Tax season is a crucial time of year for Los Angeles Certified Public Accountants. With the filing deadline of April 15th always looming, the time period from January through April is one where CPAs don’t have the luxury to think about anything other tax prep. For most this could mean the two most important words are not “tax season” but rather “up time”.
It’s during this time period that CPAs look to reap the benefits of all the work done beforehand. Tax season is all about monitoring, maintenance, and stability.
Here are a few things to be thinking about to enjoy a stable tax season:
1. Remember the ‘5 Ps’
It is said that Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance, so long before tax season has hit, you need to make sure you’ve prepared. It falls at the same time each year after all, so you’ve no excuse to go in unprepared. Prior to the start of tax season ensure that your networks and systems have undergone a thorough check and received all relevant updates, all warranties and support renewals are in place, and all old equipment has been retired.
2. Choose the right accounting software
You understand the needs of your business better than anyone else, and you also know how you operate as an individual. To keep your IT running smoothly throughout tax season, be sure that if you’re changing your accounting software, make sure it’s long before tax season starts so that you’ve had time to “burn it in”. This means that you’ve had time to work out the kinks and your staff has had time to become accustomed to it.
3. Update security
During tax season it’s likely that you’ll be handling all kinds of sensitive data, including clients’ bank statements, receipts, and invoices. It’s essential, therefore, to upgrade your security prior to tax season, including running scans, updating firewalls and malware, and installing encryption software if you haven’t already done so.
4. Don’t ignore the warning signs
Computers have a knack of letting us know when something’s amiss, so if you’ve been getting reports, update requests, or diagnostic recommendations it’s perhaps best to do a little investigation. The longer you let a problem linger, the worse it will get, risking the efficiency of your entire tax season.
5. Get organized
There’s a good chance you’re going to be spending a lot of time in front of your computer throughout the tax season, so take an afternoon to prepare for the deluge. Your computer is the best resource you have, so make it work for you; create desktop folders and reminders, organize your emails, and archive anything that won’t need, in order to clear space. This is a great time to get into OneNote if you haven’t already.
6. Be wary
As a professional you’ll know not to take risks, particularly during tax season. Don’t open attachments in unsolicited emails, never fall into the traps set by email phishers, and refrain from accessing sensitive information while you’re logged in to a public access Internet connection. Having control of such a large amount of data may make you and your firm a target for hackers, so be prepared. The best way to protect yourself and your computer from harm is to treat every unknown as a threat – within reason, of course.
7. Back it up
We can’t stress this enough; back everything up. From emails and conversations, to important files and documents, ensure that every ounce of data on your machine and network is accounted for. CPAs have enough data to contend with on a daily basis anyway, but the chances are you’re a little under attack from all corners right now. Make copies and printouts of the things you can’t afford to lose – just in case. And one small item to note - make sure your backups work! If you haven’t tested your backup lately, do it now!
So, there you have it. Although your IT is critical all year long, tax season means the margin of error is even smaller. If you have any questions regarding your IT and tax season, please feel free to give us a call.
Do you do anything special to prepare for tax season? What do you do to get ready? Tell us about your experience with it in the Comments section below.
To follow through on the tips introduced in this article, be sure to download our free guide 12 Ways for CPA Firms in LA to Utilize Technology More Efficiently.