Tax preparers certainly do have a captive audience, particularly when the tax deadline of April 15 is approaching. According to accountingweb.com, 44% of all working Americans are going to file their taxes through an accountant this year. This number increases as the income increases (Source: http://www.accountingweb.com/article/tax-season-may-be-opportune-time-market-tax-preparation-services/221373). Most accounting services do what is necessary to keep their business operating smoothly. Unfortunately, there are issues that can arise when the client does not cooperate as they should.
Most of the issues that occur with tax season take place because the client is either disorganized with their information or they do not submitted in a timely fashion. This can make for big problems within the accounting firm and can slow things down for everyone involved. That is why it is important to educate the clients and help them prepare effectively for tax season. Here are some tips which can help to make those factors a reality.
Educate Your Client - Most clients feel as if it is the job of the tax preparer to organize the information. The fact is that the organization process causes unnecessary delays and frustration. When the client is provided with the necessary information and tools to organize their data, it becomes easier for everyone involved. This may come in the form of a checklist which makes it easy for the client to follow through on the organization process. It may be beneficial to include the tax return from the former year along with the checklist to give them more of an idea of what is needed.
Established Deadlines - Setting firm deadlines for when data will be accepted from the client is an excellent way to keep them moving forward. Establish a system for providing reminders, such as through text messages or email. This will help to emphasize the importance of providing information in a timely fashion. It will also help to reduce the need for late filing.
Give an Estimate - One of the difficulties that many tax preparers face is confrontation due to misunderstandings over the bill. When an estimate of the tax preparation cost is given in advance of the work being completed, it is less likely that confrontation will be an issue.
Last-Minute Submissions - In any tax preparation business, there are going to be circumstances which would cause information to be given at the last minute. Although it is always best to get information in writing, last-minute filing may make it necessary to get it over the telephone. It is best to follow-up on any verbal instructions in writing to reduce the possibility of disputes over miscommunication.
Weed Your Clients - Most tax preparers have clients that are problems in one way or another. They may be late paying their bill or they may not pay all of it, preferring to dispute the cost each and every year. After taking a close look at the amount of time spent catering to problem clients, it may become clear that they are costing more than what they are worth. By reducing the workload and removing these difficult clients, it is possible to focus on the better clients.