January 31 every year marks the deadline for filing Self-Assessment tax returns. Naturally, accountancy practices across the country are gearing up for the last leg of the busy period. While working overtime to meet the nightmarish deadline is an inevitable part of the tax season, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Accountants need to work better with their clients in the run-up to the tax season deadline. In this article, I discuss eight strategies that can help you boost your practice staff’s productivity and ease their workload. So if you haven’t addressed these points for this year, keep a note to get things sorted early for this tax year.
1. Get organised
Taking some time out at the start to sort out your workflows will really help to avoid delays later. Review your best practices and make any adjustments you think you’ll need before the client rush begins.
There’s never a better time to assess your staff capacity and determine whether you’ll need to hire anyone on a part-time or contract basis to manage the workload. You should also ensure that all your tax guidance checklists and documents are in place and up-to-date so that your practice staff has an easier time accessing them.
2. Set up a document portal
If you haven’t gone paperless yet, you should. Keeping your documents digital helps streamline communication within your practice, and promotes easy collaboration with your clients. Trust me – you don’t want to be chasing them at the last hour.
You can start by setting up an online document portal where clients can upload their documents instead of mailing you hard copies. Be sure to collate each client’s records in separate folders to keep them organised.
A lot of accounting outsourcing firms – such as Stellaripe – store documentation on the Cloud. Get in touch with us to know more.
3. Get a grip on technology
Update your software licences well in advance of the tax season and ensure that you have enough for the entire practice staff. You could also consider bringing in an IT professional to look over your systems and ensure that they are free of bugs and glitches. Using cloud practice management and tax production applications gives your practice staff the flexibility to work remotely and also boosts everyone’s productivity. Make technology work for you this tax season. If you feel that your tech isn’t ready to take on the demands of the January 31 deadline, you could consider outsourcing your clients’ tax returns to an efficient accounting outsourcing service provider that’s always on board with the latest technology to ensure effective, on-time delivery.
4. Set the schedules
While tax season is undoubtedly hectic and everyone will be working overtime, it’s important to remember that your practice staff members have a personal life as well. Factor this into your guidelines for office operations during tax season so that everyone can have some flexibility and enjoy the much-needed work-life balance.
For example, you could set up a rota so that everyone works from home one day a week, or give each employee personal time off on the schedule. Using cloud software and integrations helps make remote working easier, thereby increasing their productivity by letting them work from the comfort of their homes.
5. Track progress constantly
Have a robust system in place to know where you are with each client. Keep an eye on completed tasks, send reminders to any clients who have delayed in submitting information or documents and push your practice staff to prepare taxes faster in case the pace has slowed down in the process.
Accountants often spend the final week working “non-stop” because they have to chase clients that couldn’t provide the complete records on time. That’s a nightmare, but an efficient way of managing your submissions is by dividing them into smaller chunks and completing one at a time.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Tax season can be challenging to handle smoothly, especially with all the other accounting projects on your plate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your tax projects, remember that you can always outsource them to teams like Stellaripe.
That way, some of the workload gets lifted from your practice staff’s shoulders, and you are guaranteed timely, accurate results from experienced outsourced accountants. Contact us to know more about our services.
7. Get quick approval
Your job doesn’t end after sending tax returns to clients’ for approval. Be sure to follow up with them proactively for a quick approval. That way, you have enough time to submit accurate returns ahead of the deadline, in case you are required to do that. You can speed up the process by explaining the tax returns to your clients over Skype or Zoom.
8. Schedule tax strategy meeting
You already know your clients’ sources of income and taxes. This gives you enough information to plan their tax returns for the year. Invite your clients to a strategy meeting to plan their taxes, either in person or through Zoom or Skype.
It’s important to remember that you need to propose investment options before this current tax year ends, and your client must make their investments before April 5. Be sure to make time for proactive advice during the meeting on how your clients can benefit as much as possible from current tax laws.
Over to you
January is always a challenging time for accountants in the UK. But you can make it a success by planning your tax season properly. Fortunately, Stellaripe can help you reduce the season workload without compromising quality.
Take a step forward towards increasing the efficiency of your accountancy practice with our help. Call us on +44 20 3475 3537 or email us at email@example.com to learn more about our accounting outsourcing services.