How to Make the Annual Tax Visit Part of your Overall Business Strategy
It’s the busiest time of year for tax professionals. While tax preparation season can be financially rewarding, your clients may dread this period. That’s why forging a long-term tax professional-client relationship can be mutually beneficial, making the annual tax visit not just a once a year visit, but rather, a part of your overall business strategy.
Small business owner Candace Laguna of Mami’s & Papi’s has been working with the same tax preparer for two years, but tax season isn’t the only time they talk. She considers her tax preparer a partner, not only in IRS compliance, but also, in reaching sound financial decisions. She works with her accountant year round, wrestling with questions and honing strategies so that opportunities for deductions aren’t missed and potential liabilities aren’t overlooked.
“I’m sure there are some folks who believe tax preparers should help you get out of paying more to the IRS, but that is more of a glass-half-empty outlook,” says Laguna. “Our tax preparer does her job efficiently and effectively so that we pay the exact amount we are supposed to. If there are deductions, she takes them. If there is a way to legitimately itemize something to allow for less tax liability, she does it.”
Year-Round Tax Planning
To optimize the client relationship, tax professionals need to have proactive conversations with their clients throughout the tax year, says John Wucinski, a Dallas-based CPA.“During the annual tax visit, you should start the larger conversation about financial planning – and that should continue and evolve throughout the year,” he says.
“An annual financial plan identifies areas that need to be addressed with a tax professional,” says Jason Bottenfield, a Certified Financial Planner™ with Morgan Stanley. “For example, should the client fund a retirement plan or a defined contribution plan? Is the client cognizant of the tax consequences of selling assets in taxable accounts or harvesting any investment losses? Far too often, trusted advisors are not plugged-in together.”
Bottenfield suggests ongoing financial planning conversations over the course of each taxable year. If the client has a financial planner, it’s advisable to set up at least one meeting between the client and their tax preparer and financial planner to explore the tax consequence of each significant financial move the client might undertake.
3 Ways to Engage With Your Clients Throughout the Year
Tax professionals and clients can establish a solid, collaborative relationship and minimize surprises by adopting a three-point strategy. These include:
- Year-round tax consulting. Tax professionals can strengthen their business by consulting with clients throughout the year to keep them apprised of tax law changes, upcoming deadlines and opportunities to minimize tax exposure.
- Mobile access: Tax professionals can help streamline data collection by enabling the exchange of tax and financial documents on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Cloud technology, such as Intuit® Link, also eases the exchange and access to tax documents and information.
- ACA Updates: Compliance and tax liability issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act present another opportunity for tax preparers to add value to their client relationships. As the full scope of the law unfolds, questions and confusion abounds, providing tax professionals with opportunities to advise and clarify.
For more information on the ACA, including articles, checklists and more, visit Intuit’s ACA website, and click here for information on Intuit Link to learn more about secure, safe document uploads for your clients.