6 expert strategies for managing tax return season successfully

Spendesk Team

Published on October 31, 2023


Tax season can be a daunting time for individuals, business owners and accounting professionals. 

What makes this period challenging? The complexities of tax laws, the meticulous record-keeping required, as everyone seeks to maximize deductions.

However, you can navigate tax season efficiently and remain stress free by following the right strategies.

In this article, we will provide you with six expert tips on how to navigate tax season successfully.

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6 tips for surviving the US tax return season

The keys to good preparation aren't particularly complicated. Here's how to get ahead.

1. Prepare early

One of the best ways to reduce stress and avoid last-minute mistakes is to start preparing for tax season beforehand. 

The best strategy is to gather all of your financial documents: income statements, expense receipts, investment records; in addition include business records if you're self-employed.

Once you have all of your documents collected, research the latest tax laws and regulations to identify potential deductions and credits that you may be eligible for. 

You can find the latest tax information on the IRS website.

2. Use specialized software tools

Accounting professionals and business owners can streamline their tax season processes by leveraging specialized software tools. 

Accounting practice management software such as TaxDome, Karbon or Canopy can help firms automate workflows and save time on client management, as well as provide secure document storage, client communication tools and other useful features. 

To simplify just a particular part of a firm’s everyday tasks, such as payroll or bookkeeping, business owners can use software like QuickBooks and Xero. 

There are also separate tools available for document management, signatures, email automation and more. But modern accountants prefer using practice management software that has all these features built-in.

3. Embrace tax-saving approaches

Maximizing your tax savings is a fundamental goal during tax season. To achieve this, focus on identifying eligible tax deductions and credits. 

For individuals, common deductions include:

  • Medical expense deduction. You may be able to deduct your medical expenses if they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. This is especially helpful for people who have chronic health conditions or deal with large medical bills.

  • Education tax credits. For example, if you're paying for college tuition you may be eligible for such tax credits as the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

  • Itemized deductions. You may be able to deduct a variety of expenses, such as mortgage interest, state and local taxes and charitable contributions if you itemize your deductions.

There are also deductions related to business expenses, such as:

  • Home office deduction. You may be able to deduct a portion of your home expenses, such as mortgage interest, property taxes or utilities, if you use your home for business purposes.

  • Depreciation. You can spread the cost of certain assets over their useful life. This can be valuable for businesses that own expensive equipment or vehicles.

  • Pass-through deductions. Some businesses, such as sole proprietorships, can “pass through” their profits and losses to their owner’s individual tax returns. 

It’s also a good idea to maximize contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts like 401(k)s or IRAs, which can reduce your taxable income.

4. Seek professional assistance

If you have a complex tax situation, it's best to seek extra assistance. A qualified and experienced tax professional can ensure that you're following tax laws accurately and maximizing your deductions and credits.

Experienced certified public accountants (CPAs) or enrolled agents can provide valuable expertise and ensure that you're following tax laws accurately. Here are some tips on how to find them:

  • Ask for referrals from friends or business associates to find a reputable professional

  • Search online directories that list tax and accounting professionals. Some popular directories include The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and other

  • Find local tax and accounting firms online in your area and contact them to learn more about their services and fees

A trustworthy tax professional can help you avoid potential pitfalls during tax season and save you money.

5. Prioritize stress management and wellness

Tax season can be stressful, especially with strict deadlines and financial pressure. It's crucial to prioritize stress management and wellness during this time:

  • Set goals and deadlines that you actually can accomplish

  • Take breaks throughout the day to remain attentive

  • Delegate certain tasks to alleviate your workload

  • Explore tax software that can automate repetitive tasks

  • Participate in professional networking events to share your experience with peers for fresh insights and emotional support

In addition, such mindfulness practices as meditation or yoga can help you stay relaxed but focused. Taking care of your physical and mental health is essential for maintaining productivity.

6. Adapt and learn

Tax laws and financial management practices are continually evolving — this is why it’s better to be open to learning new things to stay ahead. 

Consider professional development opportunities, such as tax seminars or online courses, to expand your expertise. They often cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Tax law updates: the latest changes to federal and state tax laws and new tax planning strategies

  • Tax preparation and compliance: tips on how to prepare and file tax returns for individuals, businesses and other entities; tax compliance requirements and common tax mistakes

  • Tax technology: tax software overviews and how to use these tools to streamline tax preparation and compliance processes

In particular, here are some educational events worth visiting:

  • AICPA Tax Conference is one of the largest and most comprehensive tax conferences in the United States with a variety of sessions on such topics as including individual taxation, business taxation, estate planning and more

  • NATP’s Taxposium is another popular tax conference that offers various sessions on tax preparation, tax compliance, and tax planning for individuals and businesses

  • Scaling New Heights is a leading accounting technology conference and one of the country's largest gatherings of accountants and bookkeepers 

Staying current in the field ensures that you can adapt to changes and continue to make informed financial decisions.

Bonus tips

Here are some extra tips on how to survive the tax season successfully:

  • File your taxes electronically. This is the fastest and most accurate way to file your taxes.

  • Use secure tax preparation software. This will help to protect your personal and financial information.

  • Keep a copy of your tax return and all supporting documentation for a couple of years.

To sum up

As tax season approaches, remember that there are efficient strategies that will help you survive it:

  • Prepare beforehand

  • Use specialized software tools 

  • Embrace tax-saving approaches 

  • Seek professional assistance 

  • Prioritize your health and use stress management techniques,

  • Adapt and learn continuously 

By following these expert strategies and tips, you can approach tax season with confidence, knowing that you have a well-structured and informed plan for optimal financial outcomes. 

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