Preparing for tax season 2019

Michael Ohanesian, CPA, MST, Tax Manager – Parr & Associates

October 26, 2018

keyboard with plastic construction workers

Congratulations fellow tax practitioners! Another fall busy season has come and passed. While a break is well deserved, we can’t rest too long. There’s much to do to prepare ourselves and our clients for the upcoming 2019 filing season.  

The passage of The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made significant changes to the tax code that will affect all client tax engagements and therefore all tax practitioners. We also shouldn’t forget about the enactment of the new partnership audit regime, which changes the way the IRS audits and communicates with a partnership. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that on Sept. 25, 2018, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued a report stating that there is a strong possibility that the start of the 2019 filing season could be delayed. Many IRS forms need to be updated, and guidance is still being issued.

Armed with this knowledge, we shouldn’t be discouraged about the potential for a troubling tax season. Instead, we should be prepared for the upcoming known issues and plan to communicate with our clients early and often. This increased face time with our clients should lead to increased revenue. 

Part of the preparation should include all staff members of the accounting firm. All staff should take the appropriate level courses to properly prepare, review and explain the new tax law. Have them take advantage of the AICPA Tax School and webcast offerings to get them on the right track.

Identifying where to start preparing can be difficult. There are a lot of topics to learn, but also a lot of resources available. And luckily, the AICPA Tax Section has us covered there too. The Tax Section created a Tax Reform Resource Center for its members to get prepared and be confident that we’ll be ready for the upcoming tax season challenges.

Resources include options for every type of practitioner, no matter their learning style. The list includes:

  • Tax reform FAQs
  • Guides, tools and templates
  • Tax reform podcast library
  • Recent IRS guidance
  • Current articles from The Tax Adviser
  • Upcoming webinars, self-study courses and conferences

Every staff member should start by learning the fundamentals of the new tax bill. Encourage staff to study the rules, pay attention, learn how to spot the issues and ask questions. While there will be lost billable time while staff learn, preparing now for the upcoming tax season will lead to faster return preparation and review, decreased unbillable time and a happier staff and client base.

Along with getting yourself and your staff up to speed, this is an important time to reach out to your clients.  Time spent planning now and discussing issues and opportunities will pay off when the calendar turns to 2019 and filing season begins.

So, let’s take that vacation, but be ready for what lies ahead. We all deserve the least stressful 2019 tax season possible. However, this can only come with advanced preparation.