Tax season is over (or is it?): now what?

Author:Crisler, Michael W.
 
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Sure, busy season may be in your rearview mirror (for the moment, at least), but take care not to leave it there for too long. Summer break is here, and traveling and time away from work can be very enticing--as they should be. However, now is also the perfect time to ensure that all is right with your professional practice as you look forward to the next busy season only a few short months away. This column presents a few thoughts to consider before you fill up your gas tank and take to the open road for the summer vacation that you worked so very hard for.

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Summer is a time for special projects

Just because tax season has ended and you are thinking about being on the beach with a nice, refreshing beverage in hand, that does not mean that the projects "on hold" can wait any longer (no rest for the weary, right?). It is time to roll up those sleeves and consider how to tackle any special projects that you may have put on the back burner during the last few months. Open those files, reacquaint yourself with your notes, and consider the possibilities. Is there a summertime tax projection to be done? Or maybe a research project regarding an upcoming sale transaction? Consider your current staffing to determine who would be best suited for the project.

Here are points to contemplate when assigning a special project to a staff person:

* Consider the staff person's current and upcoming workload. For example, is he or she assigned to a large partnership that is on extension, where the bulk of the work may be performed over the summer months? If so, that staff member might not be the best fit for the project.

* Consider the cost efficiencies that you, as the business owner, are trying to manage. What do you ultimately expect to be able to bill the client for?

* Consider that special projects can be teachable moments outside the normal course of tax return preparation.

* Take care to provide staff with a deadline and a budget--especially in the summer months--to ensure that the project is appropriately prepared and that sufficient time remains for review.

* Think ahead to what's next. Maybe the special project will bring about a future workload (i.e., another tax return). If so, perhaps the staff person assigned to the special project should then be involved in those next steps, creating yet another learning opportunity.

Analyze returns filed in April

To generate potential special projects, further analyze the returns that were just filed. "Analysis of a Tax Return for Personal Financial Planning," a resource from the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Division (available at tinyurl. com/gto85m7), is a helpful place to start. From this analysis, several opportunities could translate into benefits for your firm...

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