There are ebbs and flows to life that we all experience through a calendar year that can make the days or weeks busier than we could ever imagine, or lag by so slowly it’s like time is going backwards. As you can guess, that time of year for us is our beloved tax season. What people might not know, though, is tax season starts long before January 2.
Starting in about late November, we start prepping for the onslaught that is tax season by stocking up on paper, ink cartridges, order W2 and 1099 forms, download the new tax program, brush up on new tax law, prepare our tax packages, and send our newsletter to clients. Meanwhile, we’re wrapping up bookkeeping, running the last bit of payroll for the year as well as year-end reports. So, the stress of the season starts long before the beginning of the new year.
Bam! Tax season is upon us before we know it, and here’s how it goes; picture it, mid-January, the office of Accounting Outside the box.
The first tax documents for the current tax year start trickling in with the hopes that information can be filed quickly with the hope of getting a refund. That’s correct to an extent. We work on a first come, first serve basis (we just can’t promise refunds). So what exactly is the process, you may ask?
Let’s break it down so that the travel plan of the mysterious tax return is no longer mysterious. Crazily enough, it’s like booking a flight.
Step 1: Booking the Flight Reservation
- For us, ‘booking your flight’ means bringing in or uploading your tax documents as a complete package-no missing pieces-well before your ‘departure date,’ meaning the April deadline. Please keep in mind that ‘early booking’ equates to getting ‘the best seat,’ also known as filing early and therefore getting your potential refund earlier.
- As with booking your trip, make sure that all your belongings adhere to flight regulations; make sure you’ve gone over your documents in the event there are changes to avoid surprises that’ll hold up the filing process.
- Tax law changes every year to some degree, so if you’re not sure something is tax related or not, include it in your package just in case.
Step 2: Know Factors Could Delay Travel
- Technical and mechanical malfunctions can delay boarding/taking off like programs and software issues can delay input on returns. In order to ensure everything we do is the best possible work, we make it a priority to have all of our programs and software up-to-date and in working order. Unfortunately, technology doesn’t always cooperate, and technical issues can happen that delay things, just like burned out plane headlight can keep a plane grounded until it’s changed.
- Also, bad weather can keep flights grounded just like bad weather can keep us from making it to the office, potentially delaying the filing of returns. (i.e. snow and ice storms).
- Further, we all know how challenging it can be when it comes time to board the plane. Excited and anxious people all get in line and bottleneck at the check in and doorway, making it challenging to efficiently get on the plane and seated. The same thing happens in the office when mid-season, everyone comes into the office with their tax packages for a massive influx of returns to work on all at once. Like first class seating gets to board and sit comfortably, so do the returns that come in early rather than being held up in line.
Step 3: Take off and Physical Travel
- Once the plane takes off, the flight attendants are there to help you for whatever needs you may have. Feel free to ask us questions, but keep in mind other people are asking questions and for assistance as well. This is also true for tax offices.
- Depending on your destination, the travel time could be significant, so it’s best to get comfortable, relax, and let the flight attendants take care of everything. If your return has quite a lot going on, it’ll take us longer to go through the information, enter your data, double check the work to make sure it’s correct, and ensure you’re getting the credits due to you. We are the attendants here to take care of everything and need the time to do so.
Step 4: Landing and Filing
- You know we’ll be close to landing/finishing your return because we as the flight attendants will ask if there’s anything else we can do for you; i.e. ask you any final questions we may have about your tax information.
- Once landed and at the terminal, please safely and efficiently grab your belongings and make your way to the exit. Picking up your return quickly after signing helps with the overall tax season run smoothly by not having to hold onto people’s ‘luggage.’
Travel Notes to Keep in Mind
As always with traveling, there are things to keep tucked away in the back of your mind about traveling. For instance, sometimes flights get overbooked and people get bumped to the next flight. When there’s a mass influx of returns coming in to all be worked on at the same time, sometimes people get bumped to extensions, particularly if they came in after our deadline. Turbulence can make flights a little rocky as opposed to sailing smoothly. We work on multiple returns at a time, especially when there’s a roadblock we encounter with one return or are waiting on questions from another client.
As always, our goal is to make sure tax season can be as painless for our clients as possible and that the return gets filed without a hitch. We do our best to avoid turbulence and delays, but unfortunately, we haven’t figured out how to control the universe yet. (But we’re working on that part!)
Just like the attendants, we want to send our guests off with a smile, perhaps a high five or a handshake, and wish our guests a happy voyage on their trip. Hopefully this helps our clients understand the process of filing a little better and make it all a little less ambiguous!
Until next time, bon voyage!