Rick Telberg

3-2-1: Countdown to April 15

Are CPAs expecting a smooth end to Tax Season 2008? SOUND OFF: How will you celebrate the end of Busy Season 2008?

April 7, 2008
by Rick Telberg/At Large

Many of the most critical problems that tax practitioners faced earlier in the filing season appear to be easing as April 15th approaches.

CPAs are racing into the final week of Busy Season 2008 with measurably better business metrics than they indicated in earlier weeks in the season.

Most accountants responding to the CPA Trendlines sounding board, said their stress levels appear to have eased from earlier in the season. More accountants are reporting smoother operations. We’re seeing week-by-week improvements in profits and client traffic. And early-season problems with technology, software and workflow management are relaxing.

SOUND OFF: How will you celebrate the end of Busy Season 2008?

Take the survey. Join the discussion.

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As April 15th approaches, the problem of late or erroneous K-1s and 1099s are looming larger. Jeff Quick, a partner at Horne CPAs in Tucson, Ariz., is reporting moderate stress levels, largely due to "late-arriving data and incorrect 1099s." However, his operations are still running smoothly.

At Ulbrich & Co. in Arlington Heights, Ill., President Norman Ulbrich reports that a surge in new tax clients is leading to a backlog of 1040s, but a "small rate increase" is offsetting "more time spent per client due to questions regarding the economy, stimulus rebate, investments and general tax concerns."

One practitioner noted increased pressure from clients to file before April 15 because they don't want to wait any longer for their rebate checks.

Still, Nitai Pathak, managing partner at Kling & Pathak CPAs in Cerritos, Calif., reports a relatively worry-free season after instituting "more organization" within the firm. On the client side, Pathak prepared for busy season by "training clients to take responsibility for good data and working with them to understand the process."

In Elk Grove, Calif., Jim Fritzsche is enjoying a better season because a 20 percent rate increase lopped off 10 percent of his (mostly problematic) clients. He even has time to unwind studying Shakespeare through a local college. "It is a joy to get lost in the plays," Fritzsche says, having plowed through 11 plays in 15 weeks.

Nevertheless, a shortage of trained accountants continues to impinge on many tax practices. "We have plenty of new hires," says one practitioner, "but few experienced staff." Says another, "Lots of work, but nobody to hand it off to." And a third adds, "The practice has grown and workload has increased, but staff have not 'grown.' Staff who have left have been replaced with less-experienced people."

Practitioners are also reporting on their personal de-stressing techniques. Gerard Stifter in Winsted, Minn., for instance, avoids working "late in the day." Another accountant makes sure to "play with my three young children every day after dinner at home."

But our favorite of the offbeat de-stressing solutions comes from our old friend and former AICPA colleague Andrew Gioseffi in Congers, N.Y., who says, "I sleep upside down on my inversion table."

Sounds slightly dangerous to us, but in Busy Season, anything goes.

HOW DOES YOUR BUSY SEASON COMPARE? Join the survey. Get the benchmarks.

ADD A COMMENT: Suggestions, questions, rants or raves? Contact Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2008 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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