How are you? The past three tax seasons have been brutal. We could easily argue that you are still deep in a never-ending tax season fueled by the pandemic and an IRS that is simply unable to provide the services they have been tasked with delivering.
You deserve acknowledgment for the challenges you have faced and all the things you've accomplished for your clients. At Woodard, we see what you do and we have untold amounts of respect for having the strength to do all that you do. So...
How bad was this tax season?
At the beginning of this tax season, I asked, "How bad will this season be for tax preparers?" Here was my answer,
"My opinion, and take it for what it is worth, is that this season will again be a terrible slog. However, I am hopeful that the effects of COVID will lessen, causing less of an adverse effect on the IRS workforce. So, if the perfect tax season would rate a 10, I would rate last year as a 2/10. This season may be a 4/10."
Although COVID threw a curveball with Omicron, the virus may not have has as high of a direct impact as the prior year. Unfortunately, shifting employment trends such as the "great resignation" and "great reshuffle" continued to affect IRS staffing.
Chronic underfunding has also plagued the IRS for many years. Without sufficient funds, the agency has been unable to update technologies and implement innovative solutions other than reactive ones such as delivering new benefits such as economic impact payments.
Without a doubt, I can say that the rough waters at the IRS have had a negative impact on you this year. I rated the year 4/10. How do you rate it?
What have you accomplished?
According to IRS 2022 filing season statistics ending the week of April 8, 2022, 53,018,000 individual e-file returns were processed by tax professionals. With just over 717,000 individuals holding current PTINS for 2022, each person completed an average of 74 returns before the final week of the season. And that doesn't even include the fact that there are still millions of 2020 returns still held in the IRS backlog - numbering 24,000,000 returns and letters in manual processing just a month ago.
For those of you who did not actively file returns for your clients, you provide support for their tax preparers. Reconciling all accounts, making year-end adjusting journal entries, answering questions, and all of the other year-end and tax-prep tasks all have to be done in addition to your "regular" workload. Because of you, your clients were able to file their taxes.
Now, let's consider all you do beyond taxes - your "regular" workload. These tasks and activities take place all year long, even during the busy tax season. Of course, there are the most routine bookkeeping and accounting basics, but you are often leaned on for so much more than that.
Your clients rely on you to understand payroll tax, sales tax and other business compliance issues. Unfortunately, you can't trust that what you knew yesterday is still the case today, and you definitely can't predict what will happen in the days to come. So you must continually study and research all compliance issues.
You are the first person your clients call on to ask questions about the accounting and bookkeeping tasks they complete on their own. They expect you to answer questions ranging from basic to complex, often asking the same question more than once, and also expect you to provide recommendations to streamline their processes so they don't spend as much time doing the work.
They lean on you to maintain their accounting technology stack, research technology innovations and recommend new technologies. Then they want you to implement those technologies on their behalf and train their team on how to use them.
Whether or not you consider yourself an "advisor" in the sense of advisory work, you really are one. Your clients depend on your recommendations on everything from financial and operational needs to questions about human resources.
And you are your clients' confidant. They trust you with important information about their business and often about their lives.
You are so much more than they even know, and they rarely pay you what you are worth.
On behalf of those clients that don't thank you, the team at Woodard thanks you!
You are amazing. You are strong, You are the backbone that holds our country together.