Whether you work for an accounting firm or a chain tax preparation company, tax season can be a busy and stressful time. If you’re approaching your first tax season as an accountant or tax preparer or simply trying to envision what your future will be like in a career of accounting, you’re likely wondering what to expect during your first tax season.
A Typical Tax Season for Accountants
For many tax preparers, the long hours and hectic work schedule of tax season begins in February and lasts through April 15, the typical deadline for filing federal income tax returns. The day-to-day work consists of preparing tax returns, but tax preparers may have to see many clients in a day to ensure that all tax returns are completed prior to the deadline. Even experienced accountants consider the time to be chaotic or stressful, so the amount of work could be shocking to any new accountant who makes the mistake of underestimating the challenges of tax season. However, many seasoned tax preparers develop strategies for surviving tax season.
Surviving and Succeeding
Because you will be under a lot of stress during tax season, it’s important to give yourself an advantage from the start. Be sure to get plenty of rest prior to tax season so you start off at your best. During tax season, try to remember to eat healthy, sleep regularly, and exercise. If your body is hungry and sleep-deprived, your mind probably will not be working at its full potential, either. Keeping organized will allow you to minimize distractions and wasted time. Even if you have to work long hours, you can determine whether you work more efficiently early in the morning or later in the evening, and match your extended work schedule to your most productive times of the day. It’s also important to try to keep at least a minimal work-life balance, even during the busy months of tax season, so that you don’t feel constantly stressed and overworked.
A Season of Opportunity
For the most truly dedicated tax preparers and accountants, tax season is not just a time of struggle, but a time of opportunity, according to the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants. By giving the work their all, new accountants can set themselves apart from less motivated peers who are more interested in just “getting by” than in improving their skills. First-year accountants should treat tax season as a learning experience and seek to understand every problem or situation as thoroughly as possible. As a new tax preparer, now is a great time to learn as much as you can and ask questions of experience accountants if you don’t understand something.
Your first tax season as an accountant can be a difficult time, but with proper planning, organization and prioritization, you can not only survive tax season but learn to thrive in it. Take care of yourself make the most out of the challenging experience.