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Discussion:After Tax Season

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Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
Since the end of tax season is just about here, I though it might be interesting to ask a non-tax question.

What do you do to 'decompress' after tax season?

- Tim Doyle, TaxAlmanac Moderator 08:31, 16 April 2006 (CDT)

JudyEA (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
I am going to Laughlin, NV on Wednesday for three days :)

Mclubb (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
Going to vegas the 18th to 22nd....

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
I am going to the Bahamas within the next couple of weeks. It is a "working" vacation, but still....I think I will enjoy each and every minute of it. I also want to take a weekend to visit Orlando where my family is. I only live about 2 hours away, but I have been (as most of you) been working 7 days a week. The first 5 days I am usually out of town at client's offices and then nights and weekends, here in my office until I feel I have accomplished enough for the day.

I wish that we all can appreciate ourselves more; especially at this time of year. We need some TLC, some tenderness and just a little bit of laughter.

Hope each of you welcomes each day...it is a gift; but HOORAY!! for the end of tax season that is...hehe

ArchCPA (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
I'm taking two days off just to get caught up on my sleep.

HPTAX (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
I do my gardening and anything else that doesn't involve the phone or computer.

Nola999 (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
I always throw a little party the night of the 15th...17th in this case. Just my part-time staff and close friends and family. Very casual, because I certainly don't have time to plan anything. I do as little work as possible for the rest of April.

JudyEA (talk|edits) said:

16 April 2006
Nola we do something simular, I order thru restaurant on the run and we have our dinner delivered on the last night. It gives you something to look forward to. This year we decided to order from The Claim Jumper. It already is making me hungry since didn't make anything for today. Hope everyone is having a Happy Easter!

Jokadah (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
I'll be taking a couple of weeks off starting Tuesday. Going camping with friend's RV group for three days (it's a 44ft class A with big screen so not tent camping). Alot of fun, games and relaxation. I also plan on reacquanting myself with my dogs(5), catch up on sleep and all of the domestic stuff that has been on hold the last couple of months. Dust bunnies everywhere.

The end of tax season is always very anti-climactic, takes a couple of days to sink in. I'm so used to working seven 18+ hour days that it feels surreal when it is over. I always say that preparing taxes is not for the all, not too many professions have you working that intense for four months.

JudyEA (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
Jokadah, My son is becoming a computer engineer cause he said he will never do to his kids what I did to him. He said he never had a mom for 4 months. I told him at least I worked out of the home and did work my schedule around his school activites as he was growing up.

Actionbsns (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
I'm off to England for two weeks and I'm taking a course at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court where we will talk about almost anything but taxes I'm sure.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
We separate the pros from the amateurs now..  :) yes, *smiling*. Us REAL accountants immediately begin 1st Qtr work, payroll tax filings, March financials, etc. No rest until May.

Then...well, May looks busier than tax season! But it's mostly fun...to Atlanta for a Ransomed Hearts men's boot camp (Wild at Heart, John Eldridge related), to Kazoo, MI to see Phantom of the Opera with my daughter, then to Wyoming to help control the little critters for the ranchers. . .

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
HEHE JR....I am actually doing some 941's and uct-6's this week. Most of my clients, if not done already have been extended so I can do the quarterly financials and the payroll tax returns. I WILL get to the Bahamas (to work) but also to play and to Orlando...do I ever miss my family!!

Klesher (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
Yes JR - I am sitting here with 3 months back up from quarterly's, payroll reports due 4-30, May 10 - personal property tax filings , May 15 990's due for not for profits!

I always welcome this time - it is not the intensity of the last 4 months.

Bonnilou (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
As soon as I can manage to get all the numbers and stats out of my head Ill start writing again! I'm registered for a Writer's Conference soon. May the creative juices flow!!!

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
Ah, gotta love split personalities! While I get paid to do numbers, I love words more...

Kmikeburns (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
Won't do much right away. Lots of extensions and work to catch up on.

First week in May it is off to Route 66 Fun Run. Several hundred cars meet at Seligman Arizona and travel to Kingman the first night and then on to Golden Shores on the California border on Sunday. Put the top down and go.

Deback (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
I just found this forum a few days ago when I finally noticed the link at Intuit's discussion forums. This was my 31st year preparing tax returns--about 730 total returns, down from 765 total last year (due to the availability and increasing popularity of online efiling), and I have no employees. The most I did was 960 returns--all manually--in 1989, the year before I bought a computer and the CPAID software, which was sold to Best (I believe), and then Best sold to Intuit in about 1995 or 1996.

I was done at 12:15 pm on Saturday and closed my office in the home at that time. The day after the 15th is always my favorite day of the year, but I'm always too exhausted to enjoy it. As always, I rest for a day or two after spending the night of the 15th at the local casino playing keno machines, and then I'll start in with lawn work, cleaning the house, and doing whatever else I decide to do. Each year after tax season, my interests seem to be a little different, but I love having lots of freedom during these coming nine months (except for the two days each month that I do my regular monthly accounting work--about four hours or less on those two days--and about 10 more tax returns to do throughout the next few months). It always feels like getting out of jail when it's over. And, of course, I always dread when January arrives. But I wouldn't want to change anything, except at almost age 54, I'm wondering how many more years I can keep up the fast pace for three months.

Lalva (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
I am not exausted at all since I didn't have many clients this year. I didn't even answer the phone on the weekend. I am done!

I am looking forward to do things around the house. Do a few oil paintings and start studying for the EA test. I would like to know what worked for those of you who passed the test in recent years. What books did you buy?

Warren (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
Deback - My hat is off to you. I do about 450 tax returns myself during the season and I don't see how I could do even 10 or 20 more. I'm 48 and I'm also think "how many more years can I do this for 3 months?" I am absolutely spent mentally and physically by April 15th.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

17 April 2006
I don't understand how you guys can do this, and have a real life, anyway. Maybe you don't. I do about 250 along with my usual monthly business, and I could handle a couple dozen more now with good software, efiling, etc. But 700?? Or even 450? Ten weeks..45 each week, 9 each day with weekends off. Need a lot of 'twinks' the easy ones, you know...

Warren (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
I don't take weekends off. I worked every day from January 16th through April 15th except for one Sunday in February. Between 90-105 hours a week. So I don't have a life at all for 3 months. This is the third year that I've done it solo (my partner retired 3 years ago). It's a killer for me and I honestly don't want to do it more than a couple more years.

Dennis (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
You guys have not a clue. When I first started, the cost of a photocopier was prohibitive. We did returns in pen, the forms stapled together with sheets of carbon paper in between. The first CPA I worked for refused to use a calculator. Said it was too slow.

Deback (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
Here's a little history of my tax preparation career, for anyone interested:

From 1976 through 1985, I prepared returns in clients' homes, carrying a briefcase, using a pen, carbon paper (and a clipboard to hold the forms together), and a battery-powered calculator (how I loved that calculator and really hated to see it die several years later). I also worked full-time for the State of Michigan as an accountant, and by the end of tax season in 1982, after preparing about 250 returns, I knew I had to make a choice. I chose to retire from the State in September 1982 and became totally self-employed, also doing monthly accounting for a few clients, which continued to expand as the years went by. By the end of tax season in 1985 (when I was still driving to clients' homes), I knew I had to make some changes, so I bought a bi-level house in the town I grew up in, set up an office in the lower level and have been here ever since. That's when I bought a copy machine and set up hours from 9 am to 9 pm, Monday through Sunday. I actually worked until 1:00 to 2:00 am every day of the week and only took one or two Sundays off in late March (but part of one of those Sundays was spent driving to a blind client's house and picking up his stuff). When I got up to 960 tax returns (manually) in 1989, I knew I had to make some changes, so I bought a computer on 9/1/89 and started using software and a laser printer the next tax season. For the first two or three years, I didn't think I was saving much time compared to preparing them manually (I was fast with the calculator, the pen, and the copy machine--and about 99.5% accurate), but each year, the software got a little better, especially after Intuit bought out the company I was using in 1995 (Best and CPAid prior to Best). Intuit has had the best software of all three software companies I've used. Each year, their program has gotten a little better, and my hours have been reduced drastically because of it. Back in the late 90s, I shortened my "open" hours to 10 am to 8 pm, Monday through Sunday, and then 11 am to 7 pm, Monday through Saturday, and in 2004, I shortened the "open" hours on Saturday to 11 am to 5 pm. Since 1996, I've also been able to quit earlier at night, and in the last two years, I've worked a few nights in the first half of February until between 9 and 11 pm. In March and April, I've quit at 7 pm almost every night and haven't worked any Sundays in March and April in the last three years or so. In 2005, I changed my answering machine message to say: "If you need to talk to me, please call back after 11 am." This has reduced the callback messages each day down to about 0. The average tax return takes me about 20 minutes. I have many that take less time and many that take an hour or more. For the last three years, I've been efiling all tax returns (due to the new Michigan requirement for the 2003 tax year), and this has saved me a lot of time by not having to print and compile the originals to be sent in. Here's how my system works: In January and February, I make appointments every 1/2 hour from 1 pm through 7 pm and prepare most of those clients' returns while they wait. When they arrive early (they all arrive 10 minutes early because they "don't know how long it will take them to get here"), I have a waiting room for them to wait in. I rarely get behind in my appointment schedule. I also accept drop-offs and mail-ins during those months. In March and April, I accept returns by drop-offs only, either in the drop box on my porch, mailed to me, and brought into my office. I'll take the time to answer a few questions (or ask a few questions, if the client is new) when the client drops off, but I make no actual appointments in the last two months. I have to make a lot of calls in March and April to obtain the information they forgot to bring to me. I'm constantly busy from January 16th through April 15th, since I'm the only one here to answer the phone, handle the pick ups and drop offs, prepare the tax returns, pull folders, and file folders. I also dust and sweep my office when it needs it. I have a roommate who likes to cook, so I don't have to do that very often, but there have been many years when I've had to live on bologna sandwiches and potato chips (when I had five minutes in between appointments to eat). This year, my roommate was unemployed, so she also got groceries and made my bank deposits every week, and kept the house fairly clean, so I only had to wash my clothes every Sunday. Well, I guess that's all.  :)

Deback (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
A few more things. When I drove to clients' homes from 1976 through 1985, I didn't prepare all of them in their homes. Some I had to take home and mail back to them. Also, I've opened at 11 am for the last few years, but in the last two years or so, I started working sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 most every day, especially in February, instead of working later at night. I usually have half of the returns or close to 400 done by around February 20th. Many of the returns after that are larger returns. I prepare about 18 to 20 per day through the end of February (including about 10 or so on Sundays) and about 6 to 12 every day (excluding Sundays) in March and April. It usually takes me until the first of June to feel normal again. I hope you all have a great nine months off!

Lalva (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
Deback, is this your only job?

How did you do your marketing? I guess a lot of clients are referrals now, but how was in the beginning? And Warren, where do you live? I would love to partner with someone like you to take part of the load, get experience and if you decide to retire take over your practice...

Deback (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
Lalva - Yes, this is my only job, including some monthly accounting and payroll work, in which I quit accepting new monthly clients about 11 years ago. I had about 24 monthly clients then and am now down to four monthly accounting clients and four monthly payroll clients. When I first started preparing tax returns in early 1976, I put one ad in the local shopping guide and ran that for several years during the tax seasons. I think I also put up an ad in the local laundromat during the first year. In the last 10 years or so, I've run the ad in the same shopping guide about every other year, except I haven't advertised at all in the last three years, except for the listing in the telephone book that's been listed since I moved into this house in late 1985. Yes, a lot of clients are referrals and have been from the start. I was working full-time for the State, so this was part-time when I first started. The first year I did 35 returns, the second year I did about 51 (can't remember exactly), and then it kept increasing each year for several years until I did 960 in 1989. During the last few years, I've stayed at about 770 returns each year, until this year. The decrease down from 960 started when the IRS eliminated income averaging, sales tax and interest deductions, and started increasing the standard deductions at a faster pace. Each year, I lose about 100 and gain about 100. Many of the losses are due to death, those who no longer have to file returns, and those who decide to prepare their own returns. I live in a small town with a population of about 2,400, near Lansing MI, and surrounded by several other small towns and cities and rural areas.

Lalva (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
Congratulations on your thriving practice!!!

I hope I can have one like yours one day...

MMtoEA (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
Lalva, I found a CD-ROM from www.fastax-ea-exam.com to be hugely helpful in studying for (and passing) the EA exam. You might also consider taking an in-person course. H&R Block has offered them in the past, and I know that several other reputable providers exist. You can probably get a list of course providers from your state EA society, or from NAEA.

Good luck!

Jokadah (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2006
Wow, Deback it sounds like you have this down to a science. I use Lacerte and print out and complete organizers for every client. I copy all of their back up (W-2's, 1099's, 1098's etc.) At some point I though it was kind of replicating efforts for complete organizer and then enter data into computer. But this is the way I've done it and old habits die hard. How does everyone else process their clients. I know some preparers don't copy client back up and it does create a lot of paperwork not to mention the time to photo copy it all. (Several years ago a client took me to small claims court because she said that I failed to report her unemployment. With my copies of her organizer and back up, I was able to prove that she never gave me a copy of her unemployment earnings.) How do you protect yourself? I have also referred back to these copied documents this year couple of seniors did not remember receiving 1099DIV's and I was able to give them a copy from '04 to call and receive. What about reviewing returns for errors? What type of review does every do? Just wondering what I could do to streamline things, but never in my wildest dreams could I ever do 770 returns by myself.

Lalva (talk|edits) said:

19 April 2006
I found ProSeries a little redundant in that prints the information in the W2 (and other documents) for each one and then the sumary. But on the other hand this is a good thing for what you just said, so I don't have to copy it. I review the return for SS# and amounts and review it again when I explain the return to my clients so they understand what I did. This works well since if there is something missing maybe they will find it out. Or if they forgot to give me something they will say it. After the review I talk a bit about tax planning, about what they can do to reduce the next year taxes.

I wanted to get insurance but I haven't found it yet. Any sugestions?

Towntaxlady1 (talk|edits) said:

19 April 2006
Congratulations, Deback and Warren, on your 29th and 31st years in "the business"! But what's this about being only 54 years old and wondering how long you can prepare taxes?!? Why, you're just a "snip of a child"! I just celebrated my 70th birthday, right in the middle of the Tax Season, and my 30th year in "the tax business" .... Sleepily and quite exhausted, I woke up on the morning of the 18th and reminded myself: "Life just doesn't get much better than this!" Of course, I was looking at my tickets for my upcoming Carribean Cruise!

Warren (talk|edits) said:

19 April 2006
I'm 48 and plan to practice about 9 more years. If I said that I'd been in practice 31 years it was a typo. I graduated from Fresno State (Calif) in 1985 so it's 21 years for me. I plan to slow down a little (either hire someone or turn loose of a few clients) after probably 2 more tax seasons. My problem is my practice is just too seasonal. Close to 450 returns during tax season and probably less than 40 the rest of the year. The 8+ months of slow time is nice but the tax season period is just too much and there isn't an easy way to smooth it out. My wife and I have planned for retirement in 9 years and there is no financial reason to work beyond then.

Taxal (talk|edits) said:

20 April 2006
Geezzz Deback!!, your production is awsome! How do you do an average t/r in 20 mins?? I can get it onto the computer from the clients back up in about that time, but to print, collate, attach W-2s, address envelopes, add notes and then address an envelope with proper postage to mail all takes a lion share of time. What's your secret(s)?? Hat's off to you!!

Www.cpa1.biz (talk|edits) said:

20 April 2006
Hey you all.

I just left my firm b/c I did not get the feel that I was being recognized and I helped out way more than I should have. I have now started my own firm. Unfortanately, it is after tax season. Luckily , I had maybe 10 clients. Yup! only 10 clients but I am on my way of creating a nice website myself and working the advertising to do extensions, outsourcing, and financial statements. Do any of you have tips on how you got your clients when you first started. I hope everyone enjoys the sun this week because I know I am now that I am working on my own.

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

20 April 2006
Lalva - Liability insurance is a must in my opinion. Claims for individual taxes are ~30% of all liability claims reported. For corporations, the number is ~34%. That's a whopping ~64% of all liability claims! (This information is available to members at www.cpai.com.) My insurance is through AON, which is recommended by the AICPA. Even if you are not a CPA, you should be able to get liability insurance.


Www.cpa1.biz - networking has been most effective for me. In addition to talking with other CPAs and business advisors, I am a member of several business organiztions. Most of my clients are referred to me by other people.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

20 April 2006
I've got a split personality, WWW.cpa1.biz...no surprise to the others around here. So I was in sales for ten years (accounting/small biz) and that's where I learned tax. My company only wanted a certain client, so with their permission, I took all the rest! Get out on the streets, talk to small biz owners...and you get lucky eventually. And network, network, network. Join stuff, show up for meetings, make sure everyone you know knows what you do.

Lalva (talk|edits) said:

20 April 2006
JR1, that's a good advice. I got 5 clients through referrals on my tiny practice (15 so far).

Just doing a good job for your clients will bring you new ones... Also I donated a free tax return in my children auction fund-raising and I hope that whoever buys it will like my services and become clients. And yes, tell people what you do!

Warren (talk|edits) said:

20 April 2006
Or you could buy an existing practice. It's more expensive but you have instant results. I began working as an employee for a CPA, became a partner after 15 months (although salaries were not equal immediately), and eventually bought out his remaining equity when he retired. It was a good way for me to do it. Different ways work for different people depending on your personality and what you are comfortable with. I think networking, joining groups like Rotary, giving tax talks to various groups, etc are excellent ways to get clients but for the most part that is not what I'm personally comfortable with.

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