Ten Reasons to Hate Tax Season
And seven ways to learn to love it instead. How’s YOUR tax season so far? Join the survey, compare results with your peers.
February 9, 2009
Tax professionals may be embarking on one of their busiest busy seasons in memory, fraught with a rapidly-sinking economy, traumatized clients and a turbulent tax and regulatory environment.
From my experience, the most important thing CPAs can do at this time is to be there to hold their client’s hand, gain a full understanding of their goals and anxieties and plot new strategies together.
HOW’S YOUR BUSY SEASON?
“Be proactive in letting clients know that you are aware of the market turmoil, and share their concerns,” says William Reichenstein, a finance professor at Baylor University who was at last month’s AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning conference. From an investment perspective, Reichenstein urges clients to stay in the market. “If they can tolerate the thought, I think now is a wonderful time to rebalance back to their strategic stock allocation,” he says. “This likely means selling bonds and buying stocks.”
As someone said about the guillotine, there’s nothing like tax season to focus the mind. At no other time in the year, do CPAs have as much of the client’s attention. That’s why I call it “opportunity season.”
But counseling clients may not be at the top of CPAs’ minds as they swing into tax season.
If there’s a lot on your mind, you’re not alone. There are at least 10 other issues vexing professionals this year, according to James Reeves, senior vice president of New Product Development at the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters.
How many of these are you ready for?
That’s a lot to worry about. But the best way to deal with it is to focus on clients, one client at a time.
In light of all the changes and uncertainties, CPAs will be spending a lot of time managing client expectations and “client fears,” says Ellen Bruno of Compliance Advisors, which counsels CPAs on financial planning services. Practitioners need to help them stay focused on long-term goals and not modify them because of short-term issues, “to spend on needs not wants, and postpone, if possible, major withdrawals,” she says.
Mark Tibergian, CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC and an expert on CPA firms, offers this punch list:
These are the times when CPAs really earn their keep, according to Gary Carrai, senior managing director at Fortigent LLC, a financial services firm catering to CPAs. “CPAs should combine all of the knowledge about a particular client and be active in meeting and planning with clients rather than waiting for clients to reach their own conclusions,” he says. “Communication in any environment is important, but in times like these it is critical.”
JOIN THE SURVEY: How’s YOUR tax season so far? Join the survey, compare results with your peers.
COMMENTS: Rants, raves, ideas or questions? Contact Rick Telberg.
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