We now work in an accounting industry that can access the benefits of modern technology to produce some impressive productivity outcomes.
This is great news when you factor in the complexity around staying on top of the annual tax return process. Each year there are key changes and new measures you need to be aware of when completing your client’s tax returns. Our routine processing is in fact anything but routine – each year there are exemptions, deductions and levies to be considered and it’s crucial that accountants plan for every eventuality – after all we are our client’s most trusted advisers.
Just as you also advise your own clients to work through a check list for daily, weekly and monthly accounting tasks, so too can a firm rely on professional end of financial year (EOFY) checklist to achieve streamlined administrative outcomes.
Making use of what we know
Making potential errors as accounting professionals can be avoided with the use of professional EOFY checklists. Checklists can help anyone get the day to day stuff ‘right’ and initiate the open communication you need with clients to deal with annual tax changes and other unexpected considerations.
They are also handy for new members of the team – whatever their level of experience is. Adequate professional checklists not only support the onboarding of new staff but also the onboarding of new clients. Asking clients to prepare ahead of time moves the focus from making sure the basic information is provided, to being able to discuss higher value client concerns such as ongoing tax management strategies for individuals and businesses.
Achieving consistency and efficiencies
EOFY checklists can be ideal for accounting firms with multiple team members responsible for one account. These checklists can be the tool to achieve consistency and efficiencies in customer service delivery throughout all levels of the firm. These lists work because the handful of changes to deductions are clearly itemised and explained. With a professional checklist, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel – the exceptions to the rule even have their own list.
When applied across the practice, we estimate professional EOFY checklists can improve productivity levels around 10 – 15 per cent. No more re-keying lists, skipping steps and training staff in the way to do things.
Enhancing your profitability
Being consistent and efficient with the use of a professional EOFY checklist can even become part of your firm’s IP. This form of document management becomes a quality control tool which can minimise the time you need to spend on routine administration tasks and instead focus on the value-added advice your clients really want to pay for. Re-purposing a professional EOFY checklist means increasing the control of a client’s tax return and the data within it.
What’s in a professional EOFY checklist?
Pre-prepared EOFY checklists can include:
- Client conversation and letter checklists for individuals and small business for year-end tax strategies for personal tax, income, capital gains and losses, deductions, offsets, depreciation and trading stock plus a list of others. Items like low value pools, thin capitalisation, trusts and upcoming tax changes.
- Checklists and client letters for individuals and small business for annual tax deduction changes – for example for the 2016/17-year end changes and an explanation may be provided for travel deductions for residential rental property; plant and equipment; temporary budget repair levy and main residence exemption for foreign residents.
- Examples for small business with tax instalments.
Adding Intelligence to your practice
Apart from the administrative house-keeping benefits of preparing for tax time and managing your client’s tax planning requirements, the information you have at your fingertips in each tax return is invaluable. If you build in a professional EOFY checklist into your routine it can become part of your routine audit controls.
The better the data in your client’s tax returns, the easier it is to make the move away from a transactional relationship with your client, to a deeper and broader advisory relationship.
The time has now come for clients to look to their accountant to be an adviser identifying options, navigating pathways and recommending solutions. In a time that transactional compliance revenues are in decline, accounting firms are needing to demonstrate their value more and more every day.
Check in with your clients with a professional EOFY checklist and optimise your results.
Krista Moore | Director, Marketing and Communications, APAC, Wolters Kluwer