Payroll Agencies Lead Jobs Growth in the Tax & Accounting Industry

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"The opportunities for CPA firms only increase."

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By Beth Bellor

"It’s a good time to be a CPA," says Brian Esko, and – with some notable exceptions – it's hard to disagree.

The managing director and executive recruiter at Parker & Lynch and Ajilon Search points to an unemployment rate of roughly 1.5 percent for accounting, almost 300,000 new jobs created over the last 12 months and wages rising at roughly 3 percent annually.

MORE ON JOBS: Hiring Trends: Accounting Hits 4.2% Expansion Rate | Hiring Trends Flash Warning Signs of Slowdown in Tax & Accounting | CHARTS: Tax & Accounting Among Biggest Jobs Creators in U.S.
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Esko

"For a CPA, there are more opportunities than ever in the market and companies are doing a better job of rewarding and retaining their people through compensation increases and internal growth opportunities," Esko says.

In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

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

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Hiring Trends: Accounting Hits 4.2% Expansion Rate

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Payroll services, women continue to do well.

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By Beth Bellor

Slow but steady growth is the trend for most of the accounting profession, according to the latest research from CPA Trendlines.

MORE ON JOBS: Hiring Trends Flash Warning Signs of Slowdown in Tax & Accounting | CHARTS: Tax & Accounting Among Biggest Jobs Creators in U.S.
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In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

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

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Hiring Trends Flash Warning Signs of Slowdown in Tax & Accounting

CPA firm staffing and wage growth signal weakness.

By Beth Bellor

Not only are several sectors in the tax and accounting industry charting new records in employee numbers, but wages often are up as well, according to new CPA Trendlines research.

MORE ON JOBS: CHARTS: Tax & Accounting Among Biggest Jobs Creators in U.S.
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But key indexes are flashing signs of a decelerating expansion, possibly augering a slowdown, or even cutbacks, in the months to come.

In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

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

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Tax Pro eFilings Down for 2019, IRS Reports in Final Tally

Data chart

Taxpayers' average refund cut by 2.7%.

By Beth Bellor

As most Americans' tax filing deadline came and went, the number of refunds was up but the average amount was down.

MORE: Tax Filings: Everything Up but Refunds | What’s the Real Impact of IRS Audits? | Why Shouldn’t All Tax Practitioners Need Licenses? | Fixing the Tax System: Accountants Sound Off | Hello, IRS? Anybody Home? | Tax Season 2019 Serves Up a Taste of the Future | The Demise of Schedule A? | Tax Refunds Up 1.7%
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The IRS had received137.2 million individual income tax returns as of the week ending April 19, the latest data available. It had processed 130.8 million returns; both figures were up by 0.2 percent from the same period in 2018.
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Hiring Surge Powered by Growth in Payroll Agencies

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Tax & accounting industry adds 40,500 new jobs to hit new record.

CPA Trendlines Jobs Report
Who's hiring, who's not, and why?
Who quitting for a new job & when?
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By Beth Bellor

Payroll is proving to a bright spot and women are making some impressive gains in our look at employment in the accounting profession. The latest CPA Trendlines Jobs Report also finds that tax preparation services employment spiked in March, even when seasonally adjusted.

MORE ON JOBS: Tax Shops Bulk Up for Big Busy Season | Jobs Report: 43,000 New Hires | Tax Shops Cut 6,200 Jobs | Tax Shops Cut Staff by 10% | Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction | Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay

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In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

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

Typically, one respondent tells the CPA Trendlines Jobs Report said she's "Not actively looking" for a new job, "but maybe I could be persuaded." The reason: "Not comfortable with direction firm is taking."

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Tax Filings: Everything Up but Refunds

Data chartPros handled 57% of e-filings.

By Beth Bellor

With only three days left in the tax season, things finally were looking up.

MORE: What’s the Real Impact of IRS Audits? | E-Filing Pace Quickens Toward Finish | Salary Survey Shows Pay for Tax Professionals | 2 Ways the EITC Error Rate Is High | Tax Pro E-Filing Off 2.7% from Last Year’s Pace | Tax Season 2019 Serves Up a Taste of the Future | The Demise of Schedule A?
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All the figures were positive ... except the one of most interest to many taxpayers. Refunds not only were in the red, but on every point by larger percentages than last week. The picture was slightly better for direct deposit refunds, but even there, average refunds dropped.
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E-Filing Pace Quickens Toward Finish

Data chart
YTD April 5, 2019. IRS.

Average refund remains down.

By Beth Bellor

As tax season entered its final days, a few positives brightened the data that generally have been bleak all year.

MORE: Why Shouldn’t All Tax Practitioners Need Licenses? | Data Divers Profile Taxpayer Filing Styles | 2 Ways the EITC Error Rate Is High | Tax Pro E-Filing Off 2.7% from Last Year’s Pace | Tax Season 2019 Serves Up a Taste of the Future | The Big Free-File Flop | The Demise of Schedule A? | Survey: Busy Season Goes Sour | Lessons Learned: How the Federal Shutdown Hit Busy Season 2019
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As of April 5, the latest figures available, the Internal Revenue Service had received 103.5 million individual income tax returns, down 0.3 percent from the same period last year. It had processed 100.6 million of them, down 0.5 percent from 2018, for a 97.2 percent processing rate.
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Refund Amounts Remain Lower than 2018

data chart
Cumulative through week ended March 29

Tax pros handling 54.3% of e-filings, down 2 points from year ago.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines Research

The pace of 2019 remains behind that of 2018 on most counts as the tax season stumbles to a close.

MORE: Who’d Like a Friend in the IRS? | Hello, IRS? Anybody Home? | Tax Pro E-Filing Off 2.7% from Last Year’s Pace | Tax Professionals File 38 Million Returns | Refunds Still Up, but Only by 0.7%
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The IRS had received 92.9 million individual income tax returns as of the week ending March 29, the last data available, down 1.4 percent from the same period last year. It had processed 90.3 million returns, down 2 percent.
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Tax Pro E-Filing Off 2.7% from Last Year’s Pace

Chart of IRS dataAverage refunds down 1%.

By Beth Bellor

As we wind down the misery that is the 2019 tax season, figures are down all over.

MORE: Wanna Change The Tax World? | Tax Season 2019 Serves Up a Taste of the Future | Tax Professionals File 38 Million Returns | The Big Free-File Flop | The Demise of Schedule A? | Refunds Still Up, but Only by 0.7%
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The number of direct deposit refunds is up, but otherwise the only "positives" are self-prepared e-filings and IRS website visits, hardly bright news.
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Tax Professionals File 38 Million Returns

Data chartMore than DIY'ers, but still behind last year's pace.

By Beth Bellor

Many tax filing statistics remain on the negative side, but tax prep professionals hit a bright spot as they began outnumbering the DIYers.

MORE: The Big Free-File Flop | The Demise of Schedule A? | Refunds Still Up, but Only by 0.7% | Survey: Busy Season Goes Sour | Tax Refunds Up 1.7% | Lessons Learned: How the Federal Shutdown Hit Busy Season 2019 | Tax Refund Fury Roils Busy Season | Taxpayer Advocate Slams Congress over Funding

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As of March 15, the latest data available, the IRS had received 75.9 million individual income tax returns, down 2.5 percent from the same time last year. The agency had processed 73.5 million returns, down 2.4 percent.
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Refunds Still Up, but Only by 0.7%

Chart of filing dataE-filings are nearly evenly split between the pros and the amateurs.

By Beth Bellor

The gloomy season continues. The IRS is slower than ever before, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act didn't simplify our lives, and after all the work we put in, we face clients who are upset about their refunds. Everyone got an eye on their countdowns?

The Internal Revenue Service had received 67.7 million individual income tax returns as of March 8, the latest data available, down 2.5 percent from the same period in 2018. It had processed 65.3 million returns, down 2.8 percent. READ MORE →

Tax Refunds Up 1.7%

Table of IRS filing statistics for the week ending March 1, 2019
Data for the week ending March 1, 2019, the latest available

Professionals hold 48% of the e-filing market.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

With the first March filing results in, tax season has leveled off considerably from the first rushes.

MORE: Lessons Learned: How the Federal Shutdown Hit Busy Season 2019 | Lessons Learned: How the Federal Shutdown Hit Busy Season 2019 | Refunds Rebound, Up 1.3% from Last Year | Tax Refund Fury Roils Busy Season | Tax Pro eFiling Drops 12.5% after Shutdown
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The IRS had received 59.2 million individual income tax returns as of March 1, down 3.2 percent from the same week in 2018. It had processed 56.9 million of those, down 3.7 percent.
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Refunds Rebound, Up 1.3% from Last Year

Blanton

But filing remains sluggish and tax pro market share loses 1.5 million filers.

BUSY SEASON BAROMETER
Today's Bonus Question: How to fix the IRS?
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By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Four weeks into tax filing season, we're seeing some positives.

MORE: Tax Refund Fury Roils Busy Season | Tax Pro eFiling Drops 12.5% after Shutdown  | Tax Shops Bulk Up for Big Busy Season | 16 Big Questions for Tax Season
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Is it a misleading positive because we're just now seeing refunds that include the EITC and child tax credit? Mmm, maybe. But after a gloomy first few weeks, we might be willing to take whatever good news we can get.

"We're definitely off to a slower start this year.," CPA and financial planner Brian Blanton in Carmel, Ind., tells the CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer. "Clients are behind in sending in tax information compared to last year."
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