Take Control Of Tax Season In 4 Steps

by Chris Liebtag, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt | March 2015

When you are in the business of preparing tax returns, this time of year is tough. Not just because it’s tax season, but because so much of your productivity depends on your clients. Or does it? 

Sure, without the trial balances, W-2s, K-1s and other documentation given to you by your clients you can’t do your job. But what if, instead of waiting for your client to pass this information along to you when they are ready, you take a more proactive approach. Take steps now to avoid the crunch-time chaos.

HELP THEM HELP YOU

It’s been weeks since you sent your clients their organizers and PBC lists, but you are still waiting to hear back from them. A quick glance at the calendar will tell you the filing deadline is closer than you want it to be. Instead of working on a steady stream of tax returns, you begin to prepare for the inevitable barrage of work to hit at the 11th hour. There’s nothing left to do but wait and stress …

Not this year.

Don’t become a victim of work compression. Here are four tips to help you make better use of your time today and avoid the tax-time crunch tomorrow. 

1.      Identify the “regulars.”

You may have noticed that every year the same group of people struggles to send you all their information on time. Focus on this group and make an extra effort to reach out to them.

2.      Pick up the phone.

Email is a great way to disseminate information, but it’s a poor communication tool. If you truly want to establish expectations and accountability with your client, few tools work as well as simply picking up the phone.

3.      Help them to help you. 

Sometimes clients like to wait until they are certain they have every piece of information and documentation before sending in their packets. Check in with these clients and let them know that they don’t need to wait for their last K-1 or brokerage statement to send their information to you. In fact, they need to know that it’s easier for you if you are able to get a head start. 

4.      It’s not too soon to extend.

We all have clients who go on extension every year. Rather than waiting until crunch time, you can save yourself hours of work and frustration by placing these habitual extenders on extension now.

Engaging your clients during tax season is a great way to further solidify these relationships while helping you maintain a balanced and productive workflow. Email LeanCPA to learn more ways to increase your firm’s productivity and client engagement.

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