Tax season is here. As accountants who specialize in helping businesses grow, this is our busy season. Throughout the month, accounting firms across the country will burn the midnight oil preparing tax returns for businesses and individuals.
It’s also a critical time for our clients. Tax returns are a significant part of a business’s financial strategy – anything falling through the cracks could have serious implications for a business’s overall goals.
That’s where an experienced accountant can help. A good accountant stays focused in the busy periods, maintaining ongoing practices that help them tackle the busy season with insight, efficiency and effectiveness.
When choosing your accountant, make sure they maintain these fundamental best practices.
1. Know Your Client
“Know your client” – it’s the starting point for an effective accountant.
When tax time comes around, a dependable, experienced accountant has already worked closely with his or her client and developed a thorough understand of its:
- Business operations
- Industry trends
- Company goals – long-term, medium-term and short-term
- Risk factors
- Organizational culture, values and priorities
Business taxation is not a once-per-year exercise. It is part of the ongoing process of learning, discussing and prioritizing the company’s activities. A good accountant has been working on the company’s accounts throughout the year, and has developed a plan for each year’s tax filing. In this way, the annual filing is simply the culmination of a year of strategic, insightful accounting work.
2. Establish Your Goals Clearly
Tax filings are a significant part of a company’s financial goals. Consequently, discussions between client and accountant should be ongoing throughout the year, not just at tax time.
For example, decisions such as whether to claim capital depreciation this year, or defer those claims for future years, depend on the long-term tax strategy and overall company goals.
March is not the time to discuss and develop your long-term goals. Those goals should be established early as they will guide the accounting process all year long.
3. Know the Canada Revenue Agency
A good accountant does not hide from the tax collector. In fact, an experienced accountant has the CRA on speed-dial, and he or she is plugged in with the CRA’s rules, priorities and practices.
This level of familiarity and insight will help the process run smoothly. A typical business tax return involves hundreds of decisions – small ones, medium-sized ones and large ones.
But how do you prioritize those decisions?
How do you know which decisions to treat as a routine matter, and which will have significant impact on the outcome?
The answer can be found in a single word – experience. A big part of the accountant’s ability to weather the busy periods comes from his or her experience and the ability to make those myriad of decisions quickly and with confidence.
It’s also one of the main reasons that a business’s tax files should not be handled exclusively by a junior associate. A business’s long-term interests are better served when the firm ensures that a partner is involved in every client project.
4. Maintain Great Technology
Companies in all industries have come to rely on network infrastructure as one of their key assets. Accounting is no different.
A solid accounting firm will have invested in a sophisticated, dependable technology network. As a client, you will benefit from the network communicating effectively, sharing information between experts, and gaining immediate insights into business problems that you may not have otherwise found.
Over the years we have encountered many accountants who, stuck in their ways, continue working with outdated technology. It’s not a recipe for gaining the best advantage possible.
Performing During Tax Seasons
Accountants work diligently during the busy season. Businesses should not fret, however, that their tax return will be lost in the shuffle of an overworked and frantic accounting firm.
An experienced, professional accountant is accustomed to working through busy season and follows best practices to stay effective during this period.