3 Tax Season Survival Tips
If you’re bombarded by clients left, right and centre, you’re not alone. It’s that time of year again: tax time! It may be hard to believe, but there are ways to bring some method to the madness ... and make things a bit more manageable for you and your team. Read on for some great survival tips to survive (and thrive!) during tax season.
Andrew Wall, owner of Wall CPA and a top QuickBooks® guru, was kind enough to take a break from his busy schedule and share some of the ways his firm survives the onslaught of activities around tax season. His top 3 tips are laid out below.
1: Save yourself time via data from the CRA
Instead of waiting for clients to bring their tax information to you, switch the cycle around by proactively rolling forward their personal tax returns and T1s, says Wall, who recently embraced this approach. Utilize the tax data download available from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and ensure you have a signed t1013 (authorized representative form). A little effort goes a long way when you have their Accounting and Financial Reporting from the CRA ahead of time.
“This lets us get as much of the work done as early as possible so we’re not running into as much of that mad dash as we do every year,” says Wall. “There’s going to be clients who don’t bring information in until April 29, and this gives you an advantage to at least get ahead of the curve.”
2. Familiarize yourself with new software features and tax changes
Software changes always aim to improve your workflow, but it takes some adjusting to before these modifications become second nature. Make sure you have time to familiarize yourself and your team with any and all new features, and you stay on top of updates. A great example is Hub and Link, which will automatically send reminders requesting information from your clients, says Wall.
“Make sure you and your team have tested and are familiar with these tools,” says Wall. “You don’t want to be doing that in the midst of all the pressures that goes with personal tax season.”
In addition to software updates and new features, tax rules are changing year-to-year as well. As your client’s financial advisor, it’s your job to stay abreast of these latest tweaks.
This year, changes to primary residency are one of the major changes in tax law, adds Wall.
“As a professional, be aware of what’s taken place and what you need to be prepared for, so you can help your clients as best as possible,” says Wall.
3. Get your team in place, do the work and then celebrate!
Making sure you have the right people in place to be able to serve your clients is critical. Do your best to project how many tax returns your team will need to do, how many hours your team will need to spend on those returns and then hire more people as needed.
“Make sure you can handle the volume,” says Wall. "Doing the math to estimate this out now will save you a lot of headaches (and angry clients!) when it’s crunch time and you don’t have the capacity or runway to get someone up to speed and integrated into your team."
After the hard work is put in, Wall puts on an annual celebration for his team. “We make sure we get everything booked and planned so we’re ready to celebrate as a team,” he says. Giving everyone something to look forward to can add that extra boost of determination during the long evenings and weekends of work. “It’s a small gesture, but it is so satisfying for my team to attend that party and close the books together on another tax season,” says Wall. “I’m already looking forward to this year’s party in May!”