Preserving your sanity in tax return season - Time Management techniques (Part One)

The summer break is a distant memory and we are now very much bunkered down for the onset of winter and with that comes the dreaded 31 January deadline looming yet again.

Once again we have failed to put systems in place to avoid the perennial crisis- justifiably so due to pressures of client demands, volume of work and staffing or recruitment issues. This is the life of a practitioner.

Now is the time to make the most of the time available and put some simple strategies in place to ensure client service levels are maintained and staff aren’t wanting to move to another firm come the 1st February 2016.

What will happen if you do nothing (does this rings any alarm bells with you?)

  • Gut instinct tells you that you still have a mountain of tax returns and accounts to complete before 31 st January 2016. It still seems like a long way off but you remember the stress of previous years and are determined this time to avoid a repeat of the past.
  • There are many tax returns partially complete with ‘missing information’. The same applies to accounts which are needed for the tax returns.
  • Despite chasing clients repeatedly for missing information since April there isn’t much progress being made.
  • You have no real idea of the exact number of tax returns and accounts to be processed and the volume that are already in progress but not complete.
  • Similarly, you have no real idea of the resources available to you in the working time remaining leading up to 31 st January 2016. You know there are staff holidays, study leave, Christmas and the inevitable ‘winter flu’ sick days that will reduce your production time. You are also struggling to recruit at the moment and there is a scarcity of good quality candidates on the market.
  • You are nervous about your client service levels and worry about the risk of clients looking for a new accountant. Clients don’t quite understand why you can’t tell them what their personal tax bills are going to be in January and July next year as they haven’t given you all the information you need yet. You know they will blame our personally on 31st January when you tell them what tax they have to pay and when they reply’ don’t be ridiculous- where am I meant to find that money from !’
  • Why is it that clients never appreciate the fact you and your team have worked up to 70 hours a week in the months before and after Christmas just to meet the filing deadlines for clients. When you finally advise them of their tax liability they complain and that’s before you then send your invoice and want paying for the bad news you’ve just delivered!

Not a good way to start the New Year……………… Any of this sound familiar?
In Part Two we will look at how there is still time to change things.

Click here to read part two.

October 2015 Copyright - Finola McManus Practice Perfect

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