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Tax Preparation

Tax practice tune up: five tips for the off season

Corey Greene  

Corey Greene  

With busy season behind you, now is the perfect time to get a head start on next year’s tax season. Check out these five tax practice tune up tips for the off season.

With busy season behind you, now is the perfect time to get a head start on next year’s tax season. Check out these five tips to tune up your tax practice in the off-season. Your future self will thank you.

1) Request client feedback.

With your services still top of mind, ask your clients what worked and what didn’t this year. Consider a phone call or a short anonymous survey asking for their candid feedback. This will help you identify specific pain points from last season. Then, create a plan to remedy them in the year ahead.

It also may be helpful to create a journey map of your firm’s tax processes from your clients’ perspective to determine how you can improve service at each interaction.

2) Request staff feedback.

While tax season is still fresh, encourage staff members to create a list of the inefficiencies, repetitive tasks and other challenges they faced this year. Then, consolidate the items into a single list. During the off-season, consider a regular meeting to sit down with staff and tackle the list one-by-one. As you determine the ideal solution to each item, work backwards to address it based on what’s feasible in the year ahead. Even if you’re not able to address every issue on the list, your employees will appreciate your interest in making improvements for them – and you may see a boost in morale.

You could also ask your staff about their physical working environment to ensure peripherals and workstations are set up appropriately. Extra monitors or better ergonomic setups can make a world of difference.

3) Focus on CPE and Continuing Education for staff.

The off-season is a great time to ensure your firm’s tax preparers are caught up on CPE and continuing education that will better prepare them for next year. With all the changes brought on by the TCJA, this tip is especially important as you strengthen your knowledge of tax reform to better support clients in the year ahead.

4) Plan a mid-year check in with clients.

A mid-year check-in can help ensure that the lines of communication are open and there are fewer surprises for clients during busy season. It can also help you get ahead of any questions your clients have prior to tax season and proactively relieve some of the burden of inquiries during the busiest part of your year. By checking in proactively, you may strengthen your relationships and build goodwill during the offseason that could carry through to busy season.

5) Consider technology to enhance your tax processes.

Perhaps the most important step you can take now to get ahead for next year is to identify the ways you can better use technology to your advantage. Tools that streamline your research and enable a more efficient workflow are certain to make tax season less stressful.

For example, if your staff found it challenging to search for information while preparing or reviewing tax returns, technology solutions that provide trusted, in-context answers can eliminate this pain. Firms using these solutions can link out from their tax software input and forms screens to line-by-line explanations using real-life examples and worksheets without disrupting their workflow. Read How to empower your staff to become more self-sufficient during the tax season for more tips.

You could also use this time to make the move from manual data collection methods to online or mobile-friendly questionnaires that integrate with your tax software. Or, if your firm has not implemented an electronic signature option, now may be the time. Not only will these types of technology enhance your workflow, but they will also make the process easier for your clients. For more suggestions, read 3 ways to achieve work-life balance during tax season.

Remember: The off-season is an opportunity to ready your game plan for next tax season. If you put in the work now, you’ll be ready to tackle next year with confidence. Tune up your tax practice now for a successful season next year.

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