How to Deal with Last-Minute Tax Filers Effectively During the Busy Season
Despite the fact that tax deadlines remain pretty much the same year after year, every CPA deals with the same problem during the busy season: Clients who turn things in at the last minute. Not only does this cause additional stress for you and your team, but these clients often expect that you can take care of their return promptly, regardless of whether there are mere days or even weeks until the deadline.
Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable situation, and frequently the clients who do this tend to be repeat offenders, for lack of a better term. So, what are some best practices to help you get ahead of the situation and collaborate better with your procrastinators?
3 Tips to Work with Clients Who Turn in Tax Documents Late
1. Remind them early on of the perils of waiting too long.
One great way to take control of the situation is to remind your last-minute filers that the longer they wait, the greater the chance they’ll lose out on deductions. This is a fantastic way to encourage them to stay on top of handing in their paperwork early and not risk missing deadlines. After all, one of your clients’ major priorities – and, by default, one of your biggest value-adds – is getting the biggest tax refund they can. Missing a tax deadline is a surefire way to wind up with less than they hoped for, as well as a way to run the risk of being financially penalized. They’ll wind up paying 0.5% of the amount of money they owe up to 25% of the full amount. This can be extremely costly, and it’s a situation that’s easily avoided. So, appeal to their wallet. It’s a great incentive.
2. Accept that some clients are always going to procrastinate.
No matter how many incentives you offer or how many reminders you send out (both of which are viable and helpful solutions, by the way), some people are just simply going to be late year after year. By accepting this fact, you’ll reduce your stress levels and rearrange your schedule a bit close to the April 15th deadline to accommodate these clients. Furthermore, it will help you collaborate with them more effectively and keep them satisfied. When they call or send emails stressing over the looming deadline and requesting immediate help, by preparing for these communications in advance, you’ll be able to respond calmly and with empathy. This will help them avoid feeling blamed for waiting too long. Additionally, you’ll be in the right mindset to offer them some solutions that could help them work around the problem, like talking to them about an extension on their filing date.
3. Consider charging clients more for last-minute tax preparation services.
While this option might not appeal to every tax professional, it’s certainly something to think about. Again, appealing to your customers’ wallets is a fantastic incentive, and it’s something you can easily send out in a clear email at the start of tax season or advertise clearly on your website. The price doesn’t have to be sky-high, either. For instance, let’s say you charge $400 for tax prep services. It’s perfectly okay to set a reasonable deadline and let clients know that if they wait until April 1st, for instance, to send in all their paperwork, while you will still accept them as clients (thereby not making it sound like a punishment or making them worry they’ll have to find a new accountant altogether, which would make them panic even more), the cost of your services will go up to $500.
Not only will this compensate you fairly for the extra rush, but it will clearly demonstrate to your clients that they’ll save quite a bit of money by sending things in well before the deadline. Plus, you can work with them on a case-by-case basis. While it wouldn’t be wise to advertise this, when you speak with a last-minute tax filer on the phone, if you feel they have a really excellent reason for being late, you’re welcome to forgo the extra charge. This will demonstrate your empathy and increase your reputation as a reasonable person who’s willing to work with people when they’re in an unavoidable bind.
Expedite How You Request and Receive Client Tax Documents
Dealing with last-minute taxpayers is just part of the job, but there are ways to make your life – and theirs – easier. No matter which of these tips you choose to follow, make sure you take advantage of secure, cloud-based tech solutions to streamline your workflow.
For instance, requesting, receiving, and managing documents is a breeze when you use a document management system (DMS) and client portal for accountants. Use your DMS to send clients – whether it’s one client at a time or a few thousand – a list of exactly what you need and enable them to upload everything securely online.
See why over 2 million users rely on SmartVault to securely share and store their valuable documents. Schedule a demo to get started.
Blog by: Carrie Stemke