ultimate year-end tax season checklist for accounting firms so you can start 2023 armed with the knowledge to blow this upcoming tax season out of the water.
If your firm has already evaluated how this past tax season went, you’re ahead of the game. If not, that’s OK, too. Make sure your checklist for next year includes reviewing how tax season is going while tax season is in full swing (I know that sounds crazy, but trust me on this). It’s a lot easier to track what’s going right and wrong while it’s happening instead of several months later when issues during tax season have been long forgotten. Being proactive is better than being reactive!
When assessing how this past tax season went, you’ll want to think about what worked and consider ideas for improvement. Provide your staff with a tax season scorecard (Rootworks members: We have one for you in the online learning library), and encourage them to be candid with their feedback.
Here are some areas to consider in your tax season assessment:
Motivate staff members who are directly responsible for these processes—and those who are affected by the processes—to take daily notes during tax season, including specific achievements or areas that need work. Take all feedback into consideration so you can make necessary changes to help create a more efficient and streamlined tax season moving forward.
Now, before tax season starts, is the perfect time to evaluate your tech stack. Based on your tax season assessment, you may have helpful feedback from your team on where you can make changes. Modern firms are as paperless as possible. So if your team is still accepting paper documents or tracking, that’s a process you’ll want to streamline right away.
To make tax season more efficient, a modern accounting firm tech stack should include the following:
The goal of a streamlined tech stack is to make working with your firm during tax season as frictionless as possible. But remember to be intentional with your tech stack—don’t add on every potential application you can think of. Use your team’s feedback and make minor adjustments before implementing too many apps. (Hint: The goal is to simplify and streamline—not overwhelm.) Start slow, adjust processes as needed, and—most important—implement changes before January to set your firm up for a successful tax season.
Whether they’re being added, removed or altered, tax laws change every single year. Changes to laws surrounding tax deductibility, charitable donations and more can be complex and overwhelming. And as tax professionals, your firm needs to stay on top of these changes so your clients’ businesses are compliant.
To keep updated on tax laws for the upcoming tax season, we have five resources for you to consider:
Be sure to hold regular meetings with your staff to discuss important tax laws and changes, so your team is knowledgeable and ready to answer questions your clients may have during busy season.
Employee retention can take a nosedive during and after a grueling tax season. That’s why it’s important that your staff members feel appreciated, supported and engaged at all times. Make sure they’re taking time to take care of themselves. Whether it’s offering flexible paid time off (PTO) or mental health days. You don’t want them burning the midnight oil…and burning out, so take time to ensure they aren’t.
Consistently check in with your team on a weekly basis to gauge workloads. Provide necessary communication updates and see how they’re feeling about the progress you’re making. Plan a day or two during tax season (yes, I’m serious) to take your team out of the work environment. Do something fun, relaxing and non-tax related. Encourage (or demand) that they maintain a proper work-life balance during busy season. Doing this will help employee retention year-round. After all, if tax season doesn’t suck, the rest of the year won’t, either.
I’ve focused a lot on how you can prepare your firm and your team for tax season, but one last thing we need to talk about is getting your clients prepared. And the best way to do this is by providing them with a tax preparation checklist. This checklist should include items including, but not limited to:
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it should give you a good idea of where to start. Providing this to your clients as tax season approaches will allow them to get their documentation in order so they can contribute to (and enjoy) a seamless and friction-free tax season.
Tax season doesn’t have to suck. Taking the steps now to prepare your firm for the upcoming busy season. It will help ensure a smooth and not-so-sucky tax season ahead. This year-end tax season checklist is a great first step.
For more information on how a Rootworks membership can help ease the pains of tax season, contact our sales team today: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Rootworks members can now use an early access version of Insights, which delivers customer segmentation and pricing data as well as reports for your firm and clients. Connection to QuickBooks Online is required for firms and/or clients.