Tax Season Half Over but No One Is Celebrating

Office worker spraying silly string on colleaguePros are gaining ground in e-filings.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

We’re halfway through tax season! Woohoo, blow the party horns!

MORE TAX SEASON DATA: Tax Pros Filing Only 51% of E-Returns | Tax Refunds Up Slightly | Tax Filings Data Looking Less Squirrely | Tax Return Filings Still Lag, But Pros Hold 57% of Market | Tax Filings Down, but IRS Blames the Calendar
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Where’s your horn? You don’t seem to be celebrating. What up, dog?

Filing statistics are down, and some of you aren’t shy about suggesting why.
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Tax & Accounting Industry Shows Signs of Slowdown

Join the survey. Get the results.

CPA firms, payroll among brighter spots.

Who's Hiring, Who's Not?
Join the survey. Get the reasons.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Accounting employment in most sectors is on the upswing, but the hikes that sometimes reached into the double digits in 2016 appear to be leveling off, even after adjusting for busy season differences, according to a new CPA Trendlines analysis.

MORE ON JOBS: ANALYSIS: Global Tax Talent Shortage Mounting into ‘Perfect Storm’ | Accountants without Borders: Tight Talent Pool Drives Salary Increases Nationwide | New Staffing Strategies for the Next-Generation Accounting Firm

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Gains over 5 percent were seen only in the number of women working in payroll services.

In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

  • Current hiring trends in each of the bookkeeping, payroll, tax and CPA segments of the industry.
  • Average hourly wages for key segments
  • Typical hours worked per week
  • Trends concerning women in the accounting workforce

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Tax Pro E-Filing Down 10%

Chart of IRS filing data
[Click for larger image]
Refunds are the only figure tracking higher this year.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

The e-filing margin between tax professionals and self-preparers is narrowing. Still, the pace of e-filing by tax professionals is running 10% behind the same time last year.

MORE TAX SEASON DATA: Tax Refunds Up Slightly | Tax Filings Data Looking Less Squirrely | Tax Return Filings Still Lag, But Pros Hold 57% of Market | Tax Filings Down, but IRS Blames the Calendar
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As of March 3, the IRS had received 61.1 million individual income tax returns, down 8.5 percent from the same period last year, although 2017 has had four fewer processing days so we’re comparing oranges to tangerines.
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Tax Refunds Up Slightly

Chart of IRS filing data
[Click for larger image]
Everything else is down.

Now that tax refunds are flowing out steadily, they are ever so slightly higher than last year.

MORE ON TAXES: Tax Filings Data Looking Less Squirrely | Tax Return Filings Still Lag, But Pros Hold 57% of Market | Tax Filings Down, but IRS Blames the Calendar
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That’s the only filing statistic on the positive side, though. Four fewer reporting days than at the same time last year has most markers down around 10 percent.
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Where the Jobs Are (and What You Need to Get Them)

Salaries, job openings and unemployment rates
Salaries, job openings, and unemployment rates

BONUS: Salary ranges and top markets.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Everyone knows there are jobs to be had in the accounting profession. But exactly where are they, and how much do they pay?

MORE ON JOBS: CPA Firms Post 5% Growth Rate | How to Set Your Firm Apart to Recruits
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According to new CPA Trendlines research, the number of accounting and finance jobs available now tops 200,000. Where they geographically vary by position.
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CPA Firms Post 5% Growth Rate

Tax and accounting industry hits 1 million workers, capping more than 25 years of sometimes volatile expansion. Shown: Workforce in thousands, monthly, 1990-2016.

Tax & accounting hiring trends for 2017:
Join the survey, get the results 

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

It’s still a great time to be an accountant, according to new CPA Trendlines research. But watch the long-term trends carefully. All the gains are not always what they seem at first.

MORE on STAFFING: The 16 Biggest #FAILs in Delegation |  SURVEY RESULTS: Effective Stay Interviews for CPA Firms |  SURVEY: Work-Life Balance: According to Whom? |  NEW SURVEY RESULTS: Two Ways Your Strategic Plan Can Reduce Turnover  |  Managing Partners’ Favorite Staffing Strategies  |  NEW RESEARCH: CPA Firms Hiring More, Paying Less  |  JOBS REPORT: Hiring Up. Wages Down.  |  The 12 Reasons Your Staff Hates Your Firm

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Year over year, CPA firm staffs are growing by 4.7 percent while payroll overall is increasing at a 4.6 percent rate. The number of tax preparation employees is falling, however, 12.5 percent for the latest month,  but up 3.2 percent for the year. Women are making some large year-over-year gains as well – 4.8 percent at CPA firms and 12 percent at payroll services.

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Tax Filings Data Looking Less Squirrely

Chart of IRS filing data for week ending Feb. 10, 2017
[Click for larger image]
Some refunds remain unreported, but filings are catching up.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Year-to-year differences in tax filing data are starting to level off.

MORE: Tax Return Filings Still Lag, But Pros Hold 57% of Market | Tax Filings Down, but IRS Blames the Calendar
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Four fewer reporting days in 2017 skewed results at first, but statistics for the week ending Feb. 10 show a difference in returns filed of around 17 percent, about half the 33 percent decline that led off the season.
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