For business owners, the tax season is usually over once you submit your filing on April 15. For your accountant, the tax season is just getting started. Get an inside view of the workload the busy season requires and the skills your tax accountant needs to rock it.
Preparing Themselves for Tax Season
Before tax season gets started, your accountant doesn’t just prepare your business for the months ahead. They also start by preparing themselves and their firm for the months ahead. Here are a few things they have to keep in mind:
Keep Up to Date on Changes in the Tax Code
Throughout the year, tax accountants have to keep their eye on changes to the U.S. tax code. Some years, this involves keeping track of major adjustments that completely revise well-known statutes.
Maintain the Software
Accountants also have to ensure their tax and accounting software is up to date before tax season gets going. That way, if anything changes, they are familiar with the software when it really counts.
Check Data Security
Making sure your data and sensitive information is secure is your accountant’s top priority. Part of their preparation checklist leading up to tax season includes ensuring their system is secure and will protect your information.
Prepare the Clients
It really helps your accountant make the most of tax season when some tax preparation is already done before they prepare your filing. Many accountants will provide their clients with checklists and important documentation to work on beforehand.
The Busy Tax Season: Part One
Most people know that tax season is the period from early February to April 15. Most business tax deadlines fall within this period, as does the deadline for individual tax filings. Though many businesses apply for six-month extensions, their accountants do have to help them file for those extensions. This is in addition to monitoring the result of the extension filing and assisting their other clients who may be ineligible for an extension. In addition to this, they are also helping their individual clients prepare their filings for April 15.
If your accountant does other forms of accounting besides tax accounting, this time is especially busy for them. Most businesses end their year on December 31. Accountants often have to do tax and audit preparation during this period, in addition to closing the books and working on the annual budgets. On the one hand, this is great—more billable hours now means less stress during the off-season. However, this also means that accountants are under a lot of stress for the first several months of the year.
The Busy Tax Season: Part Two
After April 15, once the official filing season is over, accountants get a small reprieve before the second wave begins. This second busy season usually begins in mid-July and lasts through October.
This is primarily attributable to those six-month extensions that businesses often apply for. Once the extension is granted, most business tax filings are due in September or October. Additionally, many small business do their taxes quarterly, and one of those deadlines also falls in September. This period is also spent helping any individual clients who also qualified for an extension.
Surviving the Busy Season
Many of these qualities are qualities that employers look for in their accountants when they hire them. These characteristics especially serve your tax accountant during all of their busy seasons.
Tax season is full of deadlines, forms, rules, regulations, and constant changes both professionally and legally. Organized accountants are able to take each of these elements in stride. They have a mental countdown to pertinent deadlines so they can help their clients meet them. They know which forms a business needs to fill out with only a few pieces of information. An organized accountant is a great accountant.
As tax accountants gain experience, they will know exactly how long it takes them to complete a certain filing or a certain task. This helps them set appointments with their clients, manage their clients’ expectations and prioritize their workload.
Applied in conjunction with their organization skills, time management skills empower your accountant to personalize each of their clients’ experiences according to their needs and their business.
No two days are exactly alike in the world of accounting. This is especially true during tax season. Your accountant may spend one day helping a client with perfectly organized and categorized records. The next day, they may be helping a client who has kept all their records from the last three years in several shoeboxes.
Tax laws and regulations can also change from one day to another. Your accountant must maintain a sense of adaptability in order to best serve their clients and their clients’ businesses.
Accounting, taxes and finance are information-dense fields. Your accountant has gone through years of education, training and work experience. Sometimes, this information can be difficult to understand for business owners. Your accountant needs to hone the ability to take dense concepts and make them accessible for their clients in order to help them with their business. This is something accountants need to practice and work on, even in a high-stress situation like tax season.
Accounting is a rewarding career field in many ways. Outside of the busy seasons, it affords a great work life balance. There are also ample opportunities for education and self-improvement at every stage of an accountant’s career.
However, during tax season, it can be easy to lose sight of some of the perks a career in accounting provides. Your accountant needs to be able to acknowledge when they are starting to feel burnt out and when they need to practice some self-care. If they are taking care of themselves, they will be in the best position to take care of you and your business.