What's in store for accounting firms during this year’s tax season?
Some experts believe that it will be as challenging and complex as last year, but perhaps for different reasons.
Your staff might already be tired and stressed out.
By now, many of your staff members might be struggling with “COVID fatigue” resulting from extended lockdowns and challenging work-from-home environments. And, after a year of virtual work some communication and engagement challenges will undoubtedly have arisen – particularly between junior and senior staff. In addition, the lack of in-person collaboration and camaraderie has, very likely, affected some employees’ motivation.
So, already-stressed-out or tired employees will soon be entering into a new tax season. No deadline extensions are anticipated for this year, so focus and productivity will be key.
Managing staff and ensuring efficient workflow will mean exercising emotional intelligence and heightened interpersonal skills – but technology solutions can also help you and your team stay on track.
Your clients will be looking to you for guidance as they grapple with the financial implications of the pandemic.
Your clients may have questions for you that would have never come into play without the pandemic. For instance, they may need you to identify the tax implications that are involved in them accepting government assistance, require you to help you them with the potential declaration of personal bankruptcy or figure out if they should be taking advantage of the flat $400 office expense deduction being offered by the CRA or having you deduct actual expenses paid based on slips they provide to you.
While this reality presents some great opportunities for increased advisory work, it also means that you and your staff will need to be prepared to provide emotional support to clients who have been hit hard. You and your staff will be called upon to develop and exhibit interpersonal skills that demonstrate empathy and concern. Client conversations are likely to be longer, so you need to ensure that compliance work is as efficient as possible to free up the time for these increased client service demands.
How will you meet these challenges – and others – that come your way?
- Cloud-based software can help you ensure that your staff are working efficiently and that workflow bottlenecks are quickly identified and resolved.
- Collaborative tools promote team building and can help foster good client communication.
- Online tax information sources that provide immediate access to the tax implications of government relief programs and which present the information in a format that helps you clearly explain various scenarios to your clients
- Client checklists, portals and electronic signature capability not only make it possible to implement a "touch free"tax preparation process - from receiving slips right to the signing of documents, they also help you meet client expectations for fast turnaround times.
Read our full take on The Key to Making the 2021 Tax Season Successful.