Tax & Accounting Blog

Beware the Ides of March

Accounting Firms, CS Tax & Asset Management Solutions March 16, 2016

Although the Ides of March (March 15) has long been associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar, modern Americans now associate it with something that could be considered even more gruesome: the corporate tax filing deadline.

Luckily for ancient Roman generals, this year the only thing dying on the Ides of March is an era. That’s because in 2017, the corporate deadline moves to the Ides of April to coincide with the individual filing deadline, while the partnership deadline moves up to March 15 to coincide with the filing deadline for S-Corporations (which remains the same).

As much as I’m amazed by how positive the impact of a small, well-managed change in an accounting firm can be, it can be equally amazing (and terrifying) to witness how much havoc can come from a badly managed change.

So here’s a question for you: what will you do to prepare for the change, and to minimize its impact on your office?

Beyond the technical—things like updating the due dates of projects in your practice management system (and for those of you using Practice CS, keep an eye on this blog for some guidance coming soon)—there are several other items I encourage you to consider:

  • How will the timing of your tax engagements change? Although some may take the easy road and simply put a lot more returns on extension, you might consider seizing a new opportunity. Getting those partnerships done by March 15 gives you ample time to finish off the recipients’ individual returns by April 15 (which, after all, was one of the factors driving the IRS to make the change).
  • How will this change impact your workload as you approach the fall deadlines next year? Will you have less work hanging over your head? If so, maybe there’s an opportunity for a vacation you might not have otherwise taken.
  • How will your (batch) extension creation process change? Do you normally place associated 1040 returns on extension alongside their associated 1065 returns? If so, should you set up a reminder system now so you can be sure to place those related individual returns on extension next March?
  • Based on any changes to your engagements, will you need to staff differently next year? Will you be pushing more of your individual work off until later in the tax season to work on business returns? If so, can you bring on temporary staff later than you normally would? Moving up your business return engagements can help mitigate the risk of staff sitting idle, as those returns are far less subject to legislative delays than 1040s.
  • Are you worried about moving up your business work because it might compress the time you have to work on individual returns? Deliberately decompress your 1040 workflow now; if you’re an UltraTax CS user, I encourage you to take advantage of the three free eSignatures available to you in UltraTax CS through April 18. You’re likely to find that it shaves a lot of unnecessary admin time and waiting off your overall 1040 process, counteracting any compression you might feel around this time next year.
  • Although the deadline shift appears trivial at first glance, don’t allow it to make a mess of the spring 2017 tax season for your firm. Beware the Ides of March April!