End-of-Year Organization Tips for Tax Pros

Practice Management tax practice colleagues

It’s already the end of the year and down to the wire. Are you ready for the tax year 2017 filing season? Here are some tips to help you get organized:

Tip 1: Look through your filing cabinet; you never know what will resurface. No matter how many clients you have, or if your filing cabinet is physical or virtual, this is a very important exercise. Clear out files that can be returned to the client, find things that were misfiled and purge. Perusing your files also gives you the opportunity to make sure nothing fell through the cracks.

I try to go through my cloud and paper files monthly. I’ve learned that a monthly pruning is essential to staying organized. However, there is nothing like a good purge at year end.

Electronic files are easier and harder. The ease comes from the lightness of the files and the manipulation you can do with a computer. The difficulty is that they multiply like rabbits. I decided long ago to choose the option of storing my electronic files in the cloud, and it was one of the best decisions I made because it put everything in one secure place. Before that, I had to round up all the files among all of my internal/external storage devices and corral them in. Ouch!

Using the tools that come with Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online and the power of cloud file storage makes my year-end clean up much easier. In addition, asking clients to upload their files to Intuit Link gives me a year-round collection of client-specific files. At the end of the year, I simply download the files from Link and put them directly into the client folder on my cloud storage.

And then there are the paper files … so far, I have managed to contain all the paper files into one three-drawer lateral cabinet for all my clients, but this year was a close call; I thought I would have to get another cabinet with all the growth. So, I had to be proactive and started scanning all the papers my clients gave me. I really liked that feeling I had when I handed their papers straight back to them.

My focus in 2018 is to move as much of that paper as possible up to the cloud. I really don’t want to buy, or have, another file cabinet. In addition to emptying out your file cabinet, the lightness of electronic files yields many benefits. The office is easier to clean up at the end of the day, files are easily found, and the search function on a computer works far better and faster than leafing through the multitude of papers than can collect in a tax office.

Remember, too, that files can be shared in many ways, and with the power of Link and the QuickBooks® Online Accountant Work tab, the information can be effortlessly shared with your clients and team. Including these files into your workflow is as seamless as you want it and need it to be, and can now cross a myriad of platforms.

Tip 2: Check the process. If you haven’t started this yet, now is your last chance. Look back over 2017, see what didn’t work and check the process. Remember how fun it wasn’t, and fine tune that workflow or procedure.

December is my only quiet-enough opportunity to fine tune my process – and I do just that. I am constantly reviewing processes throughout the year, but I look forward to the eye of the storm in December to finalize and implement the items to fill in the gaps.

I had breakdowns in my workflow this year that I do not want to repeat. Right now, I am putting the finishing touches on the solutions I found. This included reviewing apps in use, ditching some of them and adopting others, and an email server change to a more unified platform. I am grateful to be in the cloud and am impressed how far integration has come using the cloud. In all my processes in my firm, ProConnect Tax Online and QuickBooks Online Accountant play a key role, and have remained the most stable and adaptable platforms I use.

Tip 3: Recharge and take care of you. Relax and spend time with family and friends. For a lot of us, we are strangers to these people during tax season – and often throughout the year. Take time for you as well. Do all those things you’ve been putting off, and above all else, do something fun!

Good luck in 2018!

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