While staffing, training, new software applications and the latest tax law changes are at the top of every practitioner's to-do list for the tax filing season that looms ahead, the overriding concern this year is the economic crisis and the changes facing both themselves and their clients.

Tough economic times and potential changes on the horizon mean that both businesses and individuals need to take extra care in the months ahead to maximize tax savings, according to Cheryl Burke, chief operating officer of Boston-based DeCicco, Gulman & Co. LLP. "Accounting firms have always been a lagging indicator," she said. "Clients still need their returns and other financial documents."

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