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Accountants and Financial Planners: 3 Things to Do Today to Avoid E&O Lawsuits This Year

13. January 2014 08:27

Fresh lunch food on an office desk

The start of tax filing season is just around the corner. And thanks to the 16-day government shutdown last year, the IRS has pushed back the official start of the 2014 filing season yet again – accountants and financial planners cannot start filing 2013 tax returns until January 31, a full 10 days after the originally scheduled start date.

This means that accountants and financial planners have less time to do the same amount of work – a full day less, even, than last year’s tax season, which began on January 30 after delays due to the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA).

Accountants and financial planners know how significant one day of lost work is during filing season, never mind ten. And when your office is at full capacity, the opportunity for mistakes and oversights – and the resulting Errors and Omissions lawsuits – increases.

So before you and your employees find yourselves in the midst of filing season 2014’s death grip, take the time to prepare yourself for the stress and strain.

Below are three tips to act on today that can help your accounting, tax preparation, or financial planning firm avoid costly E&O lawsuits in the coming year.

1. Take Note of 2013’s New and Changed Tax Provisions

With the time crunch and 2013’s new and changed provisions, tax professionals are bound to hit a few hiccups. By now you may be having flashbacks to last year, when the IRS waited until January 1 to release an onslaught of crucial individual and business-related provisions related to the ATRA.

This year’s IRS release includes a list of new and changed provisions to get acquainted with before the end of this month. Many of these provisions affect higher-income taxpayers. Highlights include:

For more information on new, changed, or expiring provisions, check out the Journal of Accountancy’s “Buckle Up for Tax Season” and the publication’s annual Filing Season Quick Guide, which outlines several of the most commonly consulted thresholds, tax tables, credit amounts, and other important information.

2. Prepare a Plan to Keep Your Accounting or Financial Planning Office Energized and Healthy.

When you and your employees are stretched thin, mistakes are more likely. You can try to combat the burnout blues in your office by making sure to actually schedule time into your busy days to relieve stress and manage health. (Doing this can also help you manage your Workers’ Comp costs!)

A few minutes of relaxation each day can help promote productivity and help ward off illness and mistakes. The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) details several “busy season survival strategies” on its website, and we’ve highlighted a few below to help you get started on your office’s tax-season wellness plan:

3. Take Advantage of the Time Management Tools You Already Have

As an accountant or financial planner, it’s likely that you already have a plethora of organizational and time-management tools at your disposal. But as filing season 2014 nears, it’s never a bad idea to take stock of these tools and plan to use them to your advantage during the season.

Below are a few tried and true tricks, adapted from Accounting Web, to help get your wheels spinning:

For more time-management tips and tricks, check out “66 Time Management Tips to Help You Survive Busy Season” on the Accounting Web website. When your office is organized, important tasks and top priorities are less likely to be overlooked. 

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Accountants & Bookkeepers | Small Business | Tips for All Small Businesses

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