Voices

Art of Accounting: You made it!?

By the time you read this, tax season should be over. I’ve heard from many colleagues that tax season was not good. I was given a lot of reasons, but here are some things that could have prevented or mitigated some of the problems:

IRS 1040 Individual Income Tax form instructions for the 2018 tax year
U.S. Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 1040 Individual Income Tax form instructions for the 2018 tax year are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, March 11, 2019. Fewer people are getting refunds this year and that's causing angst for Republicans who want to convince voters that the 2017 tax overhaul really did give them a tax cut. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

  • Train staff better.
  • Supervise staff better.
  • Use more organized procedures.
  • Insist that procedures are followed.
  • Push some work into the previous November or December, or even earlier.
  • Add some extra staff.
  • Don’t start overtime until absolutely necessary. This conserves the energy and pushes the overtime to the really busy period.
  • Let the week after March 15 be a lower overtime period, providing a breather and then ask staff to work harder and longer hours until April 15.
  • Pay staff for overtime in the next paycheck rather than paying a tax season “bonus” sometime after tax season ends. This provides an instant gratification to staff and their families with the extra take home pay that a vague future bonus cannot.
  • Get all of the partners on the same page regarding interactions with staff, following procedures, responsiveness to staff questions, and following up with clients.

Some of these are like a broken record and keep reappearing. If you’ve read this before, and tax season wasn’t fun, then maybe you should start with some changes. 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.