Especially during tax season, it can be challenging to get through all of your work efficiently. However, there are tips and tricks to streamline your tax preparation process. That way, you can serve more clients in less time while still being highly accurate. This article provides you with such tips.
What Is Tax Preparation And What Are The Processes?
Tax preparation is a series of processes that determine the amount of tax an individual or company must pay on their income. A good tax preparer should have a thorough understanding of how to file taxes properly, keeping in mind all changes in relevant laws.
The typical tax preparer will:
- Collect information about the client.
- Enter that information into the software provided by certain companies.
- Run diagnostics on those forms.
- Resolve any issues found during the diagnostics period.
- Check whether the numbers are accurate.
- Verify whether the data entered has been double-checked for potential errors.
Tax preparers also need to fill out any additional forms related to their specific fields such as real estate or investments. If a client has a high net worth or complex financial situation, more work may be involved than just filing their income tax return.
Ways To Streamline Tax Preparation Processes
Streamlining your tax preparation process ensures you’re working at peak efficiency. The taxation processes are clogged with potential inefficiencies. However, you can increase efficiency and reduce errors with the following steps:
Choose The Right Tax Preparation Software
There are over 100 tax preparation software packages in the market, and new ones come out every year. Choosing the best one for your company determines which features you need and which features you can do without.
For example, if your firm specializes in small business returns but you don’t offer payroll services, it doesn’t make sense to pay for software that includes payroll functions. Likewise, if your current payroll provider offers an integrated payroll package with their tax filing software, it might be more efficient to purchase the entire suite instead of integrating two separate programs.
The best software for tax preparers should include online access. This allows clients to review their returns and make payments online. It also makes it possible for them to upload documents directly into the system. Another feature is the e-filing option where clients can file forms electronically at no additional charge.
Create A Comfortable Workspace
As a tax preparer, your workspace should be designed to help you perform your best during a hectic year. You likely have a lot of screen time while working on clients’ tax returns, so it’s essential to ensure your workstation is ergonomic. Your seating position should be comfortable and encourage good posture. The lighting at your desk should be bright enough for you to see well without causing eye strain or glare on the monitor.
It’d help if you also created a distraction-free workspace. Do this by keeping work areas clear of clutter and personal items such as photos, magnets, calendars, or decorations that could be distracting when preparing returns.
Offer Your Clients Convenient Appointment Scheduling
Gone are the days when phone calls were necessary to schedule an appointment with your tax preparer. Now, clients can book their appointments online using a third-party scheduling website or software.
These platforms allow clients to pick from available time slots at their leisure. Still, they also send reminders before the scheduled session, make rescheduling easy in case of emergencies and organize appointments by client type.
In addition to providing convenience for your clients, this kind of software can benefit your business. Besides, it reduces friction when meeting new clients because they don’t have to wait on hold while scheduling an appointment.
Plan Your Work Schedule In Advance
Tax planning involves more than preparing the tax return itself. It also includes scheduling the work, which can be a task. Planning your work schedule will help you meet client deadlines and avoid primary time crunching at the end of the tax season.
As a tax preparer, your busiest time of year will likely be January through April 15th (or March 15th for partnership and corporation returns). With that in mind, plan your schedule around the periods you’ll be most busy.
An easy way to organize this is by creating a simple spreadsheet for yourself. It should include client data, name, address, phone number, and due date information for each return you prepare or review. This will help ensure nothing gets lost or forgotten during the busy season.
Maintain A Dedicated Mobile Device For Your Tax Business
To streamline your tax preparation process, you need a dedicated mobile device. Many programs are available to help you manage your tax business remotely. Many of them can only be accessed via smartphone or tablet.
You could use the same device for personal use, but that’s a bad idea. As a tax professional, you should keep all of your client information in an encrypted, password-protected space that can be found and accessed by only one person: you. It’ll stay safe from potential hackers who might want to steal that info to file fraudulent returns.
Follow Best Practices For Ensuring Security Of Data
You should always ensure that sensitive data is secure, but it’s essential during the busy tax season. It can be hard to find time to maintain your security defenses, so establish these best practices:
- Back up your data
- Use a password manager
- Enable two-factor authentication everywhere you can
- Use a separate computer for online banking
- Run a firewall on all of your devices
- Update your operating system, browser, and apps regularly, especially if they’re set to auto-update
- Install antivirus software and keep it updated
- Use a secure network connection whenever possible
- Connect via VPN when working outside of the office
Tax preparation is a necessary part of running your business, but it doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence. If you follow the tips and tricks outlined above, you’ll soon find that tax season becomes less stressful and more efficient.