For busy accountants who are responsible for filing taxes on behalf of the approximately 82 million out of 228 million American adults who opt to use professional services, tax season is an emotionally wrought time.
For accountants, a busy plate often leads to a poor work/life balance, botched sleep schedules, poor eating habits, and problems in personal relationships. Perhaps these drawbacks are why many accountants scrutinize every potential client, according to a survey by OfficeMax. An accountant may have to turn a client away because they already have an overloaded client roster, or because the potential client has a questionable or an overly complicated tax situation. Fortunately, having organized, take-charge clients makes the season just a bit more bearable.
During tax time, Americans prefer to take financial matters into their own hands. Nearly half (46 percent) of those who have ever filed an income tax return prefer to invest their own time and energy by filing taxes themselves. Others opt to rely on someone else, like a professional accountant (34 percent) or a friend or family member (14 percent). More men than women (51 percent vs. 42 percent) prefer to prepare their own tax returns, while women are more likely than their male counterparts (38 percent vs. 33 percent) to seek out the services of an accountant.
Perhaps even more Americans would prepare their own returns if there wasn’t a perceived risk involved. In fact, four in ten think taking a pair of scissors to their own hair is less dangerous than filing their own taxes.
Fortunately, accountants can take on more work as tax returns can be completed much more accurately and swiftly in recent years as they move away from traditional methods of computing towards more advanced processes. Seventy-five percent of accountants plan to use tax preparation software to file taxes this year. Others will rely on accounting (18 percent) and business and tax software (13 percent) to get the job done.
Using cutting-edge tax software or income tax programs doesn’t take away most of the daily aggravations accountants face, however. Many of their frustrations are rooted in the service aspect of their jobs. Dealing with unprepared or careless clients (64 percent), handling complex tax situations (36 percent), managing aggressive clients (23 percent) and even obtaining new clients (14 percent) can be quite the headache for these professionals.
Tax preparation season affects everyone differently—and accountants have seen it all. Over half (53 percent) say their clients’ overall mood is generally anxious, while others seem worried (29 percent). Far fewer clients visit the office feeling confident (14 percent) or relaxed (14 percent).
Perhaps it’s due to some of the interesting write-offs they provide to their accountants. According to accountants surveyed, they’ve seen almost every type of deduction attempted—from the depreciation of cows, expenses of raising a cat and a hot tub for medical purposes. One accountant said a client tried to claim water bottle costs towards health care since his doctor told him he needed to drink more water.
Accountants say they’re far more likely to see these types of deductions from their male clients as opposed to their female clientele, admitting that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of women are typically more put together when filing taxes than men. Age also plays a role in how efficient and organized clients are. About two-thirds (65 percent) of accountants think that their 45 and older clientele are generally more organized and efficient than their younger counterparts when filing their tax returns.
Regardless of gender or age, Americans have a chance to make their accountants' life at work a bit less harrowing. Nearly six in ten accountants say their jobs are made easier by working with clients who take charge and are on top of what needs to get done, rather than those who are laid-back and happy to turn everything over to them. And for the most part, most of their clients are efficient when filing their taxes. Close to eight in ten (79 percent) accountants say their clients are organized, such as having their W-2 forms and receipts in order, when it’s time to work on their income taxes—as long as those receipts don’t include pet food for the dependents they’re claiming.
These days, most Americans are just feeling generally uneasy about their taxes. Sixty percent admit they are nervous about having their taxes audited. That’s more than those who are worried about other nerve-wracking situations like receiving a performance review at work (39 percent) or visiting the doctor for an annual check-up (35 percent)
Whether Americans do their own taxes or hire a pro, certain emotions can get in the way of filing income taxes in a timely fashion. Procrastination (45 percent) is one of the biggest challenges for those who haven’t filed in a suitable timeline by this time of year. Others blame nervousness about filing taxes correctly (28 percent), confusion and the process (26 percent), laziness (23 percent), and lack of organization (20 percent) as reasons they may have dropped the ball in getting their taxes completed in a desirable timeline.
Americans who file tax returns hope for a refund check when all is said and done. Over half (57 percent) of them think of this refund as a means to pay bills and other expenses. Others think it’s a reward for taxes they pay every year (30 percent) or simply something that every American deserves (23 percent).
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