The Tax Season Timeline for Preparers

What does tax season look like for a tax preparer? In this post, we outline the typical workflow during the tax season rush and beyond. 

What does the tax season timeline look like for preparers?

December – February: Early tax season

For tax preparers, tax season usually starts in December as clients begin to reach out. Then the IRS opens around January 28. Tax preparers often spend these first two months ramping up for tax season and reaching out to clients to encourage their returning business. The first few days of tax season may not be particularly busy as many taxpayers are still waiting on tax forms from their employers, which usually aren’t due until January 31. 

However, for anyone with an established tax practice, tax season gets busy quickly as clients fill up their early calendar to get their refunds as soon as possible. 

March – April: Peak tax season

For most tax preparers, the tax season rush is more pronounced in March and doesn’t slow down until Tax Day happens on or around April 15. The last couple of weeks are often hectic as taxpayers scramble to file before the deadline. Experienced tax preparers often employee tactics like these to make surviving the busy season easier:

  • Set priorities and minimize any unnecessary work at this time. 
  • Practice self-care and stress management techniques
  • Encourage clients to go virtual. Clients can upload their documents with the TaxesToGo mobile app, which can speed up the filing process. The app streamlines communication and eliminates the need for in-person meetings, saving even more time. 
  • Reward yourself to increase motivation. Sometimes, it’s tough to take an entire day off in peak tax season. Small breaks and treats like ordering your favorite meal for lunch or taking an evening off will help sustain you through the rush.

May – September: The off-season

After the tax season rush is over, many tax preparers enjoy the slower pace and schedule vacations during these months. The off-season will look different for every tax preparer depending on the types of tax clients they work with and whether they offer other services

October – November: Prepping for tax season

Around October, tax professionals will start planning for the upcoming tax season. It may seem soon, but thorough preparation prevents a lot of stress come tax season. Some of the most critical tax season prep tasks include:

  • Setting up your tax software. You should always have the latest tax software to stay up-to-date with changing tax laws. You’ll want to download it well before tax season, so you’ll have plenty of time to get familiar with the software and transfer prior years’ client data. 
  • Updating and testing all tech in the office such as scanners, printers, internet speed, anti-virus software, etc.
  • Applying with a bank to offer bank products to your clients during tax season.
  • Renewing your PTIN.
  • Getting familiar with any tax law changes that will impact the upcoming season.
  • Reaching out to past clients and marketing to potential clients.

For more details on these and other tax season preparation tasks, see our complete Pre-Tax Season Checklist series on the following topics:

A few busy months mean plenty of time later in the year to pursue other interests, travel, or spend time with family. If you’re considering a career in tax preparation, our Ultimate Guide to Starting a Tax Preparation Business can help you decide if it’s the career for you.

When does tax season start in 2022?

Tax season begins in January every year. The IRS will announce when it will open later on, usually at the end of January.

When is tax season over?

Tax season usually ends on April 15 unless that day falls on a weekend. Then Tax Day is moved to the following Monday.

The information in this article is up to date through tax year 2021 (taxes filed in 2022).