5 CPA Tips for a Great Tax Season in 2017

You’ve probably set tax preparation appointments and worked with a few clients already. But there’s still time to hone skills, streamline processes and avoid problems that slow down productivity.

Whether your office is buzzing or you’re waiting for clients to arrive, here are 5 tips to help this tax season go off without a hitch.

#1: Contact Clients About Which Documents They’ll Need

In nearly every CPA’s life, at least one client will scurry in at the last minute with a shoebox full of receipts. You can’t organize your clients, but you can help raise awareness of what they’ll need for a smooth appointment.

Create a standard list of documents that clients should bring to help the tax preparation process along, such as W2 and 1098 mortgage interest forms. Address more complicated clients individually to advise them about forms such as 1099-B, 1099-K and 5498-ESA.

Mail or e-mail clients as soon as possible with a copy of the list. Also, remind them to schedule a tax preparation appointment early to avoid the April crunch.

#2: Streamline Your Office Procedures

Think about tax season last year. Did your office run like a well-oiled machine, or were there a few maddening hiccups? Now is the time to ward off avoid process snags, traffic jams at the copier and other time-consuming issues.

  • Schedule office equipment tune-ups
  • Set up document stations to streamline scanning and filing
  • Implement a digital and hard-copy document management system
  • Test new software to identify bugs
  • Organize existing digital files and client folders
  • Set interoffice file access permissions
  • Update client contact information
  • Update or create letterheads, business cards and other frequently-used documents

Order supplies online and let someone else do the heavy lifting.

#3: Replenish Office Supply Stock

You’ve probably stocked up on pens, copy paper, and toner. But you’ll still likely run out of a few things before tax season ends. Replenish office supply stock now, and you won’t spend an extra-long lunch break standing in a checkout queue at Staples.

You might need:

  • Coffee, bottled water and soft drinks
  • Paper towels, cups and other paper products
  • Single-serve snacks
  • File and pocket folders
  • Binders
  • Document sleeves
  • Labels and tabs
  • Legal pads and sticky notes
  • Waste bin liners
  • Batteries
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps or postage for the meter
  • Markers and highlighters
  • Correction fluid or tape
  • Staplers and staples
  • Paperclips
  • Restroom supplies

Check office furniture, as well. Replace or repair unruly desks and chairs, and rent or buy extra seating if yours is a busy office.

#4: Offer Training for Staff Members

Nothing breeds confidence with clients like a CPA office that knows its stuff. Set up training sessions to determine the knowledge and skill level of staff members and address any shortcomings.

Issues to Consider:

  • New tax code changes
  • IRS filing procedure updates
  • New tax preparation software
  • New general software, including e-mail providers, alerts, interoffice communication and document software
  • Client file exchange portals

Wolters Kluwer recommends providing the office with quick reference books including at least one copy of the U.S. Master Tax Guide and Code and Regulations reference materials.

#5: Bookmark Important Links

Remember the last time you searched a topic or looked for a form at the IRS website? How many links did you click before landing on the right page? Bookmark important pages at IRS.gov and other valuable resources now to save time later.

Here are a few of the basics:

  • IRS Tax Preparer Oversight and Professional Responsibility
  • IRS Featured Forms and Publications
  • IRS Post-Release Changes to Tax forms, Instructions and Publications
  • IRS Links to Prior Year Forms
  • IRS Tax Publication and Instruction eBooks https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/ebooks
  • IRS Guidance
  • Social Security and Medicare Statements and Information

By the time you leave the office at some point on April 15, you’ll have typed, scanned, signed and filed until your fingertips are nearly numb. It’s part of the life of an in-demand CPA during the busiest time of the year. But the sooner you prepare for it, the fewer problems you’ll likely encounter.

One thing that doesn’t have to drain your time and resources is continuing education. You can get it online in a no-hassle format from PDH Academy. Check out our convenient CPA-approved courses today.

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