what to do during tax busy season
tasks that should be performed for each client
Consistency is the name of the game with client files. Consider taking these steps early, before things get too crazy.
Assign clients/tax returns to preparers and reviewers
based upon their experience and training.
Review the prior year workpaper file and permanent file.
Set up the current year file, update client profiles, and check data
transferred from last year's data files.
Organize workpaper files
with an index, checklists, and applicable notes from last year's files, including, among others, net operating loss information, credits, and carryovers.
Check tax form instructions for changes
in tax laws or regulations, changes to tax forms, and additional forms to file.
Check descriptions, formats, and formulas in document templates
created from support schedules for the prior year and update them for necessary changes. Notably, professional liability claims may arise from mathematical errors due to incorrectly updated spreadsheets.
Identify clients that have undergone significant change
or that will be significantly affected by the CARES Act, FFCRA, Tax Reform and other tax law changes implemented or expiring in 2020. Schedule a meeting with the assigned partner/manager to discuss the impact of the change (e.g., new syndicated conservation easement investments, “COVID homes,” PPP loan forgiveness, changed filing status, preparation of returns declaring foreign or out-of-state income).
Review client data promptly upon receipt
making inquiries if information appears to be incorrect, incomplete, or inconsistent, and document discussions with clients. Awkward situations may arise when information that the CPA has had for months is reviewed near the deadline, and either required information is missing or additional information is requested.
Use IRS e-services to verify estimated tax payments
made by clients in past and current years by submitting transcript requests via the IRS e-Services Transcript Delivery System. Remember that the IRS no longer faxes tax transcripts. Many states provide firms with a similar ability to verify state payments.