Voices

Art of Accounting: The busiest week of the year

I started to write a column about how I grew my practice with suggestions about what readers could also do, but then I realized that very few would be interested in this type of article this week. For me the last week of tax season was always my busiest week. Let me share some last-minute observations.

tax planning-1040-IRS
U.S. Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 1040 Individual Income Tax forms for the 2016 tax year are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. This week marks the last leg of Republicans' push to revamp the U.S. tax code, with both the House and Senate planning to vote by Wednesday on final legislation before sending it to President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

  • The only focus my partners and I had was to get the tax returns we had in-house completed. Nothing else mattered. The volume of clients was staggering and getting a return done a day sooner made a big difference.
  • While we were rushing, we had to be careful and not slip up with a return, or take a client for granted.
  • No matter how busy we were, it wasn’t the clients’ concerns nor should it be made a concern of theirs. We must never act like we were “too busy” or harried or that we weren’t treating the client’s work with less than the utmost attention and focus they deserve and that they pay for. And that must be the reality.
  • The last week of tax season is the last week and there is no tomorrow, so anything not falling into that type of work needs to be pushed aside, i.e., rescheduled to be done after April 15. Take April 16 off and then clean up the backlog — with focus and attention. You might recall I previously have written that you should schedule your vacation for May, not April.
  • I know schedules need to be juggled, but do it in a way that gets as many returns as possible out to the client a day earlier. Do not sit on anything. Every return completed a day earlier relieves pressure and reduces phone calls and extra handling.
  • As busy as this week will be, I suggest getting every return where you have the information done without extending them, unless the return warrants it irrespective of the time crunch. At this time of year, you are working at your peak effectiveness and efficiency with staff availability you won’t have anymore for the rest of the year. Take advantage of the situation and get it done!
  • Be and think “user friendly.” Assume you are your client. How would you want and expect to be treated? If your return has an unexpected result, wouldn’t you want a heads-up phone call? If you will be mailing your return to the tax agency and received it at the last minute, wouldn’t it be nice if the envelopes had the proper postage affixed for you? If you have a complicated return, wouldn’t you like a clear summary or memo, or a call explaining the return? If you had a question, wouldn’t you like to be able to reach your accountant without a fuss? If there was an unforeseen delay, wouldn’t you prefer a call before you called to get an update?
  • Clients pay your salary. Treat each client the way they expect to be treated — as an important client!

I know you are busy so I won’t burden you with what you should be doing beyond what I wrote above. I hope your next week is as easy and calm as it could be. For those of you who had things under great control and are not busy right now, you are to be commended. For the others, it’s only one more week.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com.with your practice management issues or questions.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.