Tax Season 2013: Mostly Unpleasant, And I’m Glad It’s Over

I’m glad tax season is over.

This was my fifth tax season on my own, and it’s the first time where I can honestly say, I didn’t have fun during the season.

It wasn’t all bad, of course. There was good along the way. But taken as a whole, tax season 2013 was mostly unpleasant.

The Good

  • I made a bunch of new connections and picked up some great new clients this year.
  • 95% of the clients who used my services in 2012 and earlier returned this year.
  • My client count grew by a net of 40% over last year.
  • My billings for tax preparation work increased by 113% over ALL of my billings last year for all types of work. In other words, if you took my 2012 gross billings for tax preparation, audit defense, bookkeeping, tax advising, business advising, etc., and doubled it (and then some), that would equal what I billed just for tax preparation work alone this tax season. That’s in about a 2-month timeframe. Which leads to….

The Bad

  • Crushing workload. I felt unprepared all tax season. The late start to the season and all the form delays played a big role. Add to that the fact that my business grew so quickly, and I was out of sorts all tax season. People who know me know that I am usually over-prepared. I don’t like feeling out of sorts and unprepared. But I fell behind immediately this season, never caught up and never really felt like I was in control of anything. I don’t tolerate that at all, so I’m already plotting ways to make sure next tax season runs better.
  • Weird techno-glitches. Whether it was my cell phone (which doubles as my business phone) glitching out for an entire week or my tax software glitching out or my computer system dying in the heat of tax season, or my toddler dunking my business tablet in the cat water, it was a bad season for technology. (The tablet survived, except that the speakers got fried.) Also, the IRS e-file system, which had been running fast most of the season, came to a screeching halt towards the end. E-file confirmations — especially for state returns — at times took almost a WEEK to come back.
  • Earned Income Credit. Every EIC claim I filed was legitimate, of course. But every single EIC claim I filed made me nervous. I truly lost sleep over returns with EIC on them, thanks to the new IRS “due diligence” requirements imposed on preparers. I’m beginning to think Robert Flach is right — don’t take on any EIC clients in the future, no matter how legitimate the EIC claim. I’m not sure I’ll do this, but it sounds really tempting.
  • Crabby people. Without getting into specifics, it sure seemed to me that many people were just plain crabby this tax season.

I’m curious to know what others thought of the season, whether tax pro or ordinary taxpayer. Am I alone in thinking this was a clunker of a season?

“This blog post, along with comments that may follow, should not be considered tax advice. Before you make final tax or financial decisions, please secure a professional tax advisor to give you advice about your unique situation. To secure Jason as your accountant, please click on the ‘Services’ link at the top of the page.”

11 Responses to “Tax Season 2013: Mostly Unpleasant, And I’m Glad It’s Over”

  1. Dave Fazio April 17, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Jason,

    Your experience and sentiments mirror my own:

    Did I make more money? Yes.
    Did I meet some great new clients? Yes.
    Did my software deliver the same results as last year? Hell No.

    The IRS delaying the start of the season left me with about 50 returns waiting for the January 30th e-file start. Then there was the process of culling out all of the returns with depreciation, residential energy credits, passive activity losses and education credits. I had post-it flags on every Form 8879 that was signed, ready to go, but still waiting for the IRS (and my software company) to release an approved form. This left me in constant fear that I would overlook a return and fail to file it (didn’t happen but was enought to drive me insane).

    Then there are the annual tax season problems. Clients calling in too late to schedule an appointment. Clients with appointments on April 12th coming in and forgetting their mortgage interest, new kid’s SSN, Schedule K-1, etc.

    Time was never on my side this season. I lost 2 days to a blizzard (complete with power failure) and a freak storm that was predicted to be 4″ of “light and fluffy” that turned out to be 2 feet of “wet and heavy” over a 24 hour period. To boot we had a death in the family in the 3rd week of March.

    The last 3 weeks of the season I was working literally around the clock and completely exhausted. I’d take 2 or 3 90 minute “power naps” and otherwise work 19-21 hours each day. On April 15th I was filing extensions, but only because they clients didn’t get me their information in time (not because I couldn’t complete them on time).

    It’s now 2 days later and I’ve reunited with my wife and kids. But I still can’t sleep right and find myself shuffling around the house at 3AM while everyone is asleep. Experience tells me it will take a good 2 weeks to get back to normal.

    • Jason Dinesen April 17, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Yikes, I didn’t have the 20-hour days like you did. But I’ve never experienced a tax season quite like this one.

      If it was a baseball season, I’d say I went 84-78. Some stretches where things went well, but overall mostly “blah.”

  2. Steph April 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    As an ordinary tax payer, this year was much simpler for me. Why? Because I hired you! LOL. I haven’t had to do so little…well…ever. I just did my normal organization and summaries like I do every year, then I handed it all over to you, and I didn’t have to worry about how to handle all the weird turbo tax questions about my recent marriage or anything else.

    • Jason Dinesen April 17, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words, Steph! And no, you were NOT one of the “crabby people” referenced in the article. You were a joy to work with. :)

  3. Russ Fox April 19, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    This year (#14) was definitely not my favorite year. Yes, our business grew. Yes, I added some nice new clients. But the headaches were legion:

    - My business partner’s home was flooded when a pipe burst…the week before April 15th;
    - One of my redundant hard drives on the computer chose the same day to fail. The RAID system did what it’s supposed to do (I was protected–there was a working hard drive), but boy does my computer run slowly when duplicating a hard drive;
    - Far too many individuals ignoring our March 26th deadline;
    - Many, many problems with the IRS not debiting clients’ bank accounts (I’m uncertain if that will resolve itself today or I’ll have some sort of wonderful Monday–I know it’s an IRS issue because the state tax agencies debited the exact same bank accounts!); and
    - A lot of client were waiting until mid-March to receive financial 1099s this year.

    On the plus side:
    - My software now allows to me send a pdf document for stock trade detail (e.g. Form 8949) with the returns. That was a huge time-saver and was a welcome addition;
    - I don’t have to worry about the weather here in Las Vegas; and
    - Overall, billings are up so I am making more money.

    I’d still take the 2010 or 2011 tax filing season over this one. I felt far too pressured most of the time, and I don’t like that.

    • Jason Dinesen April 24, 2013 at 7:10 am #

      Russ: I need to look into the pdf attachment to the 8949. I am certain my software (UltraTax) can do that but I’ve never tried. So yes, I manually typed in every stock sale.

  4. MISTY April 24, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    THIS TAX SEASON IS ONE OF THE WORST…WE HAD GLITCHES TOO. EIC CLIENT PROBLEMS TOO. MOST OF MY SE CLIENTS GOT TO WAIT AROUND FOR LETTERS FROM THE IRS TO VERIFY INFO. NOT TO MENTION ONE OR TWO THAT MOVED AND CHANGED BANK ACCOUNTS BEFORE RECEIVING THE REFUND. STILL WORKING OUT THE KINKS FOR ONE OF THEM. DID YOU MENTION THAT THE IRS BUDDY-ED UP WITH A CREDIT INFO COMPANY SO AS TO VERIFY PERSONAL CREDIT HISTORY TO IDENTIFY THE CALLER AFTER AN HOUR WAIT ON THE PHONE … OH, DID I MENTION THAT THEY WENT TO WEBSITE AND STILL HAD TO MAKE THE PHONE CALL. SOME OF MY CLIENTS ARE STILL WAITING FOR REFUNDS…SO THE CALLS ARE STILL COMING THROUGH TO ME BECAUSE THEY WANT TO KNOW IF I CAN HELP SPEED UP THE IRS IN SENDING THEM THEIR MONEY. I GOT SOME PRETTY GOOD REFERRALS THIS SEASON FROM MY LOYAL CUSTOMERS ALONG WITH THE 20HR A DAY SHIFT AND INSOMNIA TO BOOT. I’M NOT COMPLAINING, I’M SHARING…I LOVE NUMBERS ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE IN MY FAVOR. :D MANY HAPPY RETURNS ;D

    • MISTY April 24, 2013 at 4:53 am #

      BY THE WAY, I’M IN SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIF. AND STILL SERVICING THE PROCRASTINATORS IN MY AREA… :D

      • Jason Dinesen April 24, 2013 at 7:14 am #

        I’m in Iowa, where it’s definitely not been sunny, or warm, this spring! But I’m still working on a few procrastinators, too. :)

    • Jason Dinesen April 24, 2013 at 7:13 am #

      Ugh. Knocking on wood as I type this — I didn’t hear of any refund issues with my clients this year.

      At least it’s over!

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