Using Tax Preparation to Expand Your Practice
No matter what other accounting or professional services your practice may be providing, offering tax preparation can be a valuable step towards more holistic client service. In order to deliver this service successfully and profitably, begin by assessing your team’s ability to take on additional seasonal workload. Weigh that against the added benefit that your existing clients would receive from having a trusted professional prepare their tax returns.
Some accounting firms view tax preparation as an integral part of their offering, while others make a strategic decision to refer clients out for tax preparation work. If you are considering adding taxes to expand your practice, there are four requirements for success.
Consider additional credentials you would need to present a competent and trust-worthy image. here are a few options beyond the familiar CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and attorney designations.
- Enrolled Agent (EA) – Licensed by the IRS. Must pass a Special Enrollment Examination and a suitability check.
- Annual Filing Season Program Participant – Must obtain a certain number of continuing education hours in preparation for tax season each year.
- Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) Holder – Tax return preparers who have an active Preparer Tax Identification Number can prepare returns but cannot represent clients before the IRS (except regarding returns they prepared and filed prior to December 31, 2015).
Balance educational requirements, examination demands, and continuing education with the potential benefits of attracting more clients. Consider your staff’s qualifications and credentials, as well. Certification path can be technically difficult and time-consuming, so be sure that you have sufficient commitment to follow through.
Reaching out to past clients and to your business network can give you a boost in getting the word out about the new service available through your practice. Don’t neglect your personal network! Whether you connect with other people via a hobby, an outdoor lifestyle, or a sport, be present and open to opportunities.
- Strategic partnerships
Consider connecting with local professional businesses for strategic partnerships. Attorneys and financial planners are just two of the options. Perhaps there is another local tax preparation business that does not wish to take on clients that are a natural fit for you and is willing to refer? Or maybe there is an older tax preparer in the area who is looking to transition out of the business. Explore your options, weigh the risks, and implement diligently.
- Specialty niche positioning
Choosing a niche can position you to be an obvious fit for your ideal clients. Perhaps you want to focus on preparing the tax returns for the employees of a local medium-sized manufacturing business, local doctors and dentists. Choosing a niche can help accountants target their marketing budget and facilitate referrals.
Any time a specialty niche consideration is involved, do your research. Are there other accountants elsewhere who specialize in the niche? Do they appear to be successful? Is the niche big enough to support your practice? Can you reach the decision makers in an efficient manner? Balance the risk of narrowing your “ideal client” pool with the reward of commanding higher fees and potentially spending less on marketing thanks to a highly targeted audience.