This season started off to a rocky start with the government shutdown and reduced staff at the IRS. A new set of tax laws and a lack of approval from the IRS on all the forms we needed to file made this year start very, very slowly. This meant we began filing returns a week later than we did in 2018.
Due to the new tax laws, we determined that each of our clients would require more time than usual.. I estimated each client would require around 45 minutes more per return, but the actual number was closer to 1.5 hours. As you can guess, this added time started to create a backlog in early March. Though we hired additional staff to keep all of the returns and communication flowing, it wasn’t enough to cover all of our bases.
For the first time since I started this firm, we had to enforce the drop date of March 15th, which is explained in our engagement letters. Anyone who did not provide us their information before this date would be subject to a tax extension.
Despite its challenges, we survived tax season, we filed all of the extensions needed, and we filed many tax returns. The question then becomes, what have we learned from this?
For me, the first lesson learned is: while I have a plan and a backup plan, that doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to be enough. When planning for tax season, I need to accommodate for factors like the flu, which hit two of our staff during our busiest time of the year.
Second, I need to look at how many additional clients we are willing to bring on during tax season. We have always had some strong rules about the number of clients we would bring on and the type of returns we would process. I enforced several of these rules and walked away from some potential clients that were not a good fit. For other clients, I really wanted to help and bent the rules when I should not have.
Third, we need to set better expectations surrounding communication with our clients. We tend to send out email updates to our email list of clients along with social media but not everyone is signed up to receive these updates.
Our goal is to always improve and do our best.
Thank you for standing with us through this tax season.