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Tax season: a survival guide for busy accountants

Tax season: a survival guide for busy accountants

Christmas cheer is just around the corner, especially since Thanksgiving is over. But where does the other strange feeling come from? 

Ah, yes. 

Tax season.

Tax season is the time of year when accountants are at their busiest. From January to April, there are few things that accountants do besides tax filing. This is what makes tax season so stressful for accountants. 

Many aspiring 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. They are 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 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 accountants? 

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 is 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 will 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 2022 than tax season 2021?

Since the IRS extended the tax season filing and payment deadlines for the two previous years due to the COVID-19 (in 2020 the due date was pushed back to July and during tax season 2021 — to May), the CPA experts are not so sure about the same extension for the upcoming tax season. For now, the Tax Day will be on April 15, 2022. 

However, there’s no cause for any further concern. Tax season 2022 is promising to be just as hectic as usual. 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 tax season journey with as much joy and peace of mind as possible.

5 tax busy season survival tips for accountants

Overview:

1. Don’t pick up the phone when doing tax season preparation

2. Be lazy and automate accounting

3. Balance work and personal life while you’re busy accounting

4. Nurture brain and body for better accounting practice

5. Go on a vacation amidst busy tax season

Busy season tip #1. Don’t pick up the phone when doing tax season preparation

Executing time management strategies may be difficult for an accountant when personal relations come into play. If you love your clients, you will be prone to staying available 24/7 for their needs during the tax season. 

In no time, you’ll turn 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 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 you’re 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 tax 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 for it. 

That’s one of the best tips accountants 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 is 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 will be back. Loving your clients doesn’t mean having a ban on saying no. It means giving their businesses the best professional help during tax season you can.

Busy season tip #2. Be lazy and automate accounting

No jokes here, if you haven’t introduced yourself to cloud-based software 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 professionals today are employing 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 tax 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 your 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. Such software solutions as Synder.

Synder 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, and shipping costs. No more mess with transactions during the tax filing season. 

Synder integrates with:

E-commerce: Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Etsy (check out for more on our integration page)

Payment providers: Stripe, PayPal, Square, IntegraPay (check out for more on our integration page)

Now, as Synder does all the work in the background, brew yourself a warm cup of coffee, and let’s proceed with some more tips on how to make this busy season feel even better.

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 tax 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 a mutual evening walk. Your sacrifice will become theirs, too. That’s why maintaining a work-life balance should remain a top priority during tax 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 restless tax season, many things might break

The majority of accountants claim to be working as much as 56 hours a week during 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 be attentive to 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 healthy food delivery in your local area, 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 are not 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 will need a second wind, so why not go on a vacation? While coronavirus lockdowns around the world do not 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 involved, 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 will not hurt your business but will save your sanity. It may be surprisingly helpful for boosting your energy to get a brief recharge.

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 think about how rewarding it will be afterward. 

A certain number of Mondays — and you can reap the benefits!

Olga Shvets

Olga Shvets

Olga is a FinTech writer with a degree in communications and business experience in e-commerce. Passionate about all things connected with money and the principles of human behavior. Financial psychology and trends of global markets are her favorite topics to investigate.

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