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Top challenges accounting professionals face during tax season

From staffing to workflow, Wolters Kluwer’s Tax Season Report  examines the issues faced by firms at the busiest time of the year

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A woman types on a laptopWolters Kluwer’s annual Tax Season Report: Canadian Accounting Industry Challenges is continually evolving to address current issues (Adobe Stock)

The time-honoured adage “The best way to move forward is to look back” clearly applies to the accounting industry.

Accountants make a regular practice of looking back each time they perform a post-tax season assessment. By reviewing the previous tax season and applying that learning going forward, firms become more productive and profitable.

This line of thinking inspired the people at Wolters Kluwer—a global provider of professional information, software solutions and services for the accounting industry—to introduce an annual post-tax season survey four years ago.

The survey, administered to participants from accounting firms of all sizes across Canada, has become a definitive resource in identifying the challenges related to staffing, workflow, technology, and client service that occur during personal tax season.

Wolters Kluwer recognizes that the accounting industry is changing constantly—and no more so than during the recent pandemic, where firms were compelled to accelerate changes in their technology and workflow.

“It’s important that we keep abreast of changes that have the greatest impact on the industry we serve,” says Dean Sonderegger, Wolters Kluwer Canada Executive Vice-President and General Manager. “So, we expanded the survey in 2020 to include questions about the facilitation of remote work and out-of-office client service that were required due to COVID-19.”

The 2022 survey results have just been released, reporting a variety of new findings that accounting professionals will be able to use to understand how their experience compares with that of their peers and to gain insight into possible improvements they might implement in their own firms. Here are some highlights:

  • Many firms are finding it easier to adapt to the remote working model. This bodes well for the future, as an increasing number of today’s young accountants are demanding more flexible work arrangements where they can collaborate with their colleagues from a distance.
  • A reduction of manual data entry has occurred due to the introduction of new technologies. It has not only decreased the number of errors that are made, but it also appears to have significantly reduced the number of hours staff are required to work during this intense period.
  • This year, the survey also probed the use of automatic payment and digital signature technologies that more and more firms have been adopting. While these technologies have helped some accounting professionals save time and streamline processes, there is still an opportunity for others to implement these innovations and reap the rewards.

As in previous years, there were marked differences in many areas between the three accounting firm segments, including adoption rates of new technologies.

“Our annual tax season survey is constantly evolving,” says Sonderegger. “It is a reflection of the times, so you can expect us to add questions each year that address emerging challenges in our industry.”

Read the full 2022 Survey Report, for more insights.