How to Reduce Tax Season Stress

March 9, 2022

How to Reduce Tax Season Stress

Tax season. It happens every year. Everyone knows it’s coming – and yet, every year, it’s a frantic flurry of panic and last minute requests from your customers. 

You know that it’s going to be the same every year. People who haven’t kept up with their bookkeeping arrive with a shoe box full of receipts. Clients ask you to help with their taxes, and then leave it to the very last possible moment to reply. You find yourself explaining the same tax rules over, and over and over again – and then a few more times, just for good measure. 

While you can’t always make your clients stay on top of things, or avoid the last minute rush, there are some things you can do to get prepared and reduce your stress this tax season. Here’s how. 

Ban Distractions

Tax season is not the time to get distracted. So, get an answering machine for your phone, commit to only checking emails once or twice a day, and make sure your door is closed and has a “Do Not Disturb” sign on it! 

You can also try the Pomodoro technique to split your day in 25-minute blocks to be completely undistracted and then have 5-minute and longer breaks to cut through the noise and slack.

Invest in Automation

If you’re not already automating some of the more time consuming tasks in your accounting business, now is the time to start. Technology, software and extensions like the LiveFlow Google Sheets Add-on can automate the manual, tedious tasks that eat away your day. That leaves more time to make sense of your client’s tax situation. 

There are accounting professionals like Marissa from Bookkeep who nailed it for the entire company. Read why she thinks that automation trumps all manual work: ‘If you’re having a hard time with something, it’s probably because it’s not automated.’

Hire Extra Staff

Whether it’s an accounting student from a local university or a freelancer from a site like Upwork (a platform to find talent in pretty much everything including accounting and bookkeeping), adding a few more hands to take care of the time consuming things related to tax season is a great idea. Even a high school student to do the filing while you’re wrestling with receipts can take some of the pressure off! 

It’ll allow you to get taxes done for more clients without a proportionate increase in costs, which means tax season will be more profitable for you. 

Educate Your Customers

Most people neither understand tax season nor want to. That’s why they hire accountants like you. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t educate them about how you need to get information from them. Create a checklist for your clients so that they know exactly what you need to know, and how you need to get it from them. 

Get On the Cloud

The internet has changed the way we do everything. Whether it’s where you store documents and how you share them to how you meet with clients, it’s all happening in the cloud! If you’re not already using the internet for communication, collaboration and storage, it’s time to start. You can use free tools like Google Sheets (yes, not Excel and here is why), Slack and Zoom to share information, talk to customers without having to drive to their offices and more! The time you save by using the cloud gives you more time for taxes!

To boost your tech stack, check ‘6 No-Code, Low-Code Tools for Accountants’, which recommends 6 easy to set up automation tools, we think every accountant should have.

Tackle the Big Challenges First

Most tax returns are not a concern to qualified and experienced accountants. But we all have at least one client that is always a challenge. Make a list of the clients whose returns you know will be a problem and prioritize them. This Accounts Receivable template will help you to do it in no time! Start asking for information earlier, assign more people to their account, and use all the tools in your toolbox to get their returns done as smoothly and quickly as possible. 

Here is an example of a live A/R dashboard that will be refreshed in real time with LiveFlow:

Create a Tax Season Culture

Everyone gets stressed when they’re putting in long hours during tax season. They’ll be a lot less stressed if you thank them for their hard work with a pizza dinner or promise extra time off when things calm down again. When everyone is working towards a common goal, even if you’re stressed out, you can still have a happy, cohesive team. 

Remember, This Too Shall Pass

Finally, remember to take a deep breath every once in a while, and remember that you’ve survived tax season before. It happens every year, and every year is just as frantic. You always think you’ll never see the end of it, and yet, you always do. Then, when the dust settles, reward yourself for a job well done. 

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