In this world full of uncertainties, there are a very few things that remain constant but one of them is taxes. They say it’s the hardest thing to understand. It sure is. As we all know, the U.S. tax code is so complicated that even experienced tax professionals struggle to understand some parts of it. Not to mention the modifications or revisions that take place each year.
Staffing Challenges for Tax Preparation Businesses
If you’ve been running your tax preparation business for quite some time now, you already know its ins and outs. One of the biggest challenges that businesses face today is hiring the right personnel. In fact, according to the 2017 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues survey, hiring and retaining talent is among the top five problems of tax and accounting firms. And it holds true even in the tax preparation industry.
Stay-at-home workers (freelancers) as well as retirees have always been the primary candidates. However, with more and more people preferring permanent, full-time jobs than seasonal ones, getting a part-time role at a tax firm may not be as appealing for them.
Of course, you want the best people in your team. You want well-trained, experienced tax specialists who will help grow your business by creating a huge stream of satisfied clients.
Investing in the right people should be your top priority if you’re looking to grow your business. This should not be a problem since a tax prep business requires little start-up cost to begin with because you won’t be needing expensive equipment. If you’re in need of additional funding to purchase, say, tax preparation software or basic office supplies, personal loans online may suffice. It may also be enough to support your recruitment needs.
So how do you find the right candidates? It all starts by asking the right questions.
Does the candidate meet state and federal qualifications?
It’s not enough that a person has knowledge of tax laws. Basic requirements for a tax preparation specialist include having a high school diploma and an on-the-job training. They should also seek voluntary certifications from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The qualifications are even broader for certain tax specialists whose roles involve more than preparing taxes, such as tax accountants and lawyers. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though federal requirements are the same and change less often, state or locality requirements differ and are modified from time to time. It is important to hire a tax specialist who is highly knowledgeable about the local tax laws where you are offering services.
What kind of tax specialist do I need for my company?
Tax specialists can have many roles, depending on their area of focus and qualifications. Some specialists concentrate on tax planning wherein they advise clients about ways to reduce their taxes, for example. Others are focused on tax compliance – preparing and submitting tax forms. They primarily deal with individual taxpayers. These people may seek guidance in understanding tax matters, such as what items are considered deductible and what are not. Even though individual taxpayers are most likely to fill out basic forms, their tax situations could vary.
Tax specialists who are certified public accountants or lawyers are usually involved in business decision-making and recommend strategies that could reduce or eliminate certain taxes. They are the best people to handle enterprise accounts as well as individual accounts with complex tax situations. Hire a certain specialist based on your need. If you are an established tax preparation business, you may need to hire different tax professionals who specialize in certain areas.
What’s his/her experience?
Just like any other business owner, you are looking for personnel who have the proper background and experience. This makes the entire process easier for you and for your clients. Tax laws aren’t something a person can master overnight or after a few weeks. The ability to address problems quickly and deliver excellent results are a product of many years of experience. Of course, if you will be hiring mostly tax preparation specialists, it is certainly fine to hire newbies since you can easily train them as long as they meet certain requirements and qualifications. But if you’re looking to add higher tax roles in your growing tax service company, it is worth looking at your candidates’ credentials.
Does the candidate have the personal qualities that make a good tax specialist?
First of all, an ideal tax specialist should be good at solving problems. Most people who seek services from tax preparation companies have issues with their tax situations. Thus, the specialist assisting them should be quick to respond, knowledgeable, detail-oriented, and able to work accurately. More importantly, he or she has to have excellent communications skills.
Tax specialists have a tough job of making tax laws easy to understand for ordinary people. They should have strong interpersonal skills too. Taxes are private matters that an individual entrusts to your company. Thus, your staff should be personable and accommodating to make clients feel comfortable. As with any industry, customer service should be a top priority.
Hiring a specialist for your tax preparation business is no easy job. You’re likely to find the best people to join your team by taking time to assess their qualifications, experience and background, and considering their technical and personal qualities.