During the regular tax season, your practice can feel like a well-oiled machine; you and your team are on top of client communication, deadline driven and downright efficient, but once March 15 has passed, so has much of the sense of urgency for our clients that filed an extension. How do you recapture that high level of productivity so you can be ready for the business extension deadline?
With S corporation and partnership tax returns due Sept. 15, and C corporation returns due Oct. 15, now is the time to get ready to meet these deadlines. Here are five ways to do that.
Set goals. During tax season, did you set a measurable goal for your firm? Some examples of this could be achieving a certain satisfaction percentage score on performance surveys, emailing clients with a personal status update 100 percent of the time or contacting clients within a certain time limit to confirm receipt of documents. If we set goals for productivity during tax season, why not continue the practice into extension season as well?
Maintain accountability. Do you typically tell a client that their return will be complete within a certain amount of time? If so, continue to stick to that time frame! Don’t let complacency get the better of you. Just because you know that the pressure of filing the return is off for a few months is no reason to operate at less than peak performance.
Take CPE courses and/or self study. The off season is the perfect time to work on your CPE requirements. Perhaps there is an area of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or other tax law you want to achieve a better understanding of so it can be applied to your existing business clients who are on extension. What better time to educate yourself than during the quieter months before extensions are due?
Don’t procrastinate. While it’s all too easy to do, procrastinating just makes you appear inefficient and unprofessional to your clients. If they expect a response to their email within one business day, meet that expectation. If you say that the return will be complete in two weeks, follow through. If you promise the client anything, deliver on that promise!
What to do if you’re already behind. Getting behind happens to the best of us. We go into extension season with the mindset that we’ll continue to operate at peak efficiency, but then we relax the pressure we’ve put on ourselves and become complacent. Recognizing this and knowing that you need to make a course correction is half of the battle!
Consider Each Client
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my suggestion is to start small. Assess where you are at in the tax return process with each of your business extension clients, then set an individual, personalized goal for them and a time frame in which to accomplish it. Be sure to track what that goal is so you can refer to it when you follow up.
Editor’s note: Register to attend upcoming tax webinars that focus on the business extension deadline: “Preparing Corporate Returns” and “Preparing 1065 and 1120-S Returns.”