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A winner’s guide to surviving the January tax season

Posted 3 years ago in Advisors by Ashleigh Lambert

Guest post by Tony Stevenson, Partner Enablement Specialist at XeroTony Stevenson has some great tips for surviving the January tax season

Now the turkey and mince pie have subsided, for the old school tax professional it’s time to jump with both feet into the busiest time of the year.

We all knew it was coming and now the January tax season is upon us (don’t say it out loud!).

There’s been a shift in recent times: more people are doing their simple returns by themselves, and with the rise and rise of cloud technology, real time banking and the ‘doing it as you go along’ method, this has, for those in the know, eased the burden considerably.

Many practices are using Xero Ledgers’ functionality to quickly cash-code items, or if they need, to open a .ofx file sent by clients to quickly read the information.

Using Xero efficiently results in many firms reporting that January is no longer a big stress.  But for the rest of us who are still a little worried, here are some tips to help you and your team breeze through.

Plan, plan and plan again

It should go without saying, but you must plan ahead – not just for an increased workload, but a real plan. Plan to make the most of your team’s skill set. Plan for problem clients. Success for many has come from having the partner split clients into A, B and C, where they then prioritise assignments correctly.

Plan for how you will deal with overtime. Plan for the amount of hours you’ll actually need. It has to be more than simply: “It’s January, plan to be here ‘til midnight.”

Educate clients so you can avoid the same pain next year. Offer discounts in April/May for paperwork submitted to avoid the cost of paying overtime in January. Equally, charge a premium for any records submitted from October onwards.

Technology and the cloud

Make the most of technology – it’s here to make your life easier. Make the most of the cloud, and get everything running smoothly beforehand to reap the benefits of not having to wait for your information. Real time collaboration. Work done beforehand. Being on top.

Recognise their pain

In the maelstrom it can be easy to focus on what isn’t running quite to plan and to forget the mountain of good that your team is churning out. Treat them to a last supper. Ply them with sugary treats. Focus on solutions to problems which they almost certainly didn’t cause. Now is your time to be their leader and motivator.

You cannot overestimate the lasting goodwill this will generate.

Problem children

No matter how well you plan, there will always be clients who are late, incomplete, or both. Recognise these problem children early on. They are usually repeat offenders. Engage with them early, be utterly firm with them and do not let them throw a spanner into your finely tuned machine.

This is never an easy time; there is a whole heap to get done. But if you see this as an opportunity, you can get a lot more out the process. This is your chance to make the most of the cloud and the technology at your fingertips, the chance to dust off your processes and fine tune them for the year ahead.

And it’s the chance to be a hero. Reconnect closely with your team and appreciate the hard work they put in for you and your firm. If you can put all of this into practice, you will sail serenely into spring time with happy clients and a happy team.

Why not make contact with the Xero Enablement Team or your Account Manager for strategies and recommendations on how Xero can help you ease the stress and pain of January.

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