The 2021 tax season will look different from any previous year. In order to prepare for this season and offer the very best service to your clients, we recommend you examine your practice for readiness. Below are a few suggestions.
- Stay constantly up-to-date on tax complications due to pandemic relief efforts and insurance cases. Ongoing updates and clarifications can have a dramatic effect on your clients’ returns. Become an “expert” in the tax implications of PPP loans, stimulus checks, and other government interventions and how they affect your clients’ tax responsibility.
- Changes in the tax code take place every year, even when there is no pandemic to complicate things. Watch for ongoing rate and regulation changes that result from the 2018 Tax Reform. Become familiar with changes to Forms 1040, 1099-NEC, and others. Update your tax software, if you are not using an automatically-updated web-based program, to ensure the most recent tax information is in your system.
- If you don’t already have it, purchase CPA liability insurance to protect yourself against possible legal disputes. With the uncertainty and the rapid changes in the tax landscape right now, this insurance seems more necessary than ever before.
- Evaluate your manpower and determine if you need to provide training to employees or perhaps hire more help. If the latter, decide if you should hire part-time, temporary, or full-time employees, or independent contractors. Examine the tax benefits of each to your practice, consider your long-term growth goals, and start interviewing.
- 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 touch-point with your clients, keeping you present in their minds and securing your relationship so it’s less likely they will change accountants.
- Communicate with clients and potential clients now to help them start to prepare for tax time. Share with them any updates or words of wisdom via emails, blogs, social media posts, or newsletters. Frequent, professional communication will keep you fresh in their minds, confirm their respect for you as an expert, and give them something to share with friends to say “see what my accountant said about this.” Sharing content leads to new clients.
- Consider developing a multi-tiered service plan, offering additional and expanded services to clients as the tiers increase. For instance, the lowest tier might simply include yearly tax prep, but subsequent tiers may include bookkeeping services, year-round advisory services to make tax-beneficial decisions throughout the year, and/or financial planning advice – whatever your strengths or interests are. As you develop tiers, communicate them to your clients. This strategy is a powerful tool for building client relationships and expanding your practice.
- Consider social media advertising or incentive programs for your current clients to refer people to your practice.
As a CPA, you need to be constantly mindful of current clients while simultaneously expanding your client base. Offering the best service to your current clients can help grow your practice by word of mouth, but you can also grow your practice by being a thought leader offering blogs and webinars or by marketing your strategic advantages (convenient client portal, variety of services, etc.) to a wider audience. As you prepare for 2021, think about how you can communicate to your clients and potential clients that you are ready to serve them.