For most tax firms, tax season is the busiest time of year. That is why it is essential to prepare so your business can continue to run smoothly, despite heightened workloads and demand. Not only will it make internal operations better, but your clients will surely appreciate the initiative your business has taken to make the process as painless as possible, so they no longer have to dread tax season. Instead, they will know that they can rely on you to provide them with prompt, reliable tax preparation and a pleasant all-around experience.
Special Considerations Regarding COVID-19
Before we jump into the general steps of preparing for a typical tax season, it is important to highlight that 2020 is an exception. As a tax professional and business owner, it can be difficult to navigate these unprecedented times. With the COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacting how people live their lives and how they spend their money, it’s important to prepare so you can limit the disruption to your business, and ensure the safety of your employees and customers. Some additional steps you may need to take this year include:
- Refining your online communication and processes to assist customers better
- Preparing your office space to meet social distancing standards
- Equipping your office with PPE and hand sanitizer
- Planning for dips in income and how you will pay for expenses in the meantime
To prepare your business adequately, we recommend reviewing these COVID resources for tax professionals.
Now, let’s review the typical steps you would take for preparing for a normal tax season…
Step 1: Make Sure Registrations Are Up to Date
Making sure registrations are up-to-date helps keep your business in compliance. If your state has registration requirements for tax preparation, you will need to ensure that any member of your staff that will be assisting tax preparation is properly registered. You may also need to renew registration for your firm.
Step 2: Ensure You Are Properly Staffed
While you may be able to meet the needs of your customers with your current staff throughout most of the year, tax season may push your team to the limits if you are not prepared. For many tax firms, that may mean that it is necessary to bring on more team members heading into tax season to handle the increased workload. If you are not planning to hire additional staff, you will likely need to prepare to work longer hours.
Reviewing the previous years’ tax return volume as well as new inquiries or referrals can help you make projections for this year.
Step 3: Increase Your Marketing
If you need to bring in more clients for tax preparation, the months leading up to tax season are essential for marketing your business. Whether that’s investing in SEO and targeting new clients with pay-per-click ads or sending email newsletters to current clients who are using your business for other services.
This is an especially important step if you are a newer tax firm that is still building your client base.
Step 4: Touch Base with Regular Clients
Reaching out to clients that you have served before can help cut down on back and forth when the time comes to file, ensure they have everything they need, and keep you top of mind when it comes to doing their taxes. For clients who you know will need special attention due to their tax situation, you can reach out to them personally to assist them before you become inundated with requests. You can also send out a general email newsletter to your clients with tips to help them prepare for filing and a reminder to schedule with you to have their taxes prepared.
Step 5: Refine Your Processes
To best serve your clients when tax season arrives you want to have your processes streamlined, which will benefit both you and your customers. This may include:
- Updating your tax preparation software
- Researching tax law updates that may affect your clients
- Modifying internal policies regarding communication and customer service
- Training for new staff members so they are able to work as efficiently as possible
- Ensure that all of your systems are secure to protect sensitive data
- Develop resources for team members to use during tax season
By following these steps, you can help ensure that your firm is prepared for the upcoming tax season and provides exceptional service to your clients.