As we wind down from another challenging and unprecedented tax season and start to enjoy the warmer months — dreaming about a beverage of choice in our hand at the beach — here are a few housekeeping tasks to make your upcoming tax seasons more prosperous.
Purge files based on your document retention policy.
You can’t have a clean-desk policy without regular reviews of your firm’s document-retention policy. If you are like me, you can’t focus and perform your best with too much clutter.
Clean out unnecessary documents and review your document-retention policy. If you haven’t already, consider digitizing more files. You, your staff and clients will appreciate the flexibility to pull up files anywhere and anytime. We’ve learned new ways of working this past year and can build from those experiences.
For pointers, check out the AICPA® Tax Section’s Document Retention FAQs for Tax Practitioners and Document Retention Policy Template for Tax Practitioners. Consider consulting with your professional liability insurance provider and/or legal counsel about document retention.
Review your firm’s data security plans.
You should periodically review your data security plan and make tweaks, as needed. Cybercriminals get more sophisticated by the minute, and practitioners need to stay on top of the latest information and security standards. Consider using the AICPA Tax Section’s Gramm-Leach Bliley Act Information Security Plan Template as a guide.
Perform the alphabet soup checkup — PTIN, EFIN and CAF number.
If you haven’t recently performed a checkup on your IRS identification numbers, now is a good time. You are often the first line of defense against identity theft. Unfortunately, criminals not only want your client’s information, but they also want your preparer information. It’s crucial to safeguard and monitor your preparer tax identification number (PTIN), electronic filing identification number (EFIN) and Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number.
Track returns you filed through your daily e-file acknowledgments. It can be a red flag if you receive more acknowledgments than returns filed.
The IRS posts the number of returns filed with your EFIN weekly. You can log in to e-Services, access your e-file application and check “EFIN Status” to monitor the activity.
Sign in to the IRS’s PTIN system and check your account for a weekly report of returns filed using your PTIN.
Step back and revisit your firm’s and career’s long-term aspirations.
It’s been hard to catch our breath the past year and a half. Hopefully, we start to see life get back to normal and can be more deliberate in plotting the long-term success of our firm and our career. Perhaps it means being more strategic with the type of clients or work that we take on, or perhaps we need to be more thoughtful about the technology solutions we implement to stay relevant in the changing tax landscape.
Whatever your vision of success and professional happiness may be, take the time to think about your long-term plans. Your future you and firm will thank you for periodically leaving the day to day to think big picture.
Vacation and vacation again.
Life is too short, and you can’t best serve your clients if you aren’t taking care of number one. Plan ample vacation time to enjoy the things you love.
As always, the AICPA Tax Section is here to help you throughout the year. And, if you think of something we should be doing better or a resource you need now, leave us a note in our Tax Section Suggestion Form.
Cheers to a happy and healthy summer break.