5 Key Tax Workflow Tips for the 2019 Tax Season


As the start of the filing season approaches, put some time into identifying those pain points you experience in this tax season plan to make changes to your work flow efficiencies. In this article, I will walk you through 5 key tax practice workflows that you may be ready to adopt.  Join us for this information packed session!

Key Practice Workflow Tip #1:  Have a consistent workflow for new and existing clients onboarding can be a chore. At Powerful Accounting, our workflow looks like this:

  • Send Client Questionnaire, Engagement Letter, Payment Authorization, and Documentation Process through Right Signature or DocuSign – use templates for ease of use by your administrative staff
  • Admin notifies preparer that initial documentation has been received and is in SmartVault
  • Have your clients (even in office appointments) provide tax documents prior to meeting. This will save time and make the face to face more personal rather than them watching you face the computer while you pretend to listen!
  • Do not assume clients will not embrace your procedures – remember, you are the tax preparer and know your business better than they do!

Key Practice Workflow Tip #2:  Document Collection can be very cumbersome and time consuming. If you are a one person show, this wastes a lot of your time. If you have bodies, pick one and put them in charge of some administrative tasks. Consider the following tip to increase your productivity:

  • Utilize a part time or full time Executive Assistant/intern/staff accountant who can send a link to the client to upload to an online document storage solution such as SmartVault.
  • The Executive Assistant/intern/staff accountant verifies with client that they have sent or uploaded all relevant tax related documents.
  • IF POSSIBLE – staff accountant or intern goes through documents and compares them to the prior year to see if anything is missing.
  • Staff accountant pulls all property tax documents from town/city websites to ensure accuracy of payments.
  • Tax documents are uploaded and processed through Gruntworx, eliminating the need to hire another administrative person for organization purposes.

Key Practice Workflow Tip #3: The Tax Preparation Process can be streamlined in a way that you do not have to hand key documents such as W-2’s, 1099’s, trade transactions and more. This will allow you to focus more on the review of the return and data entry of the forms that will not auto populate from GruntWorx. Why would you consider streamlining those tasks?

  • Tax documents are uploaded and processed through Gruntworx, eliminating the need to hire another administrative person for organization purposes.
  • Organized documents are secured in the cloud-based document storage solution such as SmartVault, for future use if necessary.

Key Practice Workflow Tip #4: The tax return review process and client communications can also be time consuming. Once the return has been thoroughly reviewed and is ready for the client, the client will need to see the return, sign the 8879, and pay their bill to you! For this workflow, consider the following tips:

  • The tax preparer goes through the remaining documents and finalizes return.  Then the staff accountant or assistant calls the client to let them know the return is ready for them to review. 
  • The tax preparer prints the returns and supporting documents to SmartVault for the client to retrieve and approve.
  • The staff accountant or assistant sends 8879 E-File authorization through SmartVault Connected Desktop and utilizes KBA signatures through DocuSign.

Key Practice Workflow Tip #5: The last and possibly the most important tip is to be disciplined enough to document your pain points for next season improvements. There is nothing worse than having pain points during a stressful and chaotic time and doing nothing to improve them for the next season. Here are a few tips to get that done:

  • Establish one place where everyone in the firm can access and add to the list of pain points.
  • Listen around the office, if you hear people struggling with certain tasks or spending a lot of time on something that could be automated, stop and document it.
  • At the end of the season, take a retreat day and go through the pain points and decide the priority order. Invest time in the extension season to try new things.

In the end, tax season is here. You can continue doing what you are doing, and if you have a successful plan and strategy in place, that is great. But even great strategies can improve from time to time. Wishing you all a fantastic 2019 Tax Season!

Author Bio: Dawn W. Brolin is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and CEO of Powerful Accounting, LLC, a nationally recognized accounting, tax, forensic and fraud, IRS Representation as well as a QuickBooks consulting firm.  Dawn’s list of professional accomplishments is extensive and includes speaking and consulting for prestigious companies.  Named “Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting” 2012-2017 by CPA Practice Advisor, a “Top 10 Managing Partner Elite – Great Accounting Firm Leader” in 2017 by Accounting Today, and selected as a “Top 40 Under 40” by CPA Technology Magazine. 

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