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survive tax season

Tax season 2021: 5 survival tips for busy accountants

All the accountants I know are slammed with work right now. It’s tax season. Many aspiring accounting specialists are going to lose sleep, rest and disturb their normal work-life balance till the middle of spring. It takes years of experience to get used to it, but it seems you’re never ready. If you’re a busy accountant seeking useful tips on how to survive this turbulent period and make your workflow as easy and stress-free as possible, you’ll find this article helpful. 

Will tax season 2021 be less busy than 2020?

As analysts predict, there actually might be a bigger rise in the demand for professional accounting, auditing, and tax help services due to the government incentives during COVID-19 last year. The Coronavirus pandemic led to new programs designed to aid small businesses. But with all the help from the government, certain changes in tax deductions followed. Many small and e-commerce businesses will require certified financial assistance to ensure they are complying with current tax regulations. 

The IRS also makes sure to challenge SMB’s even more, as it promised to increase its compliance activity. According to this program, the number of new legal examinations of smaller businesses and their investors is going to grow by 50%. Given the overall complexity of recent tax law and audit procedure changes, many e-commerce and start-up businesses this year might be choosing to hire tax management advisors who will ensure accurate accounting and tax reporting. 

However, there’s no cause for any further concern, experts claim. Tax season 2021 is promising to be just as hectic as usual. So let’s find out what can be done to eliminate the stress. Below you’ll find the list of useful tips for accountants that will help you complete this journey with as much joy and peace of mind as possible.

5 survival tips for busy accountants 

Overview:

  1. Be lazy and automate accounting

  2. Don’t pick up the phone when doing tax preparation

  3. Balance work and personal life while you’re busy accounting

  4. Nurture brain and body for better accounting practice

  5. Go on a vacation amidst tax busy season

1. Be lazy and automate accounting

No jokes here, if you haven’t introduced yourself to cloud-based software yet, you might be missing out and doing extra work on your accounting that you don’t have to anymore. The world is changing, and your clients’ accounting demands are growing. How long will you be able to keep your head above water? It’s high time to get rid of manual records and ensure correct synchronization of data.

Many professionals today are employing accounting automation solutions such as QuickBooks Online, which is a great tool to keep your financial records accurate and secure. But it’s not everything that a modern business needs from an accounting system. COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to online business everywhere, which means more online sales, more transactions going through various payment gateways, and of course, more multi-currency payments available to smaller businesses. In a few years, the complexity of real-time e-commerce transactions will make it impossible to keep reconciling bank statements manually. Forget about maintaining accounting records to be accurate and up to date. We need to accept the necessity of shifting all mundane tasks to accounting automation software. 

At present, there’s more need for trustworthy accounts receivable solutions than ever before. But if you want to import to QuickBooks all the complexity of e-commerce data correctly, you won’t be able to do it in an error-proof way through the direct integration of payment platforms to the accounting system. Luckily, QuickBooks Apps Store offers a variety of functional third-party data integration solutions to help you cover your specific needs, like, for example, Synder. 

Synder is a fully-functional accounting receivable solution that provides real-time correct data transfers from all the popular payment processors into the accounting software. This automation tool fills all the missing gaps and spots ‘lost’ fees, sales taxes, and shipping costs. No more mess with multi-currency transactions as well. Synder works seamlessly with it.  Thanks to this automation software, you’ll be able to keep your accounting records accurate and make bank reconciliation in QuickBooks two-clicks easy.

The best part is that Synder synchronizes transactions in seconds, and you can go as far back in historical data as you wish. So it may become a saving grace to integrate Synder into your QuickBooks Online accounting company at the very beginning of this busy tax season. Isn’t it tempting to know you are just a few clicks away from all your QuickBooks reconciliations? We know it is, so give Synder a try! The trial is free, and it doesn’t require your credit card information.

Now, as Synder does all the work in the background, brew yourself a warm cup of coffee, and let’s proceed with some more tips on how to make this busy season feel even better.

2. Don’t pick up the phone when doing tax preparation

Executing time management strategies may be difficult for an accountant when personal relations come into play. If you love your clients, you will be prone to staying available 24/7 for their needs during the tax season. In no time, you’ll turn into a busy bee, spending 20-plus hours a week answering requests for legal advice on tax preparation and deductions from the owners of small businesses, who are likely past their filing deadlines. But does overworking mean high performance? Not at all. More often than not, it means entering the zombie zone. And it’s both not in the interests of your clients, nor your own. Let’s put it straight. When you’re in the zombie zone, you can’t perform well. Will your clients be satisfied with  loosely done books auditing and tax preparation in the end? That’s why tax season is all about setting boundaries. 

Do your planning and stick to it. Schedule time for different activities as precisely as you possibly can. Schedule time for communicating with clients. Schedule time for meetings, incoming calls, emails, and message responses. Give your clients detailed information about when, how, and on what topic they can get in touch with you. Take your time to do the things you have to do without getting distracted by non-prioritized demands, without feeling guilty for it. That’s one of the best tips accountants can get at the beginning of the tax season fever.

Don’t be afraid of clients getting frustrated. There must be time for accounting and time for life. By setting boundaries, you alleviate the pressure of meeting unrealistic expectations. Let your clients know what assistance services they can expect from you. It’s much better than making promises you can’t actually fulfill. It builds trust. If you perform your job to the discussed expectations, your clients will always stay satisfied. 

There is nothing rude about boundaries unless you are. Explain the positive effect of your mindful auditing and accurate accounting on their tax deductions. Set up voicemail and the auto-reply function on your emails with a polite notification when you will be back. Loving your clients doesn’t mean having a ban on saying no. It means giving their businesses the best professional tax help you can.

3. Balance work and personal life while you’re busy accounting

Tax season is all about balancing work, family, and QuickBooks reporting. Don’t overlook the latter advice, since it may help you improve personal communication as well. Explain to your friends and family that tax season demands more time on your financial statements and that you’re not ignoring them. In fact, you need more attention, care, and understanding from your close ones than ever. Discuss the possibilities of releasing you from some household activities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Even if it’s small things like taking your dog for a walk. Any help will be priceless for you in the thick of busy accounting season. 

You’ll find it salvatory to schedule daily and weekly family meetings or adjust the ones that you already have to fit your current work and life pace. Don’t sacrifice completely on little (but essential) life pleasures such as a family dinner or a mutual evening walk. Your sacrifice will become theirs, too. That’s why maintaining a work-life balance should remain a top priority. Even if it’s 15 minutes instead of an hour, it’s still worth having.

4. Nurture brain and body for better accounting practice

Normally, we don’t question basic things like sound sleep and stable nutrition. But during three and a half months of restless accounting practice, many things might break. The majority of accountants claim to be working as much as 56 hours a week — weekends included, some of them raising the bar as high as 90. When stress is at the risk level, even the most basic self-care needs become neglected. It will inevitably affect the quality of professional services you perform.

That’s why you’ll have to force yourself to be attentive to your health. Take a mental break from time to time and stretch your muscles. You might even have to set a notification to eat! Things like that don’t seem crazy during tax season at all. Remind yourself to nurture your bodily needs and put them in your planner. Want to stay focused for the whole next day? Get some good sleep. That’s the best advice you can ever follow. 

There are many simple apps that can make your life easier during this intense period. Search for healthy food delivery in your local area, 5-minute meditation guides, eye-relaxation exercises, a mood tracker, and build them into your daily workflow.

5. Go on a vacation amidst tax busy season

There’s a misbelief that accountants are not supposed to take any vacations at the peak of the tax preparation season. However, many accountants do prefer to take a weekend or two off and get carried away to a place where nothing resembles reconciliation statements of tax filing forms. 

Still hesitant about the idea? Consider this. The accounting season is a marathon. Spending 90% of your time on auditing, revising books, tax planning, and preparing financial reports will inevitably drain your brain and body at some point. Many feel like breaking right in the middle of this marathon. No chance of achieving work-life balance when strained to the limits. Clearly, you will need a second wind, so why not go on a vacation? While coronavirus lockdowns around the world do not foster traveling, many exotic destinations are open for US visitors. If booking a flight far away sounds too risky at the moment, carry yourself to the nearest calm place, preferably with a beach involved, take a long hike in the mountains or a cycling excursion into the woods.

A short break will not hurt your business but will save your sanity. It may be surprisingly helpful for boosting your accounting practice to get a brief recharge.

Conclusion

Tax season is far more demanding than the rest of the year for every practicing accountant. But surviving bustling tax season is all about mindset. Don’t ignore automation in 2021 and help your business with any technology enhancement that facilitates accounting data management. Utilize software solutions for easy accounting like QuickBooks and Synder. Prioritize time management with clients and don’t hesitate to set professional boundaries, where they’re necessary. And of course, remember to take care of yourself and show love to your family to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Whenever you feel like you’re exhausted, keep in mind the long-term perspective. Remind yourself that this is just a season and think about how rewarding it will be afterward. A certain number of Mondays — and you can reap the benefits!


Olga Shvets

Olga Shvets

Olga is a FinTech writer with a degree in Intercultural Communications and business experience in e-commerce. Passionate about all things money and the principles of human behavior. Financial psychology and the trends of worldwide markets are her favorite topics to investigate.

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