Let’s Talk Taxes: How to Approach Tax Season with Your Clients

Tips and tricks for broaching the topic of taxes with your clients


3 min read

Micah Shilanski
Micah Shilanski
Financial Planner, CFP®

There aren’t a lot of words clients hate to hear more than taxes. In fact, nothing can bring a mood down more quickly than talking about how much money your clients owe Uncle Sam. However, tax season doesn’t have to be a downer. Keep reading to learn tips and tricks for broaching the topic of taxes with your clients and keeping the entire process smooth and productive.

Communicate with the end in sight.

Clients are apt to focus on how much money they owe during tax season. For them, that’s a ballgame. However, as a professional financial advisor, it’s up to you to help them see the big picture. Sure, a qualified tax preparer might be able to slightly impact the amount your clients owe on April 15, and in reality, it might feel good for your clients to see that number go down. But, you have a responsibility too. 

Review your clients’ taxes carefully. Articulate the steps you would advise for them to save money on their taxes annually. Show them the numbers! Saving a couple of hundred dollars in April means nothing if the alternative is to save a few thousand dollars throughout the year. Help your clients build a long-term plan to tackle their taxes yearly.

Let's talk taxes

It only gets better with age.

Many things change as your clients get older, including the perspective they need to hold on to their taxes. Consider whether a Roth conversion might be appropriate for your clients. Your clients can opt to transfer retirement funds from a traditional retirement account to a Roth account in this financial transaction. This could save money in taxes that would have otherwise accrued due to increases in marginal rates and allow for more accessible funds.

Cross and dot every single thing.

Yeah, yeah – it goes without saying that we have to be detail-oriented when looking at our clients’ taxes. However, you can use tax review as an opportunity to offer your clients quick, bite-sized value adds. 

Has your client moved recently? Maybe their address isn’t updated with the IRS. There’s nothing quite like getting a letter saying you owe money and are already past the appeal deadline because the IRS didn’t know where to find you. Save your clients the headache by checking their addresses and letting them know if adjustments need to be made. 

What about their family situation? Do you have a client who is financing their child’s college education? Does your client know that they can still claim that child as a dependent? On the flip side, when someone experiences the loss of a spouse, that can change their filing status, and you can provide empathy while helping them navigate a portion of that process. Ultimately, taxes come with a million different details, and your attention to such details can make a difference to your clients. 

Congratulate them on a job well done.

Look, taxes will never be an experience that your clients look forward to, but you can make it an experience that feels reassuring and validating. So what’s your client’s tax situation? How can you applaud them on a job well done? 

Perhaps they’ve upped their income this year through some strategic investments. That deserves a shoutout! On the flip side, maybe they didn’t have a lot of earned income this year because they did the hard work in years gone by–that deserves a huge congratulations. Their hard work and dedication are allowing them to live the lifestyle they do, and you might be the first person to offer them recognition for that.

Help them learn to plan ahead.

As much as society will try to convince us that we can isolate thinking about our taxes to once a year, that’s really not a strategic way to do things. Help your clients embrace the long game by setting regular surge meetings to review their progress toward their goals; ensure that these meetings include discussions about where they are in relation to their taxes. These regular check-ins will help ensure that there are no nasty surprises when April rolls around. 

Trust Retirement Tax Services to steer you right.

Your clients need qualified retirement professionals, and you need high-quality professional development. We truly believe that everyone deserves financial help from qualified professionals, and as part of our mission to make that happen, we’ll give away the very resources that we use during these sessions. 

You deserve to be prepared, and your clients deserve to be assisted by someone who is prepared as well. Trust us to help you maximize your clients’ tax situations. 

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