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Making Tax Season More Bearable – Part One: Establishing Mutual Expectations With Your Clients

Alison Garcia Feb 16, 2016 5:22:23 PM

The more that I work with accountants and bookkeepers, the more I have come to realize that many people do not understand the frantic nature this time of year presents. Although the process of preparing for tax season is not a major undertaking for many business owners, they de-prioritize proper planning and preparation for their tax preparer. They know their accountant is busy and working many extra hours during this season, but they do not correlate how their irresponsibility and procrastination substantially compound the busyness.

A diligent proactive plan will not only help to create a manageable schedule for accounting firms but if properly done, creates a working partnership with their client where they are now participating in creating a successful process. Although many accounting firms will attempt to schedule appointments ahead of time and create a tax season “calendar”, the success of this process is still largely predicated on the client’s awareness of the necessity for planning.

So how is this partnership achieved? One of the most difficult processes for any business is how to make the “intangible tangible”. In other words, how do you make a client aware of what tax season looks like for your firm when they are willing to participate in a team concept as opposed to how it affects your staff when you have to chase down information?

So of course this year’s tax season is already under way but how can you chronicle for your clients what went well this year and what caused the extra work and long hours for your team? By capturing this narrative and making it available to your clients immediately following tax season in addition to prior to next year’s tax season, you can begin to propose/construct your plan for future tax seasons explaining that you want to work with them to improve efficiency but more importantly minimize undue stress for your team.

Additionally, provide some subtle awards for early tax season participants like a drawing for tickets to a local area sports teams for any client that submits their paperwork and schedules their tax meeting by whatever date you choose.
By implementing these steps, you will move closer to establishing a “team” perspective with your clients where they better understand how they affect your firm when they are slow in responding and how working together, they can make tax season more bearable for everyone.

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