Art of Accounting: Boo hoo, tax season is ending

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It’s the last week of tax season so I do not expect too many people will read this column, but those who do are exceptional.

If you are reading this, it means you care about your accounting and tax preparation business and do not just look at it as a place where you go to make your living. You took time — valuable time — to see what is going on and what tips you might pick up, either from me or the other columnists in Accounting Today. I imagine you think of yourself as a business owner and not as a provider of a compliance service. Besides, tax preparation is a 12-month business. Tax preparation work now lasts until October 15, with the remaining couple of months doing tax projections and gearing up for the next tax season.

I’ve always loved tax season. While some of the work can be grueling and even a relief when it ends, I always miss it afterwards. Not the long hours, or constant pressure, or self-created “emergencies,” but the client interaction. Do you realize how many people you personally connect with either in person, on the phone, by email or text threads? Most likely it is more people in the concentrated tax season than everyone you will deal with during the rest of the year. Probably two or three times more people. That is fun and an interesting, stimulating and invaluable experience. Besides helping people with their taxes, you likely throw in some financial planning or sage personal business or money comments or are updated on their and their family’s ongoing growth and activities. This is powerful stuff and it places you in the position of being their trusted advisor.

You can’t have the good without the bad. We try, and then try some more, and sometimes we succeed somewhat, but on some basis, tax season doesn’t seem to feel much better year to year. It should, but for many it doesn’t. (For me it always gets better. Not perfect, but always better!)

I have a few suggestions which I wrote about here on Nov. 13, 2017. BTW, the ideas in that listing work. Try to implement three or four every year. Here are additional comments:

Tax season has to be put into perspective. It is part of a larger business. Many of the tax season clients are for annual tax returns, but using my 1/20th method you should be able to generate additional services from at least 5 percent of your tax clients each year, adding revenue and strengthening relationships. Also, tax clients can be effective referrers of new clients, but you need to recognize the opportunities and work at them. And tax season is a profit generator. I’ve never heard a complaint about tax season as the payments are being deposited.

Boo hoo, tax season is ending, but never fear, it will reappear next year — hopefully in a gentler version. And you will make it happen because you have your heads screwed on the right way.

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Tax season Tax practice Client relations Client communications Ed Mendlowitz