I have been through many tax filing seasons. Some years were tougher than others; be it adjustments to the tax code, technology snafus, even poor weather. But this past season was the most difficult I recall. That was true of the work itself but also interactions with confused clients. Try as we might to get out in front of those that had balances due, many of our clients were surprised by the results when we completed their returns. Reading the financial press, it seems anecdotally that we are not alone in our assessment of this past filing season. Here are my takeaways from the filing season and some ideas to make certain the struggles don’t reoccur next winter.
- While total tax burdens were generally lower across the board, withholdings were often ALSO lower. This sometimes led to clients being significantly underpaid in spite of the tax reductions.
- In spite of the promise of tax simplification, returns continue to get more and more complex. The number of forms, schedules and calculations now required to prepare even moderately complicated returns continues to escalate.
- Tax filing season continue to become more compressed. This is due to late arriving tax forms, late IRS form releases and the corresponding later releases by my software provider.
- Our continued leverage of technology solutions was embraced and utilized. This includes our website interface, adoption of SmartVault file sharing system, utilization of DocuSign, and several other changes. Kudos to Emily for spearheading our transition into a more digital client experience.
For 2019, I recommend communicating with us sooner rather than later particularly if you didn’t like your 2018 tax results. Generally, if nothing is done to your withholding exemptions for 2019 taxpayers can expect this year’s returns to mirror last year. Thus, you must proactively seek an adjustment if 2018 results were not desirable.
Thanks to all of all our clients for a busy and successful filing season and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.