The Covid-19 pandemic is still causing problems for businesses and individuals, and your clients’ 2021 taxes will certainly reflect that. In addition, precautions are still advised regarding both your workforce and your interaction with clientele. Besides the usual preparations for tax season, you’ll need to keep these additional challenges in mind.
The Usual Pre-Tax Preparations
- Make sure you’re up to date with changes in the tax code, whether they are driven by the pandemic or by ongoing updates and clarifications. Educate your staff in these areas, as well.
- Make sure your CPA liability insurance is current to protect you from any legal disputes.
- Evaluate your team to see if you need additional help or if you need to offer specialized training. If you determine you need to hire someone new, decide if you’ll need full-time, part-time, or a contractor. Examine the tax effects of each in conjunction with your long-term goals and start interviewing.
- Start communicating with your clients now about what they can expect this tax season and how they should be preparing.
- Reach out personally to your clients and find out if they have any important questions or issues they want to discuss. Take the opportunity to suggest any add-on services.
- Evaluate your technology. Is your software up to date and secure? Do your computers need an upgrade? Do you have a secure method for the storage of documents and standard procedures for securely shredding work-related papers?
- Streamline data processes for clients. Use a secure online client tax organizer for clients to load data and review tax results. Additionally, get eSignature software. These technologies will dramatically improve turnaround time. The tax organizer also offers a year-round touchpoint with your clients, keeping you present in their minds and securing your relationship so it’s less likely they will change accountants.
- If you have not yet done so, implement a collaboration platform so your team can connect their shared projects, sync information through a central hub, and engage in secure team video-conferencing.
Additional Preparation or Precautions
- Research thoroughly to determine how your clients may be affected by PPP loans, stimulus checks, and other government interventions. Demonstrate your knowledge in pre-tax-season communications with your clients in order to further impress upon them your expertise and get them prepared with the documentation you will need when tax season comes.
- Make sure you and your staff are well-versed in a high-quality, secure teleconferencing service for interacting with clients. You’ll also want screen-sharing capabilities. Communicate with your clients that you will be using a secure service so they can discuss their sensitive financial information with you in full confidence.
- Work to build your online digital footprint – beef up your website, offer informational blogs or short videos, and get active on Facebook or whatever social media your clients use. Offer a regular email or “snail mail” newsletter. Ask your best clients how they would like to be communicated with and start offering valuable content in that format.
- Consider advertising where your ideal clients will see it. This is a time of dramatic changes. Many businesses and individuals will be looking for an expert to guide them through the financial implications and help them both retain and grow their assets. Make sure they know that expert is you.
The biggest impact Covid-19 has had on CPA practices, besides the financial particulars of special loans and incentives, is the need for very intentional, well-thought-out communication. Find the right online tools for your particular needs and those of your clients. Plan valuable content that your clients will see on a regular basis. Advertise for your ideal clients where they will see it, emphasizing your expertise in the current challenges we are facing. Though no one expected a pandemic, and we all certainly hope it ends soon, this could still be a time of growth for your CPA firm, if you do your research and communicate well.