As an accountant, you may worry about how you’ll handle the Self Assessment tax return season. With the January deadline (now extended to February for 2022) fast approaching, this can be the busiest time of year for self-employed accountants.
But if you approach this time of year with a good strategy, it’ll be exponentially easier to get through.
This guide will offer tips for surviving tax return season as an accountant, including:
- Prepare ahead of time
- Organise your workload
- Stay calm
- Make yourself reachable
- Take breaks
- Use the right tools
See also: How to deal with challenges in the accounting profession
Prepare ahead of time
The best way to survive tax season is to prepare year-round. If you create a game-time plan for your busy period, it’ll be easier to handle it when it comes. For example, you might give yourself and clients deadlines to send you essential financial data.
To ensure you get the essential information on time, check-in with clients a few months before tax season and remind them of the process. You may also ask clients to send their financial data every three months. This way, you won’t have to wait on the entire year’s data at once.
When onboarding clients, be clear about what you offer and the expectations of the relationship. Strong communication will help you work well together. As the busy season approaches, look over essential client information to help you file taxes properly.
The more you understand your clients, the easier it will be to satisfy them. Plus, building strong relationships will help you know which to check in with more frequently to ensure they meet deadlines.
Organise your workload
As your client work piles up for tax return season, it may seem impossible to finish it all. But if you organise your workload and structure your time well, it’ll be much easier to survive.
Start by listing everything you need to get done. Break each task into subtasks and reorganise the information by priority.
Then, look at your calendar. For example, if you need to complete Self Assessments for 20 clients and 10 days. You might focus on two clients each day or prioritise contacting those you need more information from.
Also, improve your time skills by using a project management tool, such as Trello or monday. You can input your projects, create checklists, and track your progress with these tools. A platform like this prevents you from forgetting essential tasks and helps organise your time.
As your stress levels increase during tax return season, it may feel challenging to stay calm. But making an effort to do so will help you manage your clients and reassure them to trust you with their financial data and tax returns.
When interacting with clients, you’re the expert on taxes. So, showing that you can handle the busy season and stay calm will help them feel confident.
Plus, if a client is stressed or giving you a hard time, staying collected will simplify the process and make it easier to deal with their needs. Listening to clients and being clear about your progress will help you manage their expectations.
See also: Helping your clients work smarter: the five best ways to manage expenses
Make yourself reachable
Making yourself reachable to client’s is just as crucial as keeping calm. If you want to survive the season, you’ll need to communicate with the people you work with. Pick up the phone when they call and check your email regularly.
Being accessible will smooth out the stressful process and help you solve problems more quickly. Plus, your clients will appreciate your services more and, hopefully, return the availability when you need to contact them.
Taking on too much stress during this season can lead to lower productivity and even adverse health effects. So, you may start by letting friends and family know that you won’t have as much free time for the hectic period. Being honest will help lower your pressure to show up for your social life.
But, instead of committing long working hours to get the tax returns done, be sure to take breaks when you need to. Even though this may be the busiest time of year, you still need to consider your work-life balance. Plus, taking breaks will let you rest and recharge.
If you overwork yourself to get everything done and refuse to take a breath, this could lead to lower quality services. For example, you could overlook essential information or make mistakes that could reduce the accuracy of your work.
So, be sure to block out time to get some fresh air, exercise, or do something outside unrelated to your accounting firm. Also, make sure you get sufficient sleep to focus on your work.
Use the right tools
As an accountant, streamlining and simplifying your processes will also help you survive tax return season. You may want to reorganise your services. So consider how to make your current processes more agile to handle an increasing workload.
First, consider how you can improve essential digital skills to strengthen your accounting services. You’ll better manage your clients with these skills.
Plus, you may want to take business obligations off your shoulders to handle your clients better. For example, you could outsource your marketing and advertising, so you don’t have to waste time on it.
To simplify your work and save time, digitise your records and use tools that automate the process. Also, promote accounting tools for your clients to use. If they have their financial records in order, it’ll be much easier for you to do your job.
See also: How accountants can use predictive analysis
Simplify your process with Countingup
You can save your practice time on manual admin and help your clients keep organised records with Countingup’s free accounting software. It’s built specifically to help you manage your self-employed and sole trader clients.
The app automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for your clients so they can focus on running their business—and send you accurate, structured data to work from.
Countingup’s accounting software is MTD-compatible and full of features for you to efficiently review and manage client accounts with direct access to their real-time organised data. Find out more here.