Christmas cheer is just around the corner, but where does the other strange feeling come from?
The first four months of every calendar year are the time when accountants are at their busiest. From January to April, there are few things that accountants do besides tax filing. This is what makes busy seasons so stressful for accountants.
Every year from January to April many hard-working accounting specialists are going to lose sleep, rest and disturb their normal work-life balance till the very end of the tax season. It takes years of experience to get used to it, but it seems you’re never ready. If you’re a busy accountant seeking useful tips on how to survive this turbulent tax season and make your workflow as easy and stress-free as possible, you’ll find this article helpful.
What is tax season like for accountants?
Tax season can be one of the most stressful times for accountants. Typically from January to April they’re required to work long hours, meet tight deadlines, and ensure client confidentiality.
Accounting professionals have many paperwork responsibilities that they need to keep up with during the tax season (such as 1099s, W-2s, etc.). They must be organized, detail-oriented, and prepared for anything that may happen during this Feb-April tax filing season. Accountants need to know the tax laws inside out, as well as how to handle any potential problems that may arise.
What months are busy season for accountant?
Many people wonder what the accounting busy season is since it seems accountants are always up to their eyes at work. The truth is that there’s no definite answer to this question because it really depends on the type of accountant and the location. However, some accountants tend to work more during certain seasons than others.
For example, the audit busy season usually lasts for 3 months, from January to March. This already sounds like a bad joke. The tax season is no better — the deadline is usually April 15.
How many hours do accountants work during busy season?
When asking accountants on Quora or Reddit or any other forum how much time they work during the tax season or busy season, you’ll hardly hear about reasonable hours of work. And probably a lot of them will say that Saturday has become their working day as well.
The working hours during the accounting busy season are typically somewhat between 50 and 80 hours per week. However, the number of hours varies depending on the complexity of the client’s taxes and their own workload.
Will tax filing season be easier in 2023?
Each year the outcome is becoming harder to predict. According to Mark Steber, senior vice president and chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt, the 2022 tax filing season was supposed to be harsh, but surprisingly the process has gone pretty smoothly. Especially in comparison to what happened a few years ago.
“It was smooth by any standard, but especially so when you compare it with the two seasons before it. Returns were processed seamlessly, and our customers got their refunds seamlessly. Having said that, there are always problems and glitches, but in reflection not as many as the past two years. I would give the IRS a solid ‘A’ in terms of efficiency.”
However, with all the changes coming each year from the IRS side, it’s impossible to say whether or not the upcoming tax season will have mercy on your mental state. The fact is that there’s no avoiding tax filing in 2023 and the best thing that you can do is to get ready for any inconveniences and be able to timely respond to challenges.
So let’s find out what can be done to eliminate stress and not to face burnout. Below you’ll find a list of useful tips for accountants that will help you complete this busy season journey with as much joy and peace of mind as possible.
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5 tax busy season survival tips for CPAs
Busy season tip #1. Don’t pick up the phone when doing tax season preparation for the firm
Executing time management strategies may be difficult for an accountant when personal relations come into play. If you love your clients, you’ll do your utmost to meet your customers’ needs 24/7 while doing their firm tax work.
In no time, a CPA turns into a busy bee, spending 20-plus hours a week answering requests for legal advice on tax season preparation and deductions from the owners of small businesses, who are likely to be past their filing deadlines. But does overworking mean high performance? Not at all.
More often than not, it means entering the zombie zone. And it’s neither in the interests of your clients, nor your own. Let’s put it straight. When a CPA is in the zombie zone, you can’t perform well during the tax filing season. Will your clients be satisfied with loosely done books auditing and tax preparation in the end? That’s why the busy season is all about setting boundaries.
For the upcoming tax season, do your planning and stick to it. Schedule time for different activities as precisely as you possibly can. Schedule time for communicating with clients. Schedule time for meetings, incoming calls, emails, and message responses. Give your clients detailed information about when, how, and on what topic they can get in touch with you. Take your time to do the things you have to do without getting distracted by non-prioritized demands, without feeling guilty of it.
That’s one of the best tips a CPA can get at the beginning of the tax season fever.
Don’t be afraid of clients getting frustrated. There must be time for accounting and time for life. By setting boundaries, you alleviate the pressure of meeting unrealistic expectations. Let your clients know what assistance services they can expect from you. It’s much better than making promises you can’t actually fulfill. It builds trust. If you perform your job to the discussed expectations, your clients will always stay satisfied.
There’s nothing rude about boundaries. Explain the positive effect of your mindful auditing and accurate accounting on their tax deductions. Set up voicemail and the auto-reply function on your emails with a polite notification when you’re going to be back. Loving your clients doesn’t mean having a ban on saying no. It means giving their businesses the best professional help you can during the busy season.
Busy season tip #2. Be lazy and automate accounting
No jokes here, if you haven’t introduced yourself to cloud-based programs before the upcoming tax season, you might be missing out and doing extra work on your accounting that you don’t have to anymore. The world is changing, and your clients’ accounting demands are growing. How long will you be able to keep your head above water? It’s high time you got rid of manual records and ensured correct synchronization of data, especially during this busy tax filing season.
Many business owners today are implementing accounting automation solutions, which is a great option to keep your financial records accurate and secure. But it’s not everything that a modern business needs from an accounting system.
In a few years, the complexity of real-time e-commerce transactions will make it impossible to keep reconciling bank statements manually. Forget about maintaining accounting records to be accurate and up to date during the busy season. We need to accept the necessity of shifting all mundane tasks to accounting automation software.
When filing for the tax season, there’s more need for trustworthy accounts receivable solutions than ever before. But if you want to collect all the data from selling platforms or payment providers correctly, you won’t be able to do it in an error-proof way through the direct integration of payment platforms to the accounting system. Luckily, accounting software solutions make the whole process easier. One of these software solutions is Synder Sync.
Synder Sync – a helper for both busy CPAs and business owners – is a fully-functional accounting receivable solution that provides real-time data transfers from all the payment processors into the accounting software. This automation tool fills all the missing gaps and spots ‘lost’ fees, sales taxes, shipping costs and provides its users with the most accurate and detailed reports. No more mess with transactions during the tax filing season.
As an accountant working with a business owner, you can share one account and always have access to the ongoing sync of the transactions from all the connected platforms.
Synder Sync integrates with:
E-commerce: Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, BigCommerce, etc. (check out for more on our integration page)
Payment providers: Stripe, PayPal, Square, etc. (check out for more on our integration page)
Now, as Synder Sync does all the work in the background, get yourself a cup of coffee, and let’s proceed with some more tips on how to make this busy season feel even better.
Schedule a Demo session whenever it suits you and get familiar with the flow!
Busy season tip #3. Balance work and personal life while you’re busy accounting
Tax season is all about balancing work, family, and accounting reporting.
Explain to your friends and family that the busy season demands more time on your financial statements and that you’re not ignoring them. In fact, you need more attention, care, and understanding from your close ones than ever.
Discuss the possibilities of releasing you from some household activities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Even if it’s small things like taking your dog for a walk. Any help will be priceless for you in the thick of the busy tax filing season.
You’ll find it life-saving to schedule daily and weekly family meetings or adjust the ones that you already have to fit your current work and life pace. Don’t sacrifice completely on little (but essential) life pleasures such as a family dinner or an evening walk together. Your sacrifice will become theirs, too. That’s why maintaining a work-life balance should remain a top priority during the busy season. Even if it’s 15 minutes instead of an hour, it’s still worth having.
Busy season tip #4. Nurture brain and body for better accounting practice
Normally, we don’t question basic things like sound sleep and stable nutrition. But during three and a half months of the restless tax season, many things might break for a CPA.
The majority of accountants claim to be working as much as 56 hours a week during the tax filing season — weekends included, some of them raising the bar as high as 90. When stress is at the risk level, even the most basic self-care needs become neglected. It will inevitably affect the quality of professional services you perform.
That’s why you’ll have to force yourself to keep an eye on your health. Take a mental break from time to time and stretch your muscles. You might even have to set a notification to eat! Things like that don’t seem crazy during the tax season at all.
Remind yourself to nurture your bodily needs and put them in your planner. Want to stay focused for the whole next day? Get some good sleep. That’s the best advice you can ever follow.
There are many simple apps that can make your life easier during the tax season. Search for local healthy food delivery, 5-minute meditation guides, eye-relaxation exercises, a mood tracker, and build them into your daily workflow.
Busy season tip #5. Go on a vacation amidst busy tax season
There’s a misbelief that accountants aren’t supposed to take any vacations at the peak of the tax filing season. However, many accountants do prefer to take a weekend or two off and get carried away to a place where nothing resembles reconciliation statements of tax filing forms.
Still hesitant about the idea? Consider this. The tax season is a marathon for the accountants. Spending 90% of your time on auditing, revising books, tax planning, and preparing financial reports will inevitably drain your brain and body at some point. Many feel like breaking right in the middle of this marathon. No chance of achieving work-life balance when strained to the limits.
Clearly, you’ll need a second wind, so why not go on a vacation? While the remaining coronavirus restrictions around the world don’t foster traveling, many exotic destinations are open for US visitors. If booking a flight far away sounds too risky at the moment, carry yourself to the nearest calm place, preferably with a beach, take a long hike in the mountains or a cycling excursion into the woods. Let yourself rest for a small period of time from the endless tax season race.
A short break won’t hurt your business but will save your sanity. Getting a brief recharge may be surprisingly helpful for boosting your energy.
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Conclusion: how to prepare for accounting busy season
Tax season is far more demanding than the rest of the year for every practicing accountant. But surviving the bustling tax season is all about mindset.
Don’t ignore automation and help your business with any technology enhancement that facilitates accounting data management. Utilize software solutions for easy accounting like Synder. Prioritize time management with clients and don’t hesitate to set professional boundaries, where they’re necessary. And of course, remember to take care of yourself and show love to your family to maintain a healthy work-life balance during the tax filing season.
Whenever you feel like you’re exhausted, keep in mind the long-term perspective. Remind yourself that this is just a tax season, something temporary, and you just have to make it through to enjoy the rewards afterwards.
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