Tax by the Alphabet: A Simplified View of a Tax Accountant’s Busy Season
Jan 31, 2018
By Erica Diaz, Tax Manager
Tax season is hectic for everyone! But imagine how busy tax accountants must be during the months of February, March and April of every year.
Being a numbers person, I can tell you that Weinstein-Spira, for example, currently prepares well over 2,500 tax filings, and a member of our 30-person Tax accounting team personally contacts each client to initiate and help with their tax filings. We work with our clients to obtain an understanding of what the year looks like for a given company or individual. In so doing, there are certain terms that drive this process and bear reviewing as another tax season approaches. Hopefully, the following A-Z definitions will simplify and de-mystify what’s entailed with tax preparation, both behind the scenes and in full view of anyone who has ever filed a tax return.
- Accounting for current year activity – This client-focused task takes into account money earned and money spent in the current tax year. It is the most basic, yet crucial, accounting activity we perform for our clients during tax season or ongoingly throughout the year.
- Accuracy – When reporting tax information to the IRS, accuracy is of utmost importance. It’s perhaps the single best reason for hiring a professional accounting firm specializing in tax preparation. Getting it right the first time helps avoid being audited by the IRS. To ensure tax returns have been prepared correctly, multiple levels of review are conducted by Weinstein-Spira tax managers/supervisors and shareholders.
- Communication – There can never be too much communication when it comes to tax preparation. We don’t want to overlook any business/personal changes that commonly occur during the course of a year that could potentially impact tax liability. Not only does out Tax team communicate with clients about such changes, we also discuss amongst ourselves any/all changes that have taken place in the tax code to ensure we’re in sync.
- Deductions – It is the role of tax accountants to always review client information with an eye on making sure all entitled deductions are utilized. This often leads to a line of questions asked for clarification purposes. We ask clients to bear with us and respond to questions in a timely manner, as it assists us in properly reflecting legitimate deductions and not leave any money on the table.
- Deadlines – The tax accounting world is seriously deadline-oriented! And these are not arbitrary or flexible deadlines like some internally set goals. They are externally driven by the IRS and add to the intensity of our busy season. We work with clients to make sure their deadlines are met.
- Efficiency – It helps to have efficient operations in place to get through the tax season in a timely manner, without sacrificing quality. As part of Weinstein-Spira’s overall Greenbelt project, the Tax team scrubbed our processes, addressing areas that needed improvement to be as efficient as possible in tax return preparation.
- Itemize – This has to do with eligible deductions. On a personal tax return, deductions can be a big source of tax savings. It’s up to tax accountants to help you take advantage of those savings on items like sales tax, charitable contributions, medical expenses, casualty loss (from hurricane Harvey, etc.) and so on.
- Juggling – With all sorts of different client needs simultaneously occurring, many tax accountants find themselves applying the art of juggling during tax season to make sure each client receives the best service. We try not to drop any balls.
- Life cycle – Every tax return has a distinct life cycle. It begins with sending out an engagement letter around the beginning of the year and runs all the way to the client receiving their completed tax return for submission to the IRS. The steps in between include information gathering; tax preparation, itself; and internal review, as well as client review.
- Planning – We know that you do your own planning ahead for tax time. However, tax accountants must also be good strategic planners to proactively meet with clients early in the season. This gives both parties a head start and, from our end, it helps mitigate the influx of information that tends to come either all at once or in waves.
- Relationships – A high priority of Weinstein-Spira tax accountants is to build and maintain a good relationship with clients. We make every effort to stay in touch with what’s going on in the area of business/personal matters, so we know what questions to ask at tax time.
- Research – Tax accountants need to educate themselves and keep abreast with the latest regulatory and tax code changes in order to best represent client interests. This type of research goes on around the clock in today’s dynamic business and tax environment.
- Tax returns – There are lots of different flavors when it comes to tax returns and filing requirements. Whether it’s a corporation, partnership or individual, tax accountants need to assess the situation and understand the various filing schedules and appropriate deliverables to the IRS.
- Teamwork – With multiple members on a Tax team like ours, close teamwork and collaboration is key to successful outcomes on client tax returns. We continually develop our team member’s skills and professional knowledge to better serve clients today, while creating the “Weinstein of the Future.”