3 min read

Making Tax Season Easier Next Year: A Guide for Accountants


As the dust settles on another complex tax season, it’s a perfect time for accountants working in accounting firms to reflect on the challenges faced and plan for a smoother tax season next year. While the tax season is inherently busy and is often stressful, there are strategies and best practices that can significantly ease the process. Here, we delve into practical steps that accounting professionals can implement to make the next tax season more manageable, and less likely to cause you to subscribe to a regular shipment of Alka-Seltzer. 



1. Post-Tax Season Review

The end of tax season provides an invaluable opportunity for a comprehensive review. Gather your team for a debrief session to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and why. Identify bottlenecks in your processes and areas where clients had the most questions or difficulties. Collecting feedback from both your team and your clients can offer insights into improvements and innovations for next year.

If you’re concerned you can’t get frank and open feedback in a team session, solicit anonymous responses instead, and assure your staff your mind is open to any possibility that can improve the process for next year.


2. Embrace Technology


In today’s digital age, leveraging technology is non-negotiable. From cloud-based accounting software to automated data entry tools and advanced tax preparation software, technology can significantly reduce manual tasks and errors. Invest in training your team on these platforms to maximize efficiency. Additionally, using client portals for secure document exchange and communication can streamline the process and enhance client satisfaction (secure document exchange and storage are part of the Botkeeper platform — just sayin’).


3. Year-Round Preparation

Tax season is not just a once-a-year event; it requires year-round preparation. Encourage clients to maintain organized records throughout the year to avoid the last-minute scramble. Regular check-ins with clients can help keep their financial records in order and identify potential tax planning opportunities early. This approach not only reduces stress during tax season but also allows for more strategic tax planning.

Have trouble getting your clients to communicate outside of tax season? It’s possible you need to shore up your approach.


4. Set Clear Deadlines and Expectations with Clients


Clear communication with clients is critical for a smooth tax season. Set and communicate clear deadlines for when clients need to submit their documentation. Provide clients with a comprehensive checklist of required documents to minimize back-and-forth communications and ensure nothing is missed. Setting these expectations early and reinforcing them can help prevent delays and last-minute submissions.

Looking to get more clients to comply with your deadlines? Consider offering small discounts for those who get their paperwork in prior to a certain date as an inducement. It’s simpler than nagging, and way more legal than sending out goons with baseball bats.


5. Staff Training and Development

A well-trained staff is your best asset during tax season. Investing in continuous professional development and training ensures your team is up-to-date with the latest tax laws, regulations, and best practices. Consider bringing in external experts for specialized training sessions or encouraging staff to attend relevant webinars and conferences. This not only enhances your team’s expertise but also boosts morale and job satisfaction.

And don’t forget about soft skills. You’ve likely hired staff who are highly competent technically, but not all accountants have “the touch” when it comes to working with others both inside and outside the firm.


6. Optimize Your Workflow


Review and optimize your workflow before the next tax season. This includes evaluating your current project management tools, communication channels, and task delegation processes. Implementing a more streamlined workflow can help reduce redundancy and increase productivity. Consider adopting project management software specifically designed for accounting firms to keep track of deadlines, client communications, and task progress.


7. Focus on Client Education

Educating your clients about the importance of timely and accurate financial reporting can significantly ease the tax preparation process. Offer educational resources, workshops, or webinars on topics such as record-keeping best practices, tax-deductible expenses, and updates in tax legislation. An informed client is more likely to comply with deadlines and requirements, reducing delays and improving the overall efficiency of the tax preparation process.


8. Prioritize Self-Care and Team Wellness


Finally, it’s essential to acknowledge the toll that the busy season can take on mental and physical health. Encourage a culture of self-care within your firm. This could include offering flexible working hours, providing resources for stress management, and encouraging breaks and time off. A team that feels supported and valued is more likely to perform well under pressure.

And remember not everyone responds the same way to stress, or with the same intensity. Some employees might need your understanding and flexibility more often or earlier into a stressful time than others will. Try not to think of your staff as monolithic.

While the tax season will always be a demanding time for accountants, implementing these strategies can significantly reduce stress and improve efficiency. By taking proactive steps towards organization, continuous improvement, and leveraging technology, accounting firms can transform the tax season from a period of dread to an opportunity for growth and client engagement. Remember, the key to a smoother tax season lies in preparation, innovation, and teamwork.


It’s no coincidence that many of the suggestions you find here are addressed with Botkeeper Infinite. Our platform combines automated bookkeeping with advanced task and project management, a secure place for document storage and exchange, fluid and easy-to-track communications, secure password storage, and much, MUCH more. And with the release of Botkeeper Infinite, you’ll be able to get a software-only version of the platform your firm administers itself for only $69/month per client. Interested? Check it out today!


Get Started