Tax season may seem like it’s a long way off, but really, it’s right around the corner of every New Year. As with any large undertaking, from starting a new business, to the launch of a new brand of products onto the market, tax season preparation means starting early and making sure you have everything in order. This is key before you just start wading through the various forms and documents associated with doing tax work. Before your desk is full of W2’s and other tax documents, take some time while you have it over the holidays, and during the first couple weeks of the New Year, to prepare everything you’ll need for the upcoming tax season. This article will share a list of five things that you can do in order to prepare yourself better for the next season of taxes.
Fulfilling CPE Credit Requirements
CPE stands for Continuing Professional Education. It’s a system that’s put in place in order to ensure that public tax accountants (among many other kinds of professionals) stay up-to-date with the latest practices and laws. Every three-year reporting period, CPA professionals must complete 120 hours of continuing professional education. You can fulfill this requirement by attending colleges or universities, specialized programs, and certain online correspondence courses. Obviously, putting this requirement off is a really bad idea, or you’ll spend about a solid month trying to cram all of it in before the reporting period. Working ahead on your hours is a really good idea, and the holidays are a recommended time to do that.
Get Needed Rest
The holidays should be a time to relax. Obviously, there are a lot of reasons why that might not be the case, from pressures related to work, to the inevitable stress of spending a lot of time with relatives and family, but remember that holidays are a vacation. Take some time for yourself to do something that isn’t related to work. Also, grab the opportunity to rest up after the end of the year and before the big push toward tax season starts, because once tax season begins, you’ll be pretty busy from start to finish. Tax season can also put a pretty big stress on families if you’re not able to see them, so make sure to spend some time with them over the holidays.
Doing Tax Planning Meetings with Clients
Planning out the work you’ll have to do ahead of time is another key element of preparing for tax season. For a lot of clients, that doesn’t actually mean very much work, when they are return customers whose financial situations haven’t changed a whole lot in the last year. However, you probably also have a few customers whose affairs a lot more complicated, or who have drastically changed in their finances. Preliminary meetings with your clients let you go over the numbers you’ll be working with later in the year, and they’ll also let you check up on how your clients are doing so that you’re not surprised by a sudden or drastic change in the numbers. This will also give you an opportunity to let your clients know what to expect from the tax season. If there’s anything you need them to do, like gather more forms or information, then you’ll be able to tell them to at the meeting rather than in the middle of doing their taxes.
Purging Old Files
When you’re keeping meticulous records about stuff, there’s this temptation to keep literally everything. However, the SEC and FINRA have pretty strict regulations about how long documents can be kept on file before they expire or become defunct. Around this time of the year, it might be a good idea to do some office organization. Sort through the various documents you have on file to see if any of them can be deleted, thus freeing up space. Sometimes it’s a good idea to keep an old file around to remind you that you need to update it, but most of the time, an expired file is just dead weight.
Upgrade your software
There’s also a temptation to continue using a program because you’re used to it. However, upgrading your software and making sure you know how to use it can make the upcoming tax season a whole lot simpler. Using a tax document management system like eFileCabinet can make tax season a whole lot easier. eFileCabinet is a great source for accountants. Be sure to fill out the form for a free demo of our software!