how to handle difficult accounting clients

Dealing with difficult clients is one of the more challenging aspects of being an accounting business owner. 

A client may be excessively demanding, disrespectful, or simply hard to work with, so you want strategies in place for managing these relationships successfully. 

In this article, you’ll find 15 tips for dealing with demanding clients or stressful situations and examples for putting each recommendation into practice.

15 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Accounting Clients

1. Communicate Clearly and Regularly

Frequent communication is key to managing any client relationship, especially when working with more challenging clients. Make sure to clearly communicate your expectations, deadlines, and any changes to your processes or policies. 

Keeping an open channel of communication promotes transparency while also helping prevent misunderstandings.  

Example: If you’re working with a client who consistently misses deadlines, consider scheduling regular check-ins to ensure you’re on track and address any issues causing the delay.

2. Be Patient and Understanding

Clients may not always be aware of the impact their actions or behaviors have on you and your work. In some situations, a client may be having a bad day or be worried about another issue that has nothing to do with you. 

Be patient and try to understand their perspective, even if you disagree with it. Try not to take it personally. By thoughtfully talking through the situation, you demonstrate your knowledge and care for a client’s concerns.   

Example: If a client is struggling with a new accounting process, offer additional guidance and support to help get them up to speed. Schedule some extra time to review the process with them so you can answer any questions they have and see where they’re getting stuck. 

3. Set Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is essential for ensuring clients value your time and effort and treat you with respect. You can limit how often you’re available for questions, the time you’re willing and able to devote to certain tasks, and the amount of work you do for a client. 

Example: If a client makes excessive demands on your time, it may be necessary to tell them they have to schedule a call in advance if they have questions. You can let them know you’re only available at specific times because it allows you to better manage your workload and serve all your clients’ needs. 

4. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Several tools and tech-based platforms are available to help you streamline your work and communicate more efficiently with clients. Consider using project management software like Jetpack Workflow, online document-sharing services, and scheduling platforms for client meetings. 

Jetpack Workflow Dashboard

Example: If you have a client in another city or state, use video conferencing software or messaging apps to stay connected and communicate more easily.

5. Seek Support

If you’re struggling with an ongoing client dilemma, don’t be afraid to seek support from colleagues, mentors, or professional organizations. An outside perspective can help you see the situation in a new light and uncover a unique solution.

Create a support system for yourself comprised of accountants, bookkeepers, and other professionals. Include lawyers, bankers, and coaches, to name a few; they’re all in professions that manage clients on a daily basis and can offer insight when you need it. 

Example: If you’re having trouble setting boundaries with a difficult client, reach out to a trusted associate. Ask them for suggestions or how they handled a similar situation in the past. You’re sure to walk away with more than one option.  

6. Offer Solutions

When a client shares a problem they have with your work, focus on finding solutions rather than getting caught up in the issue. You’ll help move the conversation forward, resolve the issue more quickly, and build trust with your client. 

Example: If a client is unhappy with the speed at which you are completing a project, collaborate on coming up with alternatives to get it done faster. It may mean increasing the number of team members working on the project or adjusting the timeline. 

7. Document Everything

Keep detailed records of all your client communication and work. Tracking your work progress and correspondence provides the evidence you need should any disputes or misunderstandings arise. 

It also helps to have an engagement letter for every client. This document details the services you will provide, the fees you charge, and the time you anticipate spending on their financial records. It’s a helpful reference when clients have questions or ask for more services than are outlined in the letter. 

Example: If a client is disputing the charges on an invoice, take time to review the invoice with them. Show them documentation of the work you completed and the hours you spent on the project, which can help resolve the dispute more quickly.

8. Be Proactive

Try to anticipate potential issues or concerns and address them ahead of time. You’ll prevent problems from arising or escalating and demonstrate to your clients how proactive and proficient you are. 

Example: If a client is slow or late when providing necessary documentation, request the paperwork in advance and suggest a delivery deadline well before you need it. If it’s late, you can send them a reminder knowing you still have time to collect it and avoiding the stress of any delays. 

9. Seek Feedback

Ask your clients for feedback regularly to get a sense of how you’re doing and where you can improve. Seeking feedback demonstrates how much you care about a client’s business and addressing any issue they may have. You not only identify ways to strengthen your business, you strengthen your client relationships as well. 

Example: If a client has a complaint about your work, ask them, “Could you share what you’d like done differently? I’d like to know what would be more useful or helpful to you.” It shows you value them and want to provide the best service possible. 

10. Employ a Mediator

If you’re unable to settle an issue with a client on your own, consider using a mediator to help facilitate a resolution. This allows both parties to feel heard and can lead to a more mutually satisfactory outcome. 

Example: If you and a client can’t agree on the scope of a project or the terms of a contract, a mediator can help facilitate a resolution that works for both parties. 

11. Use Positive Language

Choose your words carefully when communicating with clients. Using positive language and framing issues constructively can help defuse tension and encourage more productive dialogue. 

Example: If a client is unhappy with the progress of a project, try saying, “We understand you have concerns about the project’s progress. How can we help address those concerns and move forward?”

12. Always Remain Professional

No matter how difficult a client may be, it’s vital to maintain a professional demeanor. Remaining calm and focused can help de-escalate the conflict and demonstrates your willingness to find a solution. 

Example: If a client is being disrespectful or argumentative, calmly address the behavior rather than getting upset or responding in kind. Suggest rescheduling the meeting to give yourself and your client time to come up with productive solutions or be prepared to professionally set a boundary around how you prefer to communicate. 

13. Practice Active Listening

When communicating with clients, try to listen actively to what they are saying. Pay close attention, ask clarifying questions, and show you’re listening by making eye contact and nodding. Active listening builds trust and understanding and can help you find common ground with your clients. 

Example: If a client expresses frustration over an aspect of the accounting process, listen to their concerns and show empathy by saying, “I understand how that can be frustrating for you.” Ask questions about what’s bothering them, and repeat what you hear them saying so they know you understand. 

14. Take Breaks

If you feel overwhelmed or frustrated when working with a particular client, it can be helpful to take a break. Give yourself a chance to regroup, refocus, and return to the situation with a fresh perspective and a clear head. 

Example: If you’re working on a stressful project with a demanding client, suggest hitting the pause button and picking up the project later that day or the next. Let the client know a break will give each of you a chance to return to the project with renewed energy and ideas. 

In some cases, it may be necessary to seek legal assistance if you can’t resolve an issue with a client. Consulting with or hiring an attorney may be required if a client threatens you or you believe they have violated your rights or business interests. 

Example: If a client refuses to pay an invoice and threatens you personally or with legal action over it, seek legal advice to help resolve the issue. You can also reach out to your support system for legal referrals. 

Keep Clients Happy with a Project Management System 

No matter how well you do your job, every business encounters challenging clients. However, you can avoid many problems by providing top-notch customer service and managing your business efficiently. 

Jetpack Workflow offers an intuitive workflow management system designed for bookkeeping and accounting firms. The platform helps you stay organized, streamline your workflow, and easily track your tasks and client projects. 

You’ll have everything you need at your fingertips to keep your business running smoothly and your clients happy. Start your trial today and experience the Jetpack Workflow difference!

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.
accountant referral

Growing your business can be an ongoing challenge for accounting firm owners. One excellent way of expanding your client base is through referrals. 

How exactly do you land referrals? This article will share a few ideas and best practices. We’ll also incorporate tips from Stacey Brown Randall, the multiple award-winning author of Generating Business Referrals and recent guest on Jetpack Workflow’s podcast, “Growing Your Firm.” 



Remember that referrals, whether from a current client or another professional, mean someone trusts your ability to handle a referral well. Anyone who gives you a referral is putting their own reputation on the line by vouching for your services, and you need to live up to that trust.

1. Ask for Referrals

Asking is the most straightforward referral method. 

Connecting with key contacts in your business is instrumental in acquiring new clients. Simply ask your current clients and associates, if they know anyone looking for accounting services. This referral could be someone they know personally or a colleague within the industry. 

With a simple request, you’re likely to tap into a potential client base who otherwise may not have known of your services. Additionally, if you create an atmosphere where each new referral feels welcome, the possibility of their referring even more people to you increases significantly. 

Action to take: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Let your contacts know you’re building your firm and have the capacity to take on additional work. 

2. Send a Handwritten Thank-You Note for Every Referral Received

“Always send a hand-written note thanking your source for the referral by name.” — Stacey Brown Randall

Showing gratitude when referrals come your way is key to receiving more in the future. Sending personalized thank-you notes gives your referral source the same level of consideration they’ve shown you. 

Should you receive several referrals from one source, consider leveling up your gratitude. You could take your referral source out for a meal or send a gift, such as a gift basket or gift card. 

Action to take: If you haven’t already done so, reach out to anyone who sent you a referral this past year and mention the referral by name. For referral sources who sent you several potential clients, consider a year-end gift. Create a practice of thanking sources for referrals shortly after receiving them.  

3. Identify Clients Who Would Be Good Referral Sources

“Identify who is referring to you now. You have to data dive into your business.”  — Stacey Brown Randall

Who are the natural connectors in your network? Who are the people who have given you a testimonial or said they’ve talked about you?

Once you’ve identified strong potential referral sources, work on strengthening your relationship with those people and businesses. Think about how you can help them. 

Are there referrals you can send their way? Are they having a business problem you can offer guidance on and help them overcome? The key is doing this naturally and authentically. 

Action to take: Go back through your records to identify past referral sources. If you are not currently tracking the referral sources of your clients, start adding that information to your client database so you can monitor referrals going forward. 

4. Network with Professionals Who Serve Similar Clients

Networking with professionals in other industries is another effective way to expand your business and leverage the skills you already have. 

For example, you may exchange advice with a marketing professional and create a mutually collaborative business relationship. Tapping into and learning from another person’s experience and expertise allows you to grow professionally in ways you wouldn’t on your own. 

Making connections outside your industry could also lead to exciting opportunities and a better understanding of how that particular industry works. It’s worth taking the time to network with other professionals because it opens up a world of new possibilities, fresh insights, and greater success.

Action to take: There is no shortage of opportunities to network with other professionals. Entrepreneurial meetups and networking groups will have a variety of businesspeople in attendance. Go online and search for a few in your area. 

5. Create an Outreach Plan for Your Referral Sources

An outreach plan should include ways to increase the number of touchpoints with your referral sources throughout the year. 

Consider creating different categories and levels of outreach for your referral sources. Sources who send you double-digit referrals each year receive additional levels of outreach compared to those who send one or two. 

An outreach plan allows you to proactively look for ways to interact with your referral sources and add value to their lives or businesses. It could include sending them a book, passing along informative and relevant articles, or a quick check-in phone call. Each of these touchpoints increases your visibility with your referral source. 

Your outreach plan lets you plant referral seeds. The simple but meaningful act of thoughtfully touching base during the year keeps you top of mind anytime your referral source knows of someone who needs your services. 

Action to take: List your referral sources, and separate them into different categories. Create a plan for reaching out to your sources in each category. Make sure you keep your touchpoints relevant to each referral source.

6. Engage with Your Evangelists on Social Media

Who are your “evangelists?” They’re the people online who know you and support your work. Engaging with these friends, colleagues, and fans on social media is a great way to continue building those relationships. 

A helpful byproduct of strengthening these connections is your ability to tap into their networks, gain valuable insight into what resonates with them, and grow your own reach. 

If you need some pointers on using social media effectively, here are two resources:

  1. How to Craft an Amazing LinkedIn Profile
  2. 3 Examples of LinkedIn (and TikTok?!) Posts for Accounting Firm Owners

Action to take: Find your biggest fans and referral sources on social media channels, and engage with them regularly. Boost their visibility by liking and commenting on their posts. Tag them on posts relevant to them and their business. Without having to ask for it, they’ll hopefully do the same for you.

How to Stay Organized as Your Business Grows

As those referrals arrive, you need to be ready to handle your new clients and the larger workload, plus provide them with expert customer service.

Consider implementing a full workflow management system as your work and your team expand. Jetpack Workflow is accounting software created with accountants and bookkeepers in mind and contains predefined templates to let you hit the ground running.

Not only does Jetpack Workflow keep you on target with client deadlines, it can also help you keep track of your referrals and referral sources. Plan your networking events, outreach, and thank-you notes within the system. 

Jetpack Workflow helps you manage your business, so you can cultivate strong referral partnerships, build long-lasting client relationships, and continue growing a successful practice. Start a free 14-day trial here.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.
best accounting blogs

The world of accounting is constantly evolving, so it’s essential for accountants and bookkeepers to be aware of the latest news and trends in the industry. 

With so many blogs offering worthwhile insights into all aspects of the accounting field, it can be hard to know which ones are worth your time. To help you decide on the best sites to spend a few minutes (or hours) reading each week, we’ve compiled a list of our 10 favorite accounting blogs.

These blogs:

  • Provide you with up-to-date information as tax rules change
  • Review the latest software to help your firm or team become more efficient
  • Offer valuable career guidance to help you take the next step forward
  • Give you practical advice on managing your accounting or bookkeeping business

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

1. Future Firm 

Future Firm’s blog is an insightful online platform for entrepreneurs, business owners, and aspiring innovators in accounting. It covers the latest trends related to startups, venture capitalism, and technology—essential reading for anyone looking to grow their career or turn an idea into a successful business. 

The blog is comprehensive, with insights into subjects from funding options to legal requirements and marketing tips. Whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or trying to keep up with the ever-changing industry landscape, Future Firm has something for everyone. 

Summarizing relevant topics in easy-to-read, concise articles, it’s not a surprise this blog is an increasingly popular source of information for those seeking expertise and enlightenment in the startup world.

Who it’s for: Firm owners and entrepreneurial accountants

Topics covered:

  • Business building
  • Client base expansion
  • Marketing
  • Client outreach
  • Startups

2. Jetpack Workflow

It’s true—we’re putting our own blog high on this list of favorites. That’s because we’re passionate about giving you the knowledge and practice management resources to build and grow your business.

The Jetpack Workflow blog focuses on offering tools to help you maximize your profits by minimizing the time you spend organizing your tasks and managing your staff. It’s full of time-saving tips and templates so you can hit the ground running and consistently meet your professional deadlines and personal goals.

Who it’s for: Accounting and bookkeeping business owners (or accountants thinking about venturing out on their own)

Topics covered:

  • Project management
  • Streamlining operations
  • Time-saving tips
  • Business templates
  • Team dynamics

3. TOA Global

TOA Global’s blog is an excellent resource for anyone interested in honing their business, financial, and investment knowledge. It provides comprehensive insights and up-to-date best practices so readers can stay informed on the latest topics and trends shaping the world of finance. 

Though the blog offers guidance on building your business, many articles focus on the benefits of outsourcing your work. It’s a helpful site for teams transitioning to remote work environments or working with contractors.

Who it’s for: Firm owners (especially those in growth mode)

Topics covered:

  • Working with outsourced talent
  • Managing workloads
  • Team management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Remote work environments

4. Blake Oliver

Blake Oliver’s blog is an online resource for accounting professionals looking to stay in the loop on the latest accounting news, trends, and regulations. Whether you’re a budding accountant or an industry veteran, you’ll find helpful articles from accounting experts to keep your knowledge sharp. 

From career advice to tutorials on accounting software best practices, this blog is a go-to source for accounting tips, tricks, and guidance. With regular updates from the industry’s top voices, you’ll gain valuable insight into the accounting world. 

Who it’s for: All accountants and bookkeepers

Topics covered: 

  • Productivity
  • Exam structure updates
  • Regulation updates
  • Employment regulations
  • Industry news

5. Ignition 

Ignition’s blog is chock full of accounting guidance. It offers expert advice on accounting practices and trends, plus tips from accounting professionals. It’s easy to navigate and has up-to-date information to help all accounting aficionados understand their craft better. 

From accounting software selection to filing taxes to client relationships, Ignition has the scoop. If you’re looking to improve your accounting game or stay ahead of the curve, this blog is for you.

Who it’s for: Accounting firm owners

Topics covered: 

  • Billing 
  • Client management
  • Marketing
  • Practice management
Extra: Are you ready to grow your firm and boost revenue? We took the best strategies and insights from 100+ interviews with our customers. Download our exclusive book, Double Your Accounting Firm for free.


6. Accounting Today

Accounting Today offers breaking accounting news, insights, and analysis. Its goal is to provide readers with access to the latest developments in accounting practices and to help accounting professionals stay up-to-date in their field. 

The site features original stories from accounting experts and news from a variety of credible sources. It also has a section for live events where accounting professionals can find webinars and conferences. It’s an invaluable resource for those in the accounting profession.

Who it’s for: Accountants 

Topics covered:

  • Industry news
  • IRS updates
  • Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) insights and updates
  • Practice management

7. Going Concern

Going Concern is dedicated to the discussion of accounting news, industry insights, and career development. The website is also a valuable resource for CPA exam candidates. 

The website regularly conducts salary surveys and provides insight into the compensation criteria of top accounting firms. Plus, it has a job board where companies can connect with potential candidates. 

Going Concern does share articles about regulations but is more focused on the trends and scuttlebutt within the industry.

Who it’s for: Accounting professionals and CPA exam candidates

Topics covered:: 

  • CPA exam updates
  • News
  • Salaries
  • Jobs
  • Industry buzz

8. Insightful Accountant

Insightful Accountant is an extensive online resource for accountants and bookkeepers. It offers an array of educational events and training courses designed to help accounting professionals succeed in business while providing timely insights into industry trends and developments. 

Additionally, the site reviews account management software, tax preparation tools, practice consulting services, cloud technology integration support, and more. Its articles address a range of topics, from regulations to practice management.

Insightful Accountant is an essential companion for modern-day professional practices. 

Who it’s for: This website is geared toward industry professionals and, specifically, decision-makers within firms.

Topics covered:

  • Business practices
  • Accounting technology and software
  • Tax news
  • Continuing education
  • Marketing

9. Don’t Mess With Taxes

Need the latest on taxes? Don’t Mess With Taxes is an essential blog to bookmark. Belonging to journalist Kay Bell, a native Texan who focuses on breaking tax news, sharing tax tips, and detailing changing regulations, this site is ideal for taxpayers and tax professionals alike. 

With articles written in a clear and approachable way, Bell’s blog often contains links to other helpful reporting. If you’re looking for several sources on a particular tax topic, Don’t Mess With Taxes is a great place to start.

Who it’s for: Tax planners, tax preparers, and taxpayers

Topics covered:

  • Taxes and the IRS
  • U.S. regulations
  • Personal finances
  • Current events

10. Journal of Accountancy

The Journal of Accountancy is an invaluable resource and a leader in its field. It publishes timely, relevant, and solution-based articles beneficial to all who want to stay informed on the latest news and industry trends. 

The Journal provides insights on taxes, technology, business strategies, auditing, and more. It’s a go-to source for those serious about making the most of their careers in the accounting profession.

Who it’s for: Geared toward accounting and tax professionals, covering highly technical questions.

Topics covered:

  • Financial reporting
  • Taxes and IRS updates
  • Auditing and assurance
  • Case law
  • State-specific issues
  • Accounting practice management 

Use Jetpack Workflow to Stay Informed 

Let Jetpack Workflow help you and your team stay up-to-date on changes in the accounting industry. Use Jetpack Workflow’s workflow management system to assign articles and set aside time for research and educational development. The more you know, the better you can serve your clients. 

Jetpack Workflow’s accounting software makes it easy to keep your tasks and timelines organized. Project tracking tools, readymade templates, and more help you manage your practice efficiently so you have the freedom and flexibility to stay informed. 

Grow your accounting business while also growing your knowledge and expertise in the field with a free 14-day trial of Jetpack Workflow

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.







    • Be a Coach

    • Foster Loyalty

    • Study Your Purchases 








We’re back with another solocast! In this episode, David Cristello, founder and CEO of Jetpack Workflow reminds us of the importance of staying a student during the holiday season. 



This time of the year is crazy. On the personal front, you’re purchasing and navigating a lot of different buying experiences. You’re also factoring in changes that may be happening in 2023 as well. 



You’ll also start to think about these things for your business. During this time, it’s important to stay a student of your buying experiences by keeping in mind what’s working and what’s not. 



Be a Coach



For example, if you’re purchasing airline tickets, keep tabs on the experience. 




    • Is it hard to make a purchase? 

    • Are there too many upsells or are there just enough upsells to add value? 

    • Do you understand what to do after you purchase the ticket? 

    • If you’re navigating a new airport, do they recognize that and maybe help you kind of navigate through it? 

    • Do they give you discounts? 

    • Do they give you options?



These all play a factor in your overall buying experience.



As you continue through the rest of Q4, you may be thinking of joining new communities or groups or meeting with coaches, mentors, and consultants. Think about the onboarding process of these experiences. 



David said he recently joined an online community and the onboarding process was seamless. Signing up was effortless, there was a welcome email with instructions going forward, a one-click sign-in process, and an automatic message from the founders. David replied and received more information about the community, a timeline, what he needed to be prepared for, what he should expect, and an overview of the value he can get from the community. 



This entire onboarding process built David’s trust and by the end of it, he was ready to recommend the group to friends. 



You can take this example and relate it to your firm. Do you provide an experience whereby a client would recommend other clients, even before the first service is delivered, just by the care, attention, packaging, positioning, and communication of where they’re at in the onboarding process?



Rely on your experiences to learn how to coach your clients through your processes.


Get everything you need to manage projects and meet deadlines.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, and get 32 free accounting workflow templates today!​​

sign me up!


Foster Loyalty



Focusing on building loyalty is another key. You likely have a place you go for a holiday tradition. Maybe it’s a place to see holiday lights, go snowboarding, go to a lodge or a cabin, or whatever else. At some point, you were probably disappointed by the experience. 



The experience decays because there is an assumption of loyalty, and as a consumer, you start to notice and become unsatisfied. Chipped paint, trash in the parking lot, less exciting features, etc. 



Also, it’s not uncommon for these experiences to raise prices each year. If you’re enjoying it year-over-year and they are adding new things, great, you’re happy to pay more. However, if the experience stays the same or decreases in value, you won’t want to continue paying and you’ll search for a better option. 



So, how does this apply to your firm? 




    • Where is there rust in your firm? 

    • Where is the decay? 

    • Where is the paint chipped? 

    • Where is your firm not meeting and exceeding customer/client expectations? 



One of the cool things about this industry is that you should have clients for life, but you have to invest in them to keep them. It’s a mistake to assume things will always stay the same because as your clients and their needs evolve, your firm has to evolve as well. 



The services you provided last year may need to be improved so your clients don’t find a competitor who meets their needs better this year. You have to facilitate new ways to maintain their loyalty and keep them engaged with your services. 



You have to make them happy to pay more. 



Study Your Purchases



Overall, you’ll be making a lot of purchases this holiday season. Use it as an opportunity to remain a student and be reflective on experiences that either wow you or leave you deflated and questioning whether you made the right decision.



Keep your head in the game, take notes, and use these reflections as a great springboard into 2023.



As always, if you have questions, comments, or feedback, email me at If you enjoy these solocasts, leave a review! This helps us get the word out!


See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.
tax return letter to client example

You should have a tax return letter for every tax engagement, signaling an understanding with your clients for the upcoming tax season. 

This letter should outline who is responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the tax return, along with your deadlines for receiving documentation for timely filing.

If you don’t have an engagement letter or aren’t sure how to create one, read on. We’ve provided an example of a tax return letter and an explanation of the key subjects it should cover.

What Is a Tax Return Letter?

A tax return letter is sent to your clients each year before the tax season starts. It outlines the responsibilities you and your clients have and establishes important deadlines. You want to send this letter to your clients in early January so everyone is on the same page and prepared to meet the April filing deadline.

A tax return letter is also a reminder that you’re ready to help your clients with their tax returns; it serves as a form of marketing. Make sure your letter is personable while also covering all the necessary business aspects. 

Many firms have switched to emailing clients a tax return engagement letter each year. This method works well if your firm accepts e-signatures and your clients can sign the documents online.

Why Is a Tax Return Letter Important?

There are a few important reasons to send your clients a tax return letter each year.

Reminds Clients Tax Season Is Starting

For many people, tax season is a time of stress and anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can help tax season go smoothly for your clients with planning and preparation.

One of the best ways to prepare for tax season is to remind your clients that it’s coming up. A tax return letter is a great way to do this. 

By sending out a tax return letter, you remind your clients of crucial deadlines and help them get organized for tax season. Plus, it shows you’re on top of things and ready to make the task easier for them. 

Outlines Each Party’s Responsibilities

Your engagement letter clarifies for your clients what their responsibilities are in the preparation of their tax returns. Many people assume once they hire a tax preparer, all responsibility lies with the preparer.

Your clients should understand they bear the ultimate responsibility for the information contained in their return. They are also responsible for maintaining backup documentation for the numbers on the return. 

You and your firm are responsible for exercising the necessary due diligence and professional judgment in preparing the return. You also need to state that tax preparers are not required to audit information provided by clients.

Provides Liability Protection

By clearly outlining the responsibilities of you and your clients, you protect yourself from claims against your firm. You can’t avoid all misunderstandings, but a signed tax letter minimizes the chance you will be liable for any adverse outcomes because of a tax return you prepared.

Creates an Understanding of Fees

No one likes receiving an unexpected bill. When you’re dealing with hundreds of clients during the busiest time of year, the last thing you want to spend time on is billing questions.

A tax return letter should outline your fee structure and whether you charge a fixed fee or have an hourly billing rate. The letter should also state how and when you will bill for the return and include payment options.

What Your Tax Return Letter Should Include

There are several key items to include in your tax return letter.

Due Dates for Receiving Documents

Your letter should clearly outline the due date for filing the tax return. Be sure you accurately update this deadline each year. If there are different due dates for state or local returns, these should also be in your letter.

Along with the official filing deadlines, you should also set time frames for receiving documentation from your clients, such as 15 or 30 days before the filing deadline. Explain how you’ll handle the return if you don’t receive the paperwork on time.

Turnaround Time

In addition to deadlines, you should also explain your standard processing time. If you usually take 2–3 weeks to complete a return, outlining this expectation for your clients saves you time answering requests for updates. 

Services Included

If your engagement only includes tax return preparation, you must state that in your letter. If you offer additional services, such as bookkeeping or tax projection services, you should communicate whether those services are part of the engagement. If extra fees are involved in those services, you should state how you will bill for them.

Accuracy Declaration

Your letter should include an explanation of who is responsible for the accuracy of the return. Ultimately, accuracy is the responsibility of your client. Their signature on the return or electronic filing authorization is their acceptance of that responsibility. 

Tax Return Completeness

The completeness of a tax return relies on your clients submitting all the necessary documentation and is another item to include in your letter. While you can expect reasonable inquiries about this matter based on prior returns or other factors, the client must provide all paperwork necessary to prepare the return.

Statement of Fees 

Include a summary of how you will bill for the return. Because of the considerable variations in the complexity of various returns, a statement about using “standard billing practices” is generally part of the letter. Explain who the client should reach out to if they need a more specific billing estimate.

Signature Section

Close the letter with a signature block to confirm your client has read and accepted the terms of the engagement.

A Free Tax Return Letter Template

The letter template below is for illustrative purposes only. A signed agreement is binding with your clients and, as such, should be reviewed by a legal professional.

Dear Client: 

We hope you have had a great year and look forward to working with you again. In order to outline our services and responsibilities, we request that you review and sign the tax service engagement letter below. 

To prepare your tax return before the filing deadline, we need to receive your tax documentation 30 days prior to the filing deadline. If we do not receive your documentation by this date, we will file an extension on your behalf, and your return will be filed after the tax filing deadline.

Note that an extension of your tax return only extends the time to file your return. Any taxes due must still be paid by the deadline. 

While we scan copies of the documentation you submit to us, it is your responsibility to provide any documentation requested by the IRS in the event of an audit.

In preparing your tax return, we will use our professional judgment to make recommendations. If the IRS questions an entry we created based on our professional judgment, we will argue for the appropriateness of the entry. However, you are ultimately responsible for the information on your tax return. You should carefully review your return before signing it.

If you require additional services such as bookkeeping or tax planning, those are outside the scope of this tax preparation agreement. As such, any additional services will incur fees based on our regular billing rates.

Fees for our tax preparation services will be billed at our standard rates. An invoice will be included with your completed return. If you would like an estimate of the price for your return, please contact us before submitting your documentation. Note that some returns require additional time due to unforeseen complexities, and you will be billed accordingly.

Any unpaid invoices will incur a 1% monthly fee starting 45 days after the invoice is issued. 

We will maintain the privacy of all your tax documentation unless required to disclose information by law. Outside of legal obligations, no information will be disclosed to a third party without your written consent.

We look forward to working with you again this year.

I agree to the terms outlined above.


Client Signature


Client Name



Simplify Your Accounting Workflows with This Free Resource

Tired of spending endless hours manually creating and building workflow and process templates for your firm? Simplify your workload with our collection of 32 customizable accounting workflow templates and checklists. This free resource includes a ton of the most popular accounting templates including monthly bookkeeping, weekly accounting analysis, client onboarding procedures, and common tax return forms.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.
how to start a bookkeeping business

You’ve decided to open a virtual bookkeeping business, but you might be wondering how to get started. In this article, we’ll outline the steps to build your business so you can get up and running and build a full client roster.

But first, there is one action to take before you do anything else.

Naturally, getting paying customers is the most important part of starting any business, and this is also true for your own bookkeeping business. Getting your first client means you’ll have someone who can back your claims of offering high-quality and cost-effective services.

While the steps outlined below need to be completed at some point as you establish your business, getting your first virtual bookkeeping client should be the first thing you do. This way, you’ll be growing your reputation alongside building your business. 

Let’s get started! (You don’t need to complete the steps below in this order.)

14 Steps to Start a Successful Virtual Bookkeeping Business

1. Establish Your Company

You should figure out the business structure you want to create. Many bookkeepers start as sole proprietorships, meaning you work alone and provide all the services yourself. But you may also think about forming a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation.

The ideal business entity type for your virtual bookkeeping services will depend on your long-term goals and revenue expectations. Each state also has different rules for business taxes, so you’ll need to consider how state taxes would apply to your business.

If you are starting the company with a partner, make sure a partnership agreement is part of your business plan. This agreement ensures you are both on the same page concerning business operations.

Lastly, part of this process is picking a business name, which you should do with care. You’ll be using the name for years, so be sure it’s a professional and accurate description of your work.

2. Get the Necessary Licenses and Permits

Permit and licensing requirements vary by state and locality. 

If you’ve established a corporation or LLC, the entity needs to get registered with your state. Sole proprietorships do not require formation filings, though they often require business licenses.

Once you’ve formed your entity, you must apply for an employee identification number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN identifies your business and is separate from your social security number (SSN). An EIN is optional for sole proprietors, but it allows you to receive 1099s at the end of the year from your clients without giving them your SSN. 

You are required to register for a business permit in most locations. Fees vary from a few dollars to a percentage of revenue, depending on your business location. You should consider the licensing fees when deciding where to locate your virtual bookkeeping business.

If you plan on operating under a fictitious business name or several different names, you may need to file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) statement. DBAs can usually be filed with your county or parish.

3. Get Insurance

Business insurance will protect you from claims against your business, but you need the correct types of insurance policies. 

One of the most critical steps to take in your virtual bookkeeping business is to invest in professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. This insurance will cover you against claims you made a mistake in preparing a client’s books. The amount of coverage you need will depend on your client list. 

Professional liability insurance will protect you against errors, negligence, and omissions that may occur during your bookkeeping engagements. Your premiums will vary depending on what type of services you offer and your projected revenue. 

For a bookkeeping business just beginning, an insurance policy costs less than your daily cup of coffee. You should request quotes from several agencies to ensure you get a good deal.

You should also consider health insurance as an added expense, especially if you previously had health insurance through your employer. Replacing employer-sponsored coverage can be one of the most expensive costs of going into business for yourself. 

Many states require residents to have some level of health insurance coverage. Health insurance is a much sought-after benefit if you plan to hire employees. If your virtual bookkeeping firm has employees in several states, you may want to work with an insurance agent to find coverage that works for all your employees.

4. Create a Web Presence

Websites are essential for virtual bookkeeping firms. Without a website—and since you have no physical office—your business may appear to be fly-by-night. 

You do not need an expansive or expensive website to get started. You can create a simple website for less than $50, including the domain name. If you don’t have experience, you can find many predesigned websites online or have one put together for less than $500.

Extra: Building your accounting or bookkeeping firm remotely or have remote employees? Download our Definitive Guide to Remote Work for Accounting to ramp up the success of your remote firm.


5. Get Equipment

Starting up a virtual business doesn’t require ordering a bunch of office supplies. We no longer need ten keys or ledger paper, especially in a virtual bookkeeping firm. 

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any startup costs. You will need a complete office setup, including a good scanner and possibly a printer. You’ll need a reliable internet connection and a computer that can run accounting software quickly. 

Virtual bookkeepers juggle several files constantly. Having multiple monitors is key to working efficiently. You should also consider a reputable webcam and headset for client meetings. Sign up for meeting software such as Zoom or Teams.

6. Pick a Focus

Virtual bookkeeping firms have the benefit of being able to work with anyone regardless of their location. But do you have a specialty? Are you knowledgeable about specific types of businesses? 

Picking a focus is optional, but consider choosing a specific niche for your business. It allows you to target your advertising and outreach. You can rank higher in online searches by having a niche. 

You can base your niche on a specific location or specific profession. By becoming an expert in a particular area, you will complete your work more efficiently and potentially earn more for your expertise, all of which frees up time for you to work on getting more clients

Sometimes niches are created organically. If your current clients start referring you to other businesses in the same industry, you might end up in an unexpected niche.

7. Set Pricing

One of the first questions potential clients will ask is about your prices. You need to be ready to answer! Start by deciding how you are going to price your services

If you got into virtual bookkeeping for the freedom and flexibility, you might want to work off retainers, but you also have the option to bill hourly. You should consider the following questions when picking a billing method.

Do You Want to Track Your Time?

Billing hourly has been standard practice in the bookkeeping industry for decades. It can be a very profitable way to bill your clients. But there is a downside: you need to track how all your time is spent

There is also no reward for working efficiently since fewer hours means less billing. As a virtual bookkeeping firm, you’ll need to determine a reasonable rate for your clients, even if they’re located in other areas.

How Will You Handle Scope Creep for Fixed Payment Clients?

If you’d prefer not to bill hourly, you can set a fixed fee or retainer bill for each client. This method rewards you for working efficiently as long as you’re getting the work done. When you finish your work, you can stop for the day or focus on getting more clients.

The tricky aspect of this type of pricing is that it’s easy for the scope to expand. You need an engagement letter with your clients that clearly states any request outside the scope of your work comes at an additional cost. This way, your clients don’t monopolize your time.

Do You Have the Time to Bill Your Clients by Hourly Invoices Each Month?

Hourly billing is a lot of work. You need to review the hours billed to each client and invoice based on those hours. Make sure you have time to complete the invoicing each month if you decide to bill hourly.

8. Set Up Your Software

Be ready to do the work. Have all your accounting software subscriptions in place before you get a client. As your business expands and you add team members, you may need to reevaluate your software needs. 

Virtual bookkeeping firms also need several non-accounting software subscriptions. You should have PDF editing, presentation, and time management or workflow software. Microsoft Office Suite used to be a requirement, but many virtual bookkeeping businesses use the free Google Workspace products. 

For firms planning on holding virtual meetings with clients, you will want to invest in a Zoom Pro subscription to schedule longer meeting times with larger groups of attendees.

9. Track Your Expenses

Don’t forget to maintain your own books. It’s easy to get caught up in client work and neglect yours. Think of all you recommend to your clients and implement those same procedures for your business. 

Have an expense log ready, and track expenses paid through personal accounts. Set up separate accounts for your business, just like you’d want your clients to do. 

Keeping your books in good shape means you can spend more time working on your client files, especially at the end of the year when you’ll be extra busy!

10. Build Your Team

Most virtual bookkeeping firms start with the owner as the sole employee. But as your business grows, you’ll need more team members to support your clients. 

When you launch your business, be aware of people you meet who could add value as employees. Don’t limit yourself to only bookkeepers; you should consider adding administrative assistants or marketing specialists to your team. 

To preserve your time for expanding your business, think about how to outsource tasks to other team members. Outsourcing tasks might cost some money upfront but frees up time for running your business, working with your clients, and acquiring new ones. 

Don’t wait until the last minute to add a new team member. If you suspect you’re getting close to expanding, start looking! Give yourself time to find the right person and get them up to speed.

11. Implement a Project Management System

Virtual bookkeeping firms can’t rely on physical files to track their to-do lists. If your team is in different locations, you won’t always be able to see what they’re working on, so a to-do list won’t cut it.

Spreadsheets are an option. You could use Google Sheets or a shared Excel file to manage your team and allocate tasks. However, this method isn’t helpful if you have a large team. 

Consider a workflow management system like Jetpack Workflow. The right workflow management system can save you hours and allow you to monitor your team without micromanaging it.

Progress Report Tab Jetpack Workflow

12. Advertise Yourself

A virtual bookkeeping firm can’t rely on signs outside an office building to advertise itself. You need to find a way to put yourself out there. 

Think about various ways you can reach out to potential clients or get your business in front of them. Every contact with a business owner is an opportunity to land a new client. 

Business cards are a bit old school, but they still work well when trying to land a new client. Cards are great for in-person meetings if you have a local client. 

For virtual bookkeeping companies, your focus should be on online advertising. You can use Facebook or Google Ads, but consider social media options such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, which have also proven successful for some firms.
For more ideas, check out Jetpack Workflow’s suggestions on how to market your virtual bookkeeping business.

13. Network

Virtual businesses sometimes forget about networking, but several online platforms help businesses to meet and grow virtually. 

Credentials can also help you advertise your business. You should consider joining the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) or the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB).

14. Enjoy Your Success… But Keep Hustling

Get excited about your first client, then get back out there and find more. Keep your long-term goals in mind, and keep working towards them. Having a five- or ten-year plan allows you to track your progress and make adjustments along the way.

Keep looking at what’s working and what’s not. Check in with your team, and evaluate your software. Watch out for trends and new opportunities.

Be proud of your success, but keep moving forward!

Get a Head Start on Your Accounting Workflows with This Free Resource

Before you start spending endless hours manually creating and building workflow and process templates for your firm, check out our collection of 32 customizable accounting workflow templates and checklists. This free resource includes a ton of the most popular accounting templates including monthly bookkeeping, weekly accounting analysis, client onboarding procedures, and common tax return forms.

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.