The joy of the post-holiday season always gets mitigated by one thing: the dread of the impending tax season and all the work that comes with it.

Take a deep breath: there’s still time to prepare before the madness begins. Follow these 4 steps to make sure you and your clients are prepared for the upcoming tax season.

1. Inform Your Clients What You Need to File

Accountants—you know how much information you need, but your clients may not. Get started now on giving clients a comprehensive list of what you’ll expect from them come January and explain how it can expedite the filing process. Schedule emails and calls to touch base with your clients—chances are something will need more in-depth explanation or at least a gentle reminder or two.

2. Advise Clients to Tie Up Loose Ends

Now’s the time for your clients to scour the preceding year’s activity for loose ends. Outstanding invoices and payments should be taken care of first—CPAs should get their clients started on trying to resolve any issues of income yet to be collected or paying vendors who’ve yet to be compensated. These are just examples; every business should have a process for tying up loose ends at the end of the year.

3. Prepare for Changes

Accountants can benefit from taking on an instructive role with their clients by sharing their expertise. One of the most practical ways is to send out communiques outlining changes in tax codes regarding the recent fiscal year and alterations to the filing process for the impending tax season. The year 2016 will not only bring Affordable Care Act penalties, but the usual substantive changes that happen to tax laws every year. Visit Paycor's CPA Resource Center for links to communications about 2016 Social Security and tax changes that you can share with your clients.

4. Check and Double Check

The cardinal virtue of tax season is thoroughness. Going over everything with a fine-toothed comb before filing can help mitigate stress or worry, but more than anything each mistake or omission caught by re-examining documentation and reports will save time and money while preventing undesirable consequences.

We advise you to start now— there are little hidden difficulties in every tax filing, only made more complex by the size and scope of a client’s business. Getting on the same page in your accountant-client relationship and having a to-do list like this to get ready for tax season are just the things that can prevent headaches and all-out panic from happening when tax season does arrive. Visit for resources to help you every step of the way.

Sources: Journal of Accountancy, American Institute of CPAs, U.S. SBA