Thursday, March 8, 2012

Top 10 Ways to Manage Tax Season Stress

Tax season for me was always like a marathon, beginning in mid February and crossing the finish line on April 15. It was long hours, lots of coffee, and plenty of stress. I remember working late nights as the deadline approached and then around 10:00 p.m. on April 15 the managing partner would gather up all of the extensions for those returns we just didn’t have time to complete and made a mad dash for the local post office. So following is my top ten list of ways to reduce or at least manage your tax season stress.

1. Get rid of bad clients. Fire those clients that are not profitable, never have their information to you on time and usually cause you the most stress. We all have them, so do it now before tax season begins.

2. Organize your office. Having a disorganized workspace will only add to your stress, especially when a client calls and you can’t quickly find his or her file.

3. Hire a personal assistant. Having someone who can run errands for you will significantly reduce your stress.

4. Exercise and eat right. You will find that if you eat three healthy meals a day and exercise regularly you will reduce your stress and actually be more productive. But you have to do it consistently.

5. Get to the office early. Come in to the office thirty minutes to an hour before regular office hours. Use this time to get your day organized, respond to e-mail or do research while the office is quiet.

6. Take short breaks. Meditate for five or ten minutes, stand up, do a few exercises or take a walk around the block and just relax. Don’t think about work.

7. Prioritize your tasks. Time consuming but relatively unimportant tasks can consume a lot of your day. Focus on those returns that you can’t delegate to a junior staff person. Don’t jump from one return to another. Try to finish one before you start the next.

8. Set client deadlines. Manage your clients don’t let them manage you. Work on the returns of those clients who meet their deadlines. If the client doesn’t have their data to you when requested, file an extension. Don’t work till midnight to complete the return for a client who did not get his or her information to you when requested.

9. Finish before the deadline. Schedule your clients so that you have time to complete their returns a day or two before April 15. This is a built-in cushion for any unexpected problems and should reduce your level of stress created from last minute crises.

10. Make April 16 and/or April 15 an official holiday. A firm I once worked for made April 16 an official firm holiday. I always looked forward to that holiday as a chance to unwind and think about nothing relating to work.

So, put your running shoes on, see which of these suggestions you can use to reduce your stress level, and look forward to a less stressful tax season.


  1. That’s great! I really enjoyed your blog throughout all the time I have spent on it! Thanks for sharing such an informative with us. I am really acknowledged by the content provided by you on this blog and I hope to see some more achievements from your blog that’s why I am going to bookmark it right now.
    tax & accounting

  2. Thanks Kelly. Glad you ejoyed the blog.