Tuesday, 26 June 2018

How to prepare for your first tax season

Staring down the barrel of your first tax season? Avoid the anxiety from the get-go with these top tips for getting through what’s likely to be the most demanding period of your work year.

Find a time-management system that works for you

Work out what works for you when it comes to time-management technology. That could be an app on your phone or tablet (Evernote is a popular option), your trusty Outlook or Gmail calendar, or even an old-school paper wall planner. Whatever method you choose, make sure you use it religiously as you won’t be in a position to squander your most precious resource.

Maintain a work-life balance

This one seems counterintuitive until you accept that even high-performance engines can’t run at top speed for too long without overheating. Sure, minimise any unnecessary distractions during your busy periods, but make sure you also allow yourself some time to recharge. Schedule a run in the morning or dinner with your partner at night, or just get out of the office and go sit in the park for half an hour at lunchtime.

Learn to say “no”

If someone – a client, colleague or even your supervisor – asks you take on something unimportant or non-urgent, simply say “no”. Or, more diplomatically, palm them off with a statement like, “I’d love to help you out with that, but would you mind if we came back to this down the track? It's a busy time of year and I’m not confident I’d be able to devote the time and attention I’d like to it.”

Make use of the resources at your disposal

The Australian Tax Office has an entire section of its website dedicated to helping new tax professionals get on their feet. Take the time to read about everything from the tax-lodgement program to keeping your clients’ details private and protected.

Get up to speed beforehand

You can think of your first tax season as a very long, real-world exam. And what do you do if you want to do well in exams? You study. In this instance, you want to be up to date on any tax changes well before your inbox starts resembling Mount Everest. One way to keep on top of things is to check out The Tax Institute's Taxation in Australia journal, published 11 times a year. The journal is available to Institute members online or as a hard copy.

Keep these tips in mind when entering tax season and not only will you survive, you'll come out a better and more valuable employee, ready to take on whatever else the industry throws at you.

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