Encourage Clients to File Their 2018 Tax Returns Early



It’s official, the 2019 tax season kicks off on Monday, January 28th. As you know, the government shutdown is not going to delay the start of the tax season or the processing of refunds. Unfortunately, your clients don’t know that. The shutdown is likely giving them a false sense of security that they now how more time. Here’s the thing: they don’t!

As their trusted advisor, it’s up to you to inform them of the benefits of filing early. It’s also advantageous of you to get them in your office as early as possible. For one, you want to reduce the number of late season appointments and for two, you want some revenue coming in this month.

So, how will you convince them? Give them these six reasons to file early.

Reason #1: Filing Early Prevents Tax ID Fraud

ID thieves are out in full force during tax season. If they file a client’s return first, you’ve got a big mess to clean up! First off, they’ll use all the unlawful tricks in the book to get the most money back, putting a red flag on your client. Second, there’s no guarantee your client will ever see that refund money. Filing as early as possible prevents all of this from happening.

Reason #2: They Need Time to Consider Different Tax Strategies

There are several new provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that may change the way a client files. For one, the standard deduction was increased, which means people who normally itemize, you may want to reconsider. The new deductions are:

  • $12,000 for Single filers and married taxpayers who file separately
  • $24,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • $18,000 for heads of household

There’s also a new $10,000 limit on total state and local tax deduction (SALT). If a client’s SALT deduction is typically more than $10k, they may want to take the standard deduction. Filing early means more time to talk to clients about their options and more time for them to make a decision how to file.

Reason #3: They May End Up Owing 

There’s a reason the IRS has been encouraging people to check their withholding this year. The elimination of the personal exemption under the new tax law means many taxpayers have been under withholding. That may mean a surprise when an anticipated refund turns out to be a tax bill!  According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, more than 30 million Americans may owe taxes this year due to underwithholding. That surprise is better to get now than in April when there’s less time to cough up the money.

Reason #4: Tax Simplification is a Myth

We’ve all seen the new tax forms. Four new schedules on the new Form 1040 does not equal simpler! But the public has been told otherwise. It’s your job to inform that the new tax law did not make filing simpler and that now more than ever they should seek the help of a professional.

Reason #5: Your Schedule is MUCH More Open Now

It’s important to communicate to clients that making an appointment now will be much easier than in late March or April. Waiting until the last minute to get an appointment is never a good strategy – because that’s what everyone does!

Reason #6: It’s Off Their Plate

It feels good to not have to worry about things, doesn’t it? Remind your clients of that. Filing early means all their worries about tax returns are over.

Now is the time to get messaging out to your clients and potential clients about filing early. Write a blog post, put it out on social media channels, put it in an email, give them a call, mail them a tax planner, or a reminder card. Whatever it takes to get them through the door!