20 Jul 2005
Eileen Reppenhagen, QuickBooks ProAdvisor
Aftermath of this year’s tax season:
This is the time of year when I discover just how much dust is in the back of my computer. How can one machine suck up all that dust? Where does it come from? I had a cleaning lady during tax time. Why is there still so much dust? I don't know what it’s like for you, but this seems to be the start of my tax season aftermath.
Yesterday I ordered 2 new hard drives to replace the dual mirrored ones. My computer has been doing quirky little things for a few weeks now. The number keys stall out just often enough to cause the niggling sense that not all is well. My local Geek Service tells me that 3 years is a good lifespan for a hard drive. The time had come for voluntary action or else I risked a hard drive crash.
I still remember the exact day my computer crashed 3 years ago. I had just completed a back-up on April 30. It took 2 days to re-install everything and another 2 days to restore the data. Whirr, stop, shriek, went the tape drive, distributing a disturbing hot, slightly smoky odor throughout the office. I anxiously watched during the day, didn’t sleep much during the night, and wondered incessantly about the outcome. I am so grateful we now have much more efficient ways to back-up and restore. Offsite storage and online backup systems make this type of thing so much easier!
What else do I take care of during this time of year? I look up from my computer screen and survey my domain. I should:
- Consider ordering a set of disks from the backup storage company just to have a permanent set. Come to think of it, I’ll have the old hard drives. I’ll just call the bank for a larger safe deposit box;
- Replenish supplies…Bankers Boxes, file folders, paper, adding machine rolls, staples and pens;
- Pay my annual dues and insurance to keep my practice in good standing;
- Review my To Do list. Ensure that all projects in the office are on the list and are to be handled in the near future;
- File away everything that is finished after checking that the file has been signed off and dated;
- Cull the T1 files for clients who didn't return and store them offsite;
- Review checklists to ensure that all work is complete, no elections were missed, all T4’s, T3’s or T5’s and T1’s are filed;
- Move completed year end files in the box under my desk into storage. Set up a new box for 2005 year ends;
- Check my ‘Critical Items Box’ (CIB) to ensure that everything is filed away. I must admit to piling important papers that arrived in April on top of the box. If you do not have your own Critical Items Box, you may want to consider one. They come in handy when you’re required to evacuate or recover your business after a disaster. After the floods in Alberta this week, you just never know.
- Clean up the shed...decide what to shred, call the shredding truck. Boxes with files older than 7-8 years should be destroyed. Besides, the shed could topple sideways if much more is added to those shelves... it already happened once. I’d better check that the braces are still holding;
- Consider the various aspects of file storage including logistics, age, and potential for liability; and
- Bring forward all data files into the latest versions of all software as required by CRA’s Electronic Records Storage Guidelines.
- Bring forward checklists for T4’s, T5’s, T3’s, WCB and T1’s;
- Copy all forms relating to T1’s and checklists that I used in the spring 2005 into a new folder for spring 2006. That way I am ready to edit for changes to the T1 Income Tax Act between now and next spring;
- Go through my T1 client list while it’s still fresh in my mind. Decide who should find a new accountant. Consider strategies to let them know (in a nice way) they should find someone else;
- Follow up on all of those T1 clients that I had a conversation with about how we should get together after tax time. Follow up and make appointments for September or October;
- Compare my own financial results year to date on T1 revenue to last year’s year to date results. Prepare budget for the rest of the year and next year. Set revenue targets for quarterly review; and
- Decide if and how much to raise my rates regarding T1 preparation to meet those targets. Take into consideration that working fewer hours for more dollars is important for my health and wellbeing.
My prescription for full tax season and aftermath recovery is a holiday! Three or four weeks at a minimum should do it. We deserve it! We’ve earned it! So take it! Right now I think I’ll go have a nap.
Eileen Reppenhagen is the originator and contributing author of Section 800 of the CGA Canada Public Practice Manual "Future Oriented Financial Information" (1999), and a participant in CGA Canada's Video: Taking Care of Business (2000). She may be contacted by telephone: 1 604 943-7414. Email: email@example.com