Taking New Clients During Tax Season


I keep seeing posts on Twitter and LinkedIn from tax professionals getting frustrated at business owners and individuals alike who are late to the game and trying to find a new CPA right now. So many people are saying “hard pass” and “no thank you” and “they are procrastinators!” Well, yes, they are procrastinators, but so are we! We tax accountants tend to have terrible deadlines in part because we are a bunch of procrastinators. So, I am going to play the devil’s advocate and say that maybe we should consider taking the procrastinators on and helping them with their taxes.

I have been thinking about how to not lose out on that growth, and here are some ideas that might help:

1. Save email templates for Outlook and Gmail

Do you have a standard email you write back to prospects? If not, create one. And create a different one for busy season. The busy season one should say something like:

Nice to meet you XXX,

Thank you for your email! As you can imagine, this is our busiest time of year. I have committed to taking care of my existing clients and ensuring a successful filing season for them. However, we are always willing to work with new individuals and businesses alike. At this point, we will be extending all new client returns. We will charge a $200 extension filing fee and $50/state needed.

Please send over your prior three years of tax returns and fill out our organizer here (hyperlink to a form – will discuss in #2). After reviewing your returns, I would love to take 15 minutes to get to know you. Please click on this calendar link OR contact my assistant to schedule. After the deadlines, we will schedule an hour meeting to dig into some tax planning ideas and how we can work together best moving forward.

Thank you and looking forward to getting to know you!


2. Collect information through a form

I could write a whole article about creating forms for document collection. However, there are some easy form writers that you could use. We have been using Liscio as a client portal and have created Adobesign PDFs inside that we can trigger for organizer information collections. Whatever form you decide to use, make sure that it is secure and ready to handle private information. Encrypted forms with encrypted storage is what you truly need at a bare minimum.

These forms should be standard organizers that clients can fill out for you. Have the information dump into your portal or secure document storage on the backend. This will save your admin headaches of scanning paper forms into a system for you! It also gives your admin a way to onboard new clients without your input – have a standard procedure and few clicks of a process to get client information.

3. Use a calendar link for scheduling

If you use a calendar link to schedule with a client, you can create one that only allows for a 15-minute booking. I know we can each spare 15 minutes to make a minimum of $200 (or whatever you set your extension prices at). Prospects that come during busy season know that they are late to the game and likely have already been turned away by other tax preparation firms. They need some reassurance that you are a real human and care about their account. However, they are also understanding of limited time and just thankful for a quick intro call.

4. Use an agenda template

I have been using this amazing collaborative agenda program – Mindup. If you are not ready to adopt a new tool, just save the agenda that you use for prospecting and be prepared to stick to it.

Here is my basic 15-minute intro call:

  • Who are you? – 2.5 mins
  • What does our firm stand for? – 2.5 mins
  • What concerns you about tax prep? – 4 mins
  • How I think we can work together – 4 mins
  • Next step and action items – 2 mins

5. Have a contractor or outsourcing team lined up for overflow

There are plenty of options for overall prep work. I always have an extra EA on contract to pick up some prep work during the summer. And you can even use some of the outsourcing options for the compliance side. You should save your brainpower for the advisory and tax planning items.

Considering it is the middle of busy season, I am not going to launch into a whole onboarding automation workflow. I do believe there are a lot more pieces that can be automated here, but these are the easy lifts to implement now to not miss out on new work. I bet your admin can even do 90% of the above items for you! So, yes, procrastinators tend to be a bit harder in general, but they still need good tax advisors. Let’s create systems for them so it is not so burdensome to you to work with them. Plus you can always charge a premium!

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Liz Mason is a serial entrepreneur, a giant nerd, and an involved accounting vanguard. She is the Founder of High Rock Accounting, Rebel Rock Accounting, TheDepartment.Tax, and a few other related brands. Liz speaks on a national stage, guests stars on podcasts, and writes frequently. To further her passion for the advancement of the accounting profession, Liz currently serves as a Xero National Ambassador and as the Content Strategist for Tax Practice News. Liz started her career in tax at Grant Thornton (at 20) and automated a portion of her job landing her in the national tax practice. She spent a decade in large public accounting firms working on highly technical tax consulting before branching off on her own. Liz utilizes her creativity and passion at her company to uproot traditional practices and replace them with innovative concepts. She finds joy in efficient technology and her core belief is that everyone and everything can continuously improve (she says "be better" too often). When Liz isn't planning world domination in accounting, she is a die-hard skier, down for any adventure, plays the ukulele, reads everything, and has a good sense of humor. If you're looking for her, you can find her traveling the world and enjoying new food and cultures with her young son. Follow Liz and High Rock Accounting on Twitter at @LizzyNorMa and @HighRockCPAs.