Mark Washburn

Opportunities for Tax Advisors

How tax practitioners can add value to their services.

December 11, 2008
by Mark Washburn, CPA/MST

Now is not the time to let the ongoing financial crisis have a negative impact on your preparation for the upcoming tax season. Rather, it is the time to do even more by increasing your visibility, and more importantly, your knowledge of all the new tax law changes effective for both the 2009 tax filing season and changes to tax laws which will impact calendar year 2009.

As corporations experience difficult times, stakeholders’ belief in management erodes to the point of nonexistence. As government doles out ever-increasing amounts of public tax dollars to private corporations in an effort to prop up the economy, the public’s trust in its elected officials wanes. Who can the public trust? You!

More than ever, a trusted tax advisor can be the ally necessary to maintain faith in the free enterprise system. Your clients already trust you with one of the most private of all matters, determining their taxable income and resulting tax liability. They look to you for the ethical application of tax law to their particular situation. Now is the time to grow that trust by becoming more than just the tax advisor.

Tips on Increasing Your Business

  • Brush up on the current requirements for contributing to Individual Retirement Accounts, whether traditional or Roth. Unless fully qualified, you should stay away from recommending specific investments. However, if you partner with a personal financial planner, insurance company or brokerage firm, you can determine the investments that offer the best rates of return for the lowest level of risk.
  • Attend a daylong seminar preparing you for the upcoming tax-filing season. Make certain you are prepared for the coming tax-filing season. A comprehensive seminar that addresses the most relevant changes to the tax code will help ensure you are up-to-date on the issues that affect your clients.
  • Increase your marketing by creating a Web site. People look for information from those they trust. With the growth of the World Wide Web and the relative ease of creating a Web site, no business should be without a presence on the Web. Disseminate information, market your expertise and provide links to important agencies or not-for-profit organizations of interest to your clientele.
  • Send e-newsletters to your clients. Today’s way of providing flash information — e-newsletters — provides a means of reaching clients in a more efficient manner than traditional print newsletters. Sophisticated tracking devices allow you to know just what your clients are reading. Perhaps even more important, opportunities exist via links for feedback from certain articles or parts of e-newsletters, allowing you to market your suggestions and information directly.
  • Use your continuing professional educational requirements to keep abreast of major changes to specific areas of your tax practice. With the abundance of CPE that is available, finding information on topics of specific interest to you and your clients is reasonably easy. Whether you attend CPE in person, online or via self-study, almost every topic imaginable is available in one of these delivery methods.

By following the above tips you will not only stay abreast of the current changes that affect your business, but will also be able to add value to your services and gain more trust from your clients.

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Mark Washburn, CPA/MST, is a Senior Lecturer in Accounting at The University of Texas at Tyler. He teaches both Individual and Corporation tax courses at the undergraduate level. He is a certified public accountant licensed in Texas and holds a Master of Science in Taxation from The University of Texas at Arlington.