Even as you woke up from that three-day nap after April 18, you knew you had to make money the rest of 2016, too. Lucky you’re in a field where that’s getting easier.
“For the true tax professional, there is no such thing as an off season anymore,” said Enrolled Agent John Dundon, of Taxpayer Advocacy Services in Englewood, Colo., and a blogger at www.JohnRDundon.com. “December, January and February is tax planning time, entity income tax forms are due in March, personals are due in April, non-profits in May, internationals in June. July and August are always filled with representation work. September, October and November we are all seriously focused on the complicated extension deadlines.”
“We perform write-up and payroll services throughout the year,” said Twila Midwood, an EA at Advanced Tax Centre in Rockledge, Fla. “We also seem to stay busy with extensions and addressing those clients who need representation help – especially with those pesky CP2000 notices.”
“In between,” Dundon added, “we cram in the continuing education to stay abreast of the ever changing Tax Code.”
The big three
Many preparers seem to rely on a few key services to stay busy after Tax Day. Terri Ryman, an EA at Southwest Tax & Accounting, in Elkhart, Kansas, depends on “representation, payroll and accounting. We provide payroll services either weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually … and this segment of my business accounts for 19 percent of my income now. Accounting is another 34 percent.”
“Many tax preparers do monthly or quarterly accounting. We’ve found that is not the best use of our time and complicates tax season,” said Michael Deininger of Deininger & Co., Kenosha, Wis. “As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, I like to convert my client’s manual processes to Quickbooks. I [also] do financial planning, specializing in planning for Social Security and retirement issues.”
“My practice also provides QuickBooks support, accounting and payroll services. Those are year-round tasks and I've found it helps to even out the cash flow,” said G. Faith Owens, an EA at Grade A Business Services in Glendale, Ariz.
Additional, off-season services can bring in good money. Payroll makes up about 8 percent of gross revenue of firms nationwide recently surveyed the National Society of Accountants (http://www.nsacct.org/home); firms surveyed changed an average $80 an hour for the service, an 11 percent jump in just seven years.
The same survey found that most firms charge an hourly fee ($144) to represent a client in-person before the IRS in a matter not the responsibility of the firm, and an average $81 an hour for QuickBooks or bookkeeping consulting.
“Not everyone likes payroll or accounting, but the more we do, the better we’ve become at it,” Ryman said. “The balance of our income is derived from representation – increasing due to self-prepared returns.”
Jennifer Brown, an EA at Implex Tax & Accounting in Clearfield, Utah, spends her off season “marketing and building clientele for the next year. I speak with the people in industries that provide me the most referrals. I also seek out the non-filers or late filers: They can be a great source of revenue during that time.”
Brown also keeps busy – and profitable – off season “fixing the returns that are self-filed. They get the nasty-grams from the IRS and have no idea what to do. I help them figure out the letter and resolve it. From that point on, they’re usually not self-filers anymore.”
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