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Busy season cheat sheet: 8 considerations to make it easier

Busy season finish lineTime is always a precious commodity during tax season, but especially so this year. On top of starting to prepare 2017 tax year returns, CPAs are working to figure out exactly how the tax reform law affects clients.

Before you start pulling your hair out, take a deep breath and remember the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “This too shall pass.” Then, check out the AICPA resources that not only make preparation a bit more convenient, but will also help you impress your clients by answering their questions before they even ask them.

  1. Getting lots of questions from clients about tax reform? Download presentations on the impact on individuals or businesses from the Tax Reform Resource Center, and register for webcasts (starting Jan. 30) that will explore effects of tax reform on pass-throughs and other types of businesses. Additionally, 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy provides a brief overview of updates to the tax law, including tax brackets and individual deductions.
  2. While tax reform is the top-of-mind concern, use the Tax Law Snapshot to remind clients of items like the ACA individual mandate that are in effect for the 2017 tax year return. This snapshot (one of the updated resources added to the Tax Practitioner’s Marketing Toolkit) also touches on upcoming changes and suggests ways to plan for them.
  3. If you dread telling a client they need to file an extension, help the medicine go down with these FAQs from the Tax Practitioner’s Marketing Toolkit. The FAQs explain clearly what an extension really means and why it can be a good thing. (Note: AICPA log-in required for most resources.)
  4. Keeping up with identity theft threats and the best ways to combat them is challenging but critical. While the number of individuals reporting tax ID theft has dropped considerably, the number of business returns affected by thieves has risen, and tax professionals remain at risk. Use the Tax ID Theft Information and Tools page to find articles and webcasts on trends and best practices. If you have a client who suffered ID theft, offer them the ID Theft Checklist: Action Steps to Recovery to help them recover.
  5. You want to be 100% sure that your checklists and organizers are as thorough as they can possibly be. If you join the Tax Section, these trusted resources from the Annual Tax Compliance Kit are yours for free, in addition to practice guides and engagement letters.
  6. Here is one more cheat sheet to save you and your staff time looking things up. This quick guide from the Journal of Accountancy lists retirement plan limits, tax brackets, mileage rates and a slew of other numbers you’ll need handy.
  7. Last but not least, find all these great resources and others at the AICPA’s Tax Season Resources for CPAs.
  8. Need a cheat sheet of return due dates and updates on which states have conformed with the federal changes? The AICPA due dates page has tools such as the State Tax Return Due Dates for Partnerships Summary Chart and the C Corporation Due Dates Quick Reference Chart.

Tax season is here, so be sure to keep these resources close at hand. Best of luck!

Minh Graham, Manager – Tax Practice & Ethics, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Busy season finish line courtesy of Shutterstock

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