We’ve made it through tax season 2018. But even though we’re not in the thick of preparing for next year just yet, don’t make the mistake of thinking tax prep is something you only need to think about once a year. Accounting firms play a vital role for client businesses in setting them up for success in this area with a strategy that remains strong and in-play all year.

Moving through tax season affords accounting professionals an excellent platform to educate clients on how to best approach their long game. It’s our job to ensure the best tax scenario for every client, by helping them staying in top condition thanks to your expertise and diligence quarter after quarter.

Leaders in accounting can guide their clients in order to avoid what many see as an annual “March Madness” surrounding the filing deadline for corporate taxes. Here are four best practices from Supporting Strategies, an outsourced bookkeeping firm with offices across the country.

1. Avoid stress and the need for a buzzer-beater

A game-saving shot at the final buzzer is an exciting moment in basketball. But if you own a small business, being behind late in the game by not having complete, accurate records to present to a tax preparer isn't exciting; it's just stressful. This is especially true if your last-second attempt at a buzzer-beater is off-target. Teach clients to prepare and avoid this anxiety by maintaining good financial records all year long. An outsourced bookkeeping or accounting services provider should offer this to clients as a continual benefit of working together. Keep their game strong every quarter, so tax time isn’t so high pressure.

2. Stay educated and prevent clients from committing technical fouls

Across the board, the number one thing that can ensure a smooth ride through tax season is knowing the rule book, through-and-through. This type of coaching is what clients rely on accounting firms for. Help clients stay on top of their game by maintaining a consistent approach, tracking everything as it happens. Besides creating stress, disorganized or incomplete records can have a financial cost, either through unclaimed deductions clients might be entitled to or penalties for missed deadlines or back taxes. Again, an outsourced bookkeeping services provider can help spare clients this aggravation.

3. Be savvy about bracket-busters

Prove your value to clients by understanding how they can develop and execute a winning strategy that leverages ever-changing rules and limitations. With the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in effect in 2018, C corporations are now taxed at a flat rate of 21 percent instead of the old graduated scale that ranged from 15 percent to 39 percent. If you have clients that are currently filing as LLCs or S corps, you might want to talk with them about the potential benefits of becoming a C corp instead. Obviously, this would require carefully tracking all records and paperwork related to the change – this is where business can really realize the ongoing benefits of an outsourced accounting firm.

4. Set-up for a sweet 16

For a small-business owner, there's no sweeter feeling than waking up on tax deadline day, with certainty that all their tax filings were in good order and on time, thanks to their accounting provider. Give your clients peace of mind that lasts all year, and appreciation for the value you’re working to create all year round – to avoid what so many business owners experience as “March Madness” year after year.

Leslie Jorgensen

Leslie Jorgensen

Leslie Jorgensen is CEO of outsourced bookkeeping firm Supporting Strategies.