There will always be adjustments that need to be made during tax season even though we think we are fully prepared. As we look back upon each tax season, we come across different information that we need to gather from our clients and processes that just didn’t work. As for the information we need to gather, this varies depending on new tax laws or even different state requirements. We have a customized client organizer that we create and use for all existing and new clients that will provide us the necessary information for that particular tax year.
A few of adjustments we made during this past tax season included:
- Adding dependents to our client organizer to collect names, social security numbers, dates of birth and if they are in college.
- Coming up with a process for those clients that preferred to sign the organizer in the office rather than electronically (this was about 15% of our tax client base). For those clients, we provided a paper copy of the organizer and had them bring it in when they dropped off their documents or when they picked up their completed return.
- Our client organizer was created more for the married taxpayers. We decided that we needed to separate married and single organizers so that we were able to require spouse information. In the original organizer, that was optional and was frequently overlooked.
Our customized client organizer has been extremely effective and has increased our productivity through the tax preparation process. Historically and with traditional firms, it is standard practice to send out the 30-page-long organizer that comes from the tax software which asks everything from your client’s hair color to the name of their dog. We did not want to put our clients through that painful process. We found great success with the questions we asked and the information that we gathered.
Our favorite question that we ask our clients right off the bat is – will you have your tax documents to us by 03/15 or do you plan on going on extension? This really helped us prioritize our returns and have open communication with those clients that tend to be last minute or go on extension every year.
We recommend documenting your challenges, changes, and additions to your processes and procedures on a regular basis. If you aren’t changing and improving, you are going backwards. Take the remainder of 2019 to tighten up your process for next year. It will be worth the investment!
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.