"There have been nine pieces of tax legislation passed this year," he noted. "The primary responsibility for accountants is to adequately and accurately reflect things that happen to the taxpayer in a way that gives the taxpayer the greatest benefit allowed by the legal system. Tax planning helps the preparer to meet this responsibility."

The importance of tax planning increases during economic slowdowns, according to Dean Sonderegger, product director at BNA Software. "When you have tight economic times, that's when practitioners can provide additional value to clients," he explained. "It can be very helpful to the practitioner, because these are times when customers might be pulling away from services like compliance. It can be as simple as making sure that if you have new clients, you look at their prior years' returns to see if there's an opportunity to amend."

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