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Get your groove back: 4 tips to ramp up for fall busy season

GettyImages-705001221Is there any season more relaxing than summer? The weather is warm. The days are long. Perhaps best of all, busy season is still a ways off. There’s no cause to worry about extensions or business returns or even tax reform, right?

Nope. Believe it or not, summer is winding down and the fall busy season is ramping up. Now is the time to shake off that beach brain and prepare for what’s ahead. You’ll thank yourself in October, not to mention in February and March. 

Get caught up on continuing education

Summer is a prime time to tackle your CPE requirements as it’s the sweet spot between the two busiest times of the year for tax practitioners. But there’s a second reason why now may be a good time to hit the books: tax reform.

Recently, heaps of IRS guidance and proposed regulations came out on key tax reform issues, such as the Sec. 199A qualified business income (QBI) deduction. And this affects your clients right now. Staying on top of these changes means your clients — particularly small business owners — will get the high-quality tax planning services they need to stay ahead.

Learn more about the Sec. 199A deduction with this overview webcast. Then take a deeper dive into case studies to gain a better understanding of how the deduction actually works. Once you’ve mastered QBI, find out about other tax reform issues with this webcast to help you target planning opportunities stemming from the legislative changes. These webcasts offer invaluable information and two CPE credit hours each.

For a broader look at tax issues and updates, register for the AICPA National Tax Conference Nov. 12-13 in Washington D.C. and also online. Earn up to 18 CPE credits while learning how to navigate the changing tax landscape.

The stream of guidance is unlikely to stop anytime soon. The AICPA will be creating new webcasts and resources to accommodate it, so be sure to be on the lookout for more CPE opportunities.

Communicate with clients on due dates and tax planning

 

Reach out to clients —especially those with partnership or other business returns due Sept. 17 — to remind them of upcoming deadlines. Now is also an excellent time for your clients to schedule a fall visit to learn what they can do to minimize their tax liability.

Consider sending a letter to communicate proactively with your clients about tax reform changes and the planning opportunities that may result. Tax, PFP and PCPS Section members and PFS credential holders can use the tax reform planning letters found on the Tax Reform Resource Center. While you’re there, check out other useful tax reform resources like FAQs and podcasts.

Review best practices, return processes and client roster with staff  

 

Suggesting that you read Statements on Standards for Tax Services at the beach is pushing it, so perhaps do this once you get back to the office. While you’re at it, schedule a pizza lunch with your staff to go over these standards and review any issues that came up in the spring. This conversation can serve as a springboard for another important discussion: are there clients who are not a good fit for the firm? If you determine you need to let a client go, alert them now so they have time to find someone else.

Either at this session or another, you can also go over the firm’s preparation process and brainstorm any workflow changes that can make procedures even more efficient.

Tackle technology, staffing and office upgrades

Is there a printer or scanner giving everyone fits? What about the workflow or preparation software you’re using? Deciding on new technology or software can be time intensive. But don’t put it off. Acting now gives your team more time to adjust to the change.  

Based on your review of how last season went, consider what administrative or tax preparation help you need, too. Competition for tax associates will increase as the year closes and hiring people over the holidays is tough, not to mention a hassle. 

Finally, take a hard look at the office decor, particularly in the client waiting area and other public spaces. Getting these in shape now will enable you to avoid juggling renovations and clients at the same time.

Summer is still with us until Sept. 22. While a busy fall is just head, be sure to take some time out to enjoy a few slices of watermelon. Because before you know it, we’ll all be eyeballs deep in pumpkin spice everything.

Allison Carter Fanney, Communications Manager — Tax, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

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