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Topics: Industry, Outsourcing, Tax

Tax Season Mental Health 101 for CPAs

6 MIN READ | Posted on February 11, 2022
Written By Shweta Pandey

Outsource Tax Preparation - mental health 101

The problem with tax season is its overwhelming nature. You can say to yourself you have taken on the tax season numerous times and won, but the season still can give you sleepless nights, season after season. 

Undoubtedly, the tax season is the busiest some CPAs will be in a financial year. And, it has critical business importance in terms of the revenue generated. Everyone wants to do more: prepare as many returns as possible, increase productivity, and therefore increase revenue. The season is like a race wherein everyone wants to come first, but quite obviously, not many people can leverage its potential to the hilt.

Practical CPAs who know they cannot go beyond a certain number of taxes, outsource tax preparation to build capacity. They do this early in the tax season to handle all work coming their way with ease. The search for a tax outsourcing partner begins before the tax season kicks in and the outsourced tax professionals are brought on board in readiness for the onslaught of work coming their way.

All Hands-on Deck but What about Mental Health

Yes, the tax season is a race, but you need to consider the toll this race will take on your mental and physical health. If you don’t do this, you are in for a ride that can take you to a place you don’t like – a place characterized by anxiety, stress, sleeplessness and wherein you are just one step away from a nervous breakdown.

The problem is -expectations. CPAs expect to do well in the tax season and are prepared to stretch themselves and their team to the limits. Every available hand is pressed into service and scalability is the need of the hour. But, scalability cannot happen in a flash. It takes time. Also, scaling your team or building capacity doesn’t mean you ask them to do more (which is typically what happens).

Say you have a CPA firm with 5 tax experts. Come the tax season; their 8-hour day job becomes a 12-hour job. This isn’t creating scale. This is creating a scenario tailor-made for increasing mental stress and anxiety. 

You don’t want to take this route. There is an only disaster here and that too of your making. 

You want to take a different route to ease the pressure on your team in the tax season and still increase productivity.

Accounting is a high-pressure job at any given point in time, and putting more pressure on you and your team isn’t going to cut it for you. 

So, the BIG question is this – how do you balance the need to improve productivity and at the same time ensure mental peace for your team in Tax Season 2022. Yes, tax outsourcing is an answer, but we will come to that later. 

Let’s talk about your team first and its mental health. We already have an article on sound mental health of CPAs in the tax season. Do give it a read. 

This one has a different take on it.

The March Towards Improved Productivity with Happy Accountants

It’s not that accounting professionals don’t have the mental makeup to handle pressure. They do, and they do it well. It’s just that in the tax season, this pressure goes up many notches higher. And, let’s face it, it is all about the money. It is the bread-and-butter season, and you want to get the most out of it. We get it, and it can get pretty crazy.

But the key here is to think about the human angle. Even if you don’t outsource tax preparation, and think of it as a solution to handling that huge amount of work, you still need to plan better for the tax season.

This doesn’t just mean organizing your tax preparation better and making sure you have all the information you need – the amount of work and information about this work so that you can delegate better.

It also means talking to your team to address problems they typically encounter in the tax season from the work pressure perspective.

So, here’s something you can do:

Set Up Regular Team Meetings

 So, this isn’t work-related at all. These meetings should be about understanding how your team members are coping with the work coming their way and whether they are sorted mentally. Ask them if they are facing any issues related to anxiety and stress, and if they are, it is essential to manage this collaboratively.

You need to plan such meetings in a way that your team opens up about their problems. There might be a case wherein a late night has led to the team member not having breakfast with the family. Or sleeplessness has made some members of your team extremely irritable, and they are taking this out on their family in different ways. And they feel guilty about it. Now, you are not a psychiatrist and you don’t need to go deep into their problems, but you could still try and give them some time to sort them out. 

Let them know it’s ok and that you and the other team members have their back.

Me Time is a Stress Buster

Make sure that your team takes a break. This can be a roster holiday, e.g., in a group of five team members, one or two, which can take a half-day in the middle of the week. This is when they can plan to spend some time with friends and family and just let out steam. It is important to remember that this hasn’t been a good time for us, from the mental scheme of things. We have been through a roller coaster of fear, stress, withdrawal and more because of the pandemic. We are just getting ourselves together and therefore, it is imperative that we can spend more time with the family. An ideal work-life balance should be skewed towards family.

This is difficult in the tax season, but you need to try as a CPA firm owner. You could even send in some surprise dinner their way when they least expect it. Anything that takes’s your team’s mind away from tax preparation goes. 

Don’t Put too Much Pressure on Yourself

We get it. The tax season is super important for your firm as it is for many other firms out there. But there is only so much you can do. And without help, and that is help from the suitable quarters, your chances of scaling your firm are not that high. So, ideally, you need to plan for a tax preparation workload that your team can take up without getting overburdened. A sleepless night or two is ok, but you don’t want things to be that way throughout the tax season.

The question is – will you be satisfied with this arrangement wherein you know you and your team cannot prepare more taxes. The honest to goodness answer is NO. But, do you have a choice? YES.

Outsource tax preparation.

The Relation – Tax Return Preparation Outsourcing and Mental Health

One of the reasons accounting professionals face anxiety and set themselves up for a nervous breakdown in the tax season is the amount of work and the fact that they don’t have any free time. So, the easiest solution here is to free up their time, reduce their workload, but still get more work done.

Sounds like a magic trick, but it isn’t. All you need to do is work with a tax outsourcing firm and send all the tedious work their way while your internal team focuses on the tasks that matter. With outsourcing, you can scale your tax-related services and add more value-added services to the mix, including tax advisory and planning.

What’s more, you can manage client expectations better, which drives client retention—all in all, a win-win for you and your firm.

Shweta Pandey

Creative and enthusiastic, Shweta turned into a marketer for her independent ventures long before she formally joined the realms of QXAS marketing team. Alumni of the University of Delhi and MICA - school of ideas, and with experience in creating content for multiple niches, Shweta now creates content and strategies to chart the changing landscape of the accounting industry.

Originally published Feb 11, 2022 05:02:39, updated Feb 15 2022

Topics: Industry, Outsourcing, Tax


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