Already, many tax advisors are looking forward (if that’s the right word!) to their busiest time of the year – the run-up to 31 January. What can be done to prepare? Better still, how can this year’s lessons become the basis for next year’s improvements? We asked Kevin Reed, a writer and freelance journalist with extensive experience of the profession, to find out how some of them are approaching the task.
As you go into this year’s tax season, you might like to consider Stephen Covey’s much-quoted aphorism to “begin with the end in mind”. That’s one of the messages to be found in this handy guide to preparing for your next tax season.
By noting what went well – and not so well – this year, you’ll be well prepared for the first stage of the guide’s four-step programme for process improvement. In summary, these four steps are:
The improvement process starts with an extensive debrief in February. This is where you review the highs and lows of the last few weeks, canvassing the views of the team and learning from their shared experiences.
Create a plan of action
Taking your debrief as the starting point, the next step is to develop a plan of action to improve your systems, processes and workflows. Communication is vital at this stage so your clients understand what’s expected from them and your staff stay on board with the changes.
Your practice will now be in a good position to make the necessary changes to the tax return process. As well as having mechanisms to deal with last-minute returns, you’ll also be able to use early returns as part of your testing phase for new processes and any new technology that you’re implementing. These can be crucial to your success.
You need determination to see your plan through and single-minded attention to the details of the plan. But you also need the support of your staff and the continued involvement of your clients. Now’s the time for morale-boosting and teamwork – the prospect of finishing the season in a better shape than last year will definitely help!
The increasing digitalisation of the profession is changing the way practices and their clients operate. The good news is that solving the digital challenge also means solving some of the problems associated with the annual spike in tax workload.
Download our guide today to discover how your practice can navigate the tax filing season more effectively and make long-lasting improvements to the way you work in the future.