The Start of Tax Season for 2021 – What to Keep in Mind

How are accountants in Pennsylvania going to handle the 2021 tax season? For many of our members, it seems like the 2020 tax filing season just ended. Last year’s tax season was different from anything we’ve dealt with before, and this year’s will likely be challenging as well. COVID-related tax breaks and loans will be addressed in 2020 taxes, and your clients’ businesses are likely to continue to be impacted by the pandemic for the foreseeable future. Plan now to take steps to get ahead of the curve and be the resource your clients need so you can continue to grow your practice. 

Stay up-to-date

Guidance is regularly being released regarding COVID-related tax issues. Make sure you are aware of the many tax changes and government programs, such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

Other tax effects may arise due to working from home. For instance, if your client works in one state and resides in another, or if your client has decided to work from a vacation home in another state, your client may be responsible for paying taxes in both states. Your business clients will surely be impacted in a variety of ways as well. 

Read as much as you can about possible effects on individuals and businesses due to the pandemic so you can properly advise your clients.

Communicate frequently and safely with your clients

If you have not developed a system of regular communication with your clients, perhaps through a regular email newsletter, start now. Especially during these challenging times when many companies feel unsure about the future, your clients will need your firm and confident guidance in financial matters.

As with any year, your clients should be pulling together the tax documents they will need to transmit to you. Be sure to communicate the critical information you have been learning regarding COVID-related tax effects. This will help ensure that you receive important information from them that they might not otherwise know to share. 

If you have not already created a secure portal for your clients to safely transmit information to you, now would be the time. No sensitive data should ever be sent via email. Such software will give your clients confidence as they share their critical information with you, and these platforms dramatically improve the timeliness of reception of information. 

Streamline payment and signatures

Have clients complete payment authorization forms when they turn in their tax documents so you do not have to invoice them after e-filing. Use an eSignature software to collect electronic signatures, accelerating turnaround. 

Be aware of new business opportunities

When talking with your clients, remain vigilant for any additional areas where you can help them. While many companies are hesitant to commit to greater expenses at this time, you may be able to show them ways that you could actually save them money. You could also offer flexible payment plans rather than up-front retainers, which could increase their willingness to commit. By continually demonstrating your expertise and your value, you will retain current clients and build your practice, even in unsure times.