We made it through the last tax deadline for calendar 2017!

Well, I just realized it’s been a while since I updated my blog. It’s been a crazy 6 weeks so this update is well overdue. Here’s a recap of what’s been going on in my world.

Picture of an hour-glass in pebbles | Photo by Aron on Unsplash
Photo by Aron on Unsplash

To start, the first 15 days of October were really busy around here. Having the corporate tax return deadline moved to October 15th really changed our historical workflow patterns. I guess it’s human nature to procrastinate so it shouldn’t be a surprise that many of our corporate clients got us their information later than normal. When we would normally be working to complete our corporate client’s returns, we just didn’t have their information. When that information started rolling in, we were already behind the ball in this busy season roller-coaster. This created that sense of urgency to just focus on the next deadline. If you’ve been in the tax field for any length of time, you know that feeling of just worry about the next deadline and then pick up the pieces once it passes.

The September 15 deadline really wasn’t bad and we finally started receiving all the missing information from our clients (both corporate and individual). This is when we had to put our nose to the grindstone to complete all the returns by the 10/15 deadline. We still had or normal workload of extended individual clients to complete, and of course, those that still needed to be completed were generally the most complicated, which is why they were extended in the first place.

I know this is the second year of the corporate tax deadline being moved to October 15, however, last year we had Hurricane Harvey relief so the October deadline wasn’t as “hard” as it would have been and clients weren’t concerned if they finished their returns after the deadline. Also, because last year was the year of the change, last year a lot of clients were still sending us their last pieces of data earlier in the season so it ended up being more similar to prior years. This year they realized they had extra time, and they generally took advantage of the extra time.

Back to this year, it was busy but we made it through the October 15th deadline just fine. However, there were a few returns went out closer to the deadline that I would have liked. As I recall, those returns all had data come in later than normal. I most of these cases, it really wasn’t our fault or the client’s fault, it was just delays throughout the system.

We definitely learned some lessons on the timing of the projects during this season and already have a list of adjustments to make for next year so we can smooth out the process and be more proactive earlier in the year. Hopefully this will prevent a deadline crunch which is beneficial for us and our clients.

As is customary in our office, a lot of the tax department took some vacation time and we also had training so everyone went to a conference right after the October 15th tax deadline. If you saw any of my tweets, you’ll know I went to Colorado for a long weekend. When I was due to come back to Austin, we had major flooding and there was a water boil notice for the whole city. I used this as an excuse to stay up at my Mom’s in Fort Worth and spent a few extra days with her. I was still able to work remotely and actually had the opportunity to meet with some clients who are located up in the DFW area that I rarely get to see in person.

Coming back into Austin at the end of October, we still had a lot of work to do. We had a pretty good amount of tax exempt entities with returns on extensions and extended Texas Franchise Tax Reports to complete. This is usually a smooth process but a number of the 990 clients had delays in getting us their information. It was enough of the clients that it caused a chain reaction of delays in all the returns due on November 15.

Of course, we try to file all our Texas Franchise Tax Reports when we file the federal returns, however, that’s not always possible. Because of the way you have to combine different entities and entity types, some of these Texas Franchise Tax Reports can’t be completed until you finish all the related entities including partnerships, s-corps, regular corps, and disregarded entities reported on personal returns. I don’t think the state’s big wigs realized the technological strain they created when they forced us to combine dissimilar entity types.

This pretty much gets you caught up with what’s going on. There’s definitely nothing earth shattering or unexpected if you’re used to the seasonality of the tax profession. I still intend to do better on a few areas:

  1. Not letting the deadlines sneak up at the end of summer. I want to do better at smoothing out the work load so we’re not stressing at each rolling deadline.
  2. Keeping up with this blog. Believe it or not, this is more of a creative outlet for me and I enjoy writing out my thoughts or doing research on a topic and sharing what I find. I definitely don’t want to go so long between posts.
  3. Improving our firm’s processes and automating or cloud-amating some of our processes and workflows. I think we’re typical for a firm that’s been around 20 years in that we are mostly digital and automated but we still have some legacy practices that could be improved.

Now that we’re done with the last tax deadline for calendar year 2017, it’s time to prepare for next year. This is going to entail many client meetings and calls to discuss tax law changes and projecting their 2018 tax liabilities while there’s still time to make adjustments before the end of the year. We’ve also picked up a lot of new clients so I’ll use this time to roll-up my sleeves to work with them in transitioning their work into our systems and getting a better idea of all the details that we’ll need to cover with them.

I also know we’ll be doing significantly more training than usual to make sure all members of our team are well prepared to address the complications of the tax law changes for the next tax return season.

As for this blog, I’ve noticed the stats show a few posts with unusually high interest. I’m realizing that these posts are on topics that are untouched, so to speak, where I can use this blog to help answer questions or provide additional insight that isn’t easy to find online. If you have ideas of topics you’d like me to cover, don’t hesitate to comment or send me an email.