Surviving Tax Season

For a CPA, tax season is definitely the busiest time of the year. How do they stay cool despite everything? Tips and tricks.

Are you drinking lots of herbal tea? Taking a mid-day nap? These are certainly some of the tools used by accountants to preserve their sanity during tax time. But the real key to success is obviously to be well organized and well prepared. The season begins well ahead of the new year.

“We don’t see any tax season as such,” says Patrick Descôteaux, co-president of Propulsion Stratégik. “Having it in mind is the first step to avoid overload in spring. During the year we support our clients in the preparation of their tax returns. We keep abreast of the economic updates in fall, and as soon as the federal and provincial budgets are unveiled at the beginning of the year we refine our accounting tools in anticipation of taxes, then we get into the spiral.” And it never really stops, says Luce Morin, president of Activ Accounting Services. “The stragglers keep us busy all year long!”

Time is the critical factor

To avoid receiving scattered documents and confusing information from the client, it is essential to help them get organized by providing them with a clear procedure. “Meetings with the client are really time consuming,” explains Patrick Descôteaux.Having a prepared client in front of you saves a great deal of time.”

“Ideally, I don’t meet everyone,” adds Luce Morin. Exchanging documents by email saves valuable minutes. This approach should be avoided with new clients, but it is quite appropriate with the regulars.

Then each return needs to be completed in as little time as possible. At Propulsion Stratégik, in-house software analyzes each T4 statement and runs various calculations on it in record time. At Activ, the rule is “to have an empty box every Sunday evening to be able to start anew with new files every Monday morning”.

Asking for help as needed

A good accounting office always has a few subcontractors who can be contacted at the last minute in case of overload. “We make less profit on these files sent urgently to independents, but it means they never start running late,” explains Patrick Descôteaux. “It’s essential to be sure to have an ultra-reliable team. Small things can break the cycle and derail operations,” Luce Morin adds.

And how do you keep smiling? “I never skip meal times,” says Luce Morin. “And I keep on doing one hour of physical exercise per day. It’s essential for productivity.”

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