Getting ready for tax season
Getting ready for tax season

Renee Daggett’s top tips to get ready for tax season

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It’s been a tough two years! I’m sure all of us are tired, but now is the time to take a few days to disconnect so that you can be fresh for the upcoming season. I live in California, so my favorite place to go is Monterey, listen to the waves, and put my feet in the sand.

Now that you are mentally prepared for the upcoming season, let me share some details of what I do to prepare.

The first thing we do is to make sure we update our organization chart and plug in each person’s name for the role we need them to fulfill. Then, we focus on what was missing. I am sure I am not alone when I say that hiring has been difficult. I have tried every job board out there, but a secret … just between us … is that LinkedIn has worked best for me!

Here are some best practices I am looking at for the upcoming season:

  • Make sure we have a process to get accurate advance child tax credit payments.
  • Instead of long, wordy emails, text clients more often.
  • Make time to be in a tax community. My favorite Facebook group is Jackie Meyer’s Accounting Firm Influencers. My favorite group is the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants 
  • No more in office appointments. All meetings are done online, with a webcam.
  • All Form 8879s are signed electronically through eSignature.
  • Clients upload directly to their client portal, so that my team can collaborate and share documents.
  • Consider using the paid service called ESQ for IRS communication, instead of having long wait times on the phone.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate with clients.

Onboard clients more efficiently

For new clients, you have the opportunity to set the bar for a new accounting standard. Don’t let clients dictate the process, but let them know what to expect in your process. We even go so far as to tell them that we use a bunch of technology. If that is uncomfortable for them, we would rather them tell us no thank you now than frustrate them later.

Also, for new clients, they don’t start working with us until we get a copy of their last filed tax return, and we give them an estimate of our fees for the upcoming tax season. No surprises!

We also require new clients to fill out a questionnaire. This allows us to find out their top concerns, what they expect for an accountant, gross income, and what software they use to track their business income and expenses. If they use anything other than QuickBooks® Online, we let them know we are not a good fit for them and refer them to another accountant. The way the numbers from QuickBooks Online flow into Intuit® Lacerte® Tax is also key to our productivity.

In the tax process, we have milestones where we send out emails to clients, letting them know the process of their tax return. We do this by creating an email with the details of what we want to communicate, and then save them in email signatures. This way, our admin only needs to make a few clicks to communicate to a client.

The pre-payment of the child tax credit has the potential to be a nightmare, so we created a blog where we explain the importance of tracking the pre-payments. We give them the link to the IRS portal, where they can gain access to confirm the dates and amounts. We also created a video that explains this in plain English, not accountant-ese!

Strengthen your advisory services

At my firm, it is my heart’s desire to make a difference in the lives of my clients. When reconciling a bank statement or preparing a tax return, the impact we make is small. But, if we could help our business clients get clarity on their financials and reduce their tax liability by implementing strategies, there lies the impact in changing someone’s financial outlook. Compliance work is good, as long as you have a well-oiled process.

I’m speaking about advisory services! Charge a client what you are worth because you are getting them results! Leading firms that do never struggle with cash flow. How’s your cashflow?

The ripple effect

We all know what happens when we skip a rock on the water. It has a ripple effect.

My dad passed away at the end of July from a short battle with leukemia. I took a month off work to focus on myself and my family. Coming into this tax season, part of me just wanted to pull the covers over my head. If I did, people would understand due to the grief I am experiencing. But, I can’t do that. I needed to decide and find my passion again to not only serve our clients well, but also invest in the team around me. I had to make a choice.

You, too, need to make a choice. Will you fill your mind with negative thoughts because the last two years have beat you up? Or, will you choose to think positively?  Waves will ripple from you. I pray that the ripple effect will be waves of kindness, love, peace, and joy!

Have a terrific tax season!

Editor’s note: Join Renee Daggett when she presents “Getting Ready for Tax Season” at the Tax Season Readiness virtual conference, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2. Register today.

Renee Daggett, EA

Renee Daggett, EA, is CEO of AdminBooks. Renee is an Advanced QuickBooks® Online Consultant with Intuit and is a member of the Intuit® Trainer/Writer Network. She has corporate financial management experience dating back to 1995, and is passionate about equipping business owners with the tools they need to run their business simply and efficiently. Her firm earned Intuit’s prestigious worldwide award, “Top 15 Firm of the Future.” AdminBooks has transitioned 100% of their bookkeeping clients to QuickBooks Online and converted their tax clients to a paperless cloud system. Renee is also the author of “Your Financial Flight Plan: Pilot Your Business to Profitability.” In her book, she demonstrates in a creative way the reasons why every business owner needs to be a better manager of their business. Born and raised in California and happily married since 1990, she is the mother of two sons, lives her life with purpose and thrives on helping her clients do so as well. More from Renee Daggett, EA

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