MANAGING YOUR TAX SEASON, Second Edition (pub. 2010 AICPA)

Every accountant has a tax season system, whether it’s documented or not. But does the system reflect thoughtful planning and training, or does each tax season become a head-long scramble to the finish line? Are you getting the most out of each of your staff members, or do partners perform work that preparers should do, cutting into partners’ time to see clients?

Managing Your Tax Season, second edition will give you fresh insight into tax preparation—and very likely result in significant improvements to your current system. You will learn to analyze your existing tax season system and target problems so that work will be more efficient, errors will decrease, and personnel, including you, will feel less stressed. Most importantly, a well run tax season will make your clients happier and more loyal.

Included are chapters on • Manage seasonality with seasonal staff, outsourcing, technology, and extensions  • Leverage technology, including suggestions for peer-to-peer training  • Discover cross-sell opportunities in pre-year-end planning  • Turn client tax organizers into tools to improve tax season efficiency and client loyalty  • Train staff to effectively implement your tax season system  • Create best practices for return preparation and review

Numerous sample checklists, letters, charts, and Excel tax comparison worksheets—all thoroughly tested will help you implement this guidance in your next tax season.

Order the book from: or if you are an AICPA member order from:


Tax season does not end on April 15. Tax preparation and tax planning have become a year-round job. There is really no time anymore that can be called purely “tax season.” Tax season is a continuous process because of the impossibility of CPA firms receiving all the returns that need to be completed by April 15. Most (almost all) firms prepare returns and are heavily involved in their individual tax practice and client interaction 12 months a year.

This book has been prepared to help the tax practitioner better serve his or her clients by using better processes and procedures in the office throughout tax season. Tax season is a high-stress time. Systems need to be established that ease the tension and allow time not only to be thoughtful and consider the issues for return preparation, but also to uncover and develop tax and financial planning opportunities for your clients.

The point of managing a tax season is that each accountant has a system. It may not be as good as it could be, but it is a system that works for that practitioner. This book helps you recognize that there is such a system and shows you ways to improve it, streamline it, or amend it, so that tax season will be less burdensome and more profitable.

Tax season is a year-round process, which starts October 16—the day after the final extensions are due—and ends the following October 15, and then restarts. To simplify the presentation of the material in this book, I have broken this year-round process into two sections: firm preparation and return preparation. The processes in both sections are no less complicated than the most involved projects and require management as intricate as any essential service. Your goal in the process is to create a world-class tax department.

A world-class tax department is one that provides great service to every client, user-friendly services, responsiveness to client questions and ideas, creativity as well as precision, and the ability to anticipate client concerns. A world-class tax department also has interested, interesting, and excited people working in an environment that fosters everything a world-class tax department should do. A world-class tax department only has “A” clients. Someone else’s B or C clients are treated as A clients by a world-class tax department. The difference is that the world-class tax department assigns the proper level of staff to that client so the client receives world-class tax department treatment.

User-friendly services are standard in a world-class tax department. A world-class tax department recognizes that its job is to communicate what it does so the desired actions will result. That communication can be achieved only when clients are made fully participatory in the process, and that means employing completely user-friendly methods. Responsiveness to client questions and ideas is what makes a world-class tax department. However, responsiveness is more than good business—it is common courtesy. A good way to deal with responsiveness is to picture yourself as the client and imagine what you expect—and then do better.

Creativity is needed, as well as precision in a world-class tax department. This requires the ability to apply the full scope of the tax person’s knowledge to every situation, juxtaposing tax law and rulings and case and fact pattern and reason, so they can recommend the best course for the client. Anticipating client concerns is de rigueur in a world-class tax department. A world-class tax planner recognizes that clients ask questions and express ideas in the context that they understand within the scope of their knowledge and experience. A world-class tax planner has to be able to flush out the real reason for the question or concern. A world-class tax planner is not afraid of asking question upon question until the planner is sure he or she is on the same wavelength as the client. A world-class tax planner cannot be embarrassed to give simple solutions to complex questions, if that is what is required; and a world-class tax planner should not be afraid to say “no” to a client when that is what is in the client’s best interest.

World-class tax department personnel have to be interested and excited in what they do and have to be able to infectiously convey that interest and excitement. A world-class tax planner has to recognize that each day, each client, and each question present new opportunities and has to believe that new opportunities are exciting. <br />World-class tax planners have to be well-rounded and involved in more than just taxes and the things they work on. They have to bring an insatiable curiosity, inquisitiveness, and worldliness to the table. They have to be able to integrate real-world situations and patterns into the client’s proposed transactions.

A world-class tax planner has to be excited and exciting. Having a world-class tax department is a continuum of activities. There is no conclusion to a discussion on running a world-class tax department—only a series of beginnings.

Some key points to having a world-class tax department are:

• A commitment to providing great service to every client.   • User-friendly services.   • Responsiveness to client questions and ideas.  • Creativity as well as precision.  • The ability to anticipate client concerns.  • Interested, interesting, excited, and exciting people working in an environment that fosters everything a world-class tax department should do.

If any questions, email Ed at