The weeks leading up to tax season are a busy and high-pressure time for any company and meeting important due dates requires a lot of advance planning.
Setting deadlines and proactively gathering the materials you need can put a painless tax season within your reach. Use this timeline to map out your preparation plan for the weeks leading up to your tax deadline, and learn how some of your peers manage their tax tasks successfully.
8 Weeks: Set Reminders
Tax season is all about deadlines. To keep things on track, map out your ultimate delivery dates and then back out from these to create project deadlines. Also, schedule reminders and notifications that prompt you and others to begin each task. Since taxes are information-intensive, advance notice will ensure that people have enough time to gather materials and perform other to-dos.
Once you have a plan for information gathering, set important check-ins and meetings to bring groups together before the tax deadline. Whether taxes are handled in-house or require collaboration from internal and external teams, set these meetings well in advance, since everyone involved will be tight on time.
7 Weeks: Stock Up on Supplies
When you have the right supplies and tools on hand to complete taxes, meeting deadlines is easier. Give yourself enough time to take inventory and place orders for necessary items.
Begin with a list of what your team used in the previous tax year, and ask this year’s tax team if it needs to add anything to that list. Include tax forms, envelopes and supplies like calculators, storage boxes and paper clips.
Mattea, a senior accountant and human resources coordinator at a manufacturing company, bases the current year’s tax prep on last year’s items while taking company changes into account, like the addition of new employees. She also looks at the materials that accountants have requested throughout the year.
“If accountants ask for a certain item that could help during tax time, I jot it down and make sure to ask if they need more when it’s tax time,” Mattea explains. “If an accountant asks for certain information or a specific form during the year, I make a note of it and store a copy in case it’s needed for tax season. This saves me from having to dig around for needed resources in the frenzy of tax-prep time.”
4 Weeks: Do a Dry Run
Practice makes perfect for Tammy, an accounting specialist at a patient services organization.
“About a month before taxes are due, I do a dry run to review vendors and confirm all information is accurate in a spreadsheet that we eventually submit to our tax preparers,” she explains. “This helps me ensure all of the necessary details are correct and that everything is in line before we do the actual submission.”
Getting all of your tax ducks in row before the due date can help you flag missing items while there’s still time to locate them. It also allows you to catch any mistakes that could have led to bigger headaches later.
1 Week: Make Storage Space
Although your company’s taxes have not yet been filed, it’s important to make room now for the documents you are required to store, like employment tax records and other supporting materials. Many of these documents will contain sensitive information, so you’ll need to file them away in a secure location immediately. They may also need to be protected from flood and fire risk.
To file paper copies, plenty of boxes, folders and containers are essential. Now is a good time to determine if there is sufficient space to store paperwork near tax documents from previous years. Having this worked out before you need to store them will prevent you from having sensitive company material sitting around for others to potentially see. If you store records electronically, double-check that you have sufficient computer space. Also, restrict access only to colleagues who need to see these records.
Advance preparation and a methodical chipping away at tasks will slowly but surely move you through tax season successfully. If possible, build time into your calendar for the workload associated with your preparation and coordination duties. Perhaps other projects’ start dates can be moved out a bit, or you can hand off an organizing project to a willing co-worker. This last step can help you to do a great job on your tax responsibilities and still feel good when tax season is over.