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?
Join the survey. Get the results.

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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Tax Refund Fury Roils Busy Season

Data chartMore than 10 million Americans affected.

How would you fix the IRS?
Join the survey. Get the results.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

We're three weeks into tax filing season,  the data from the IRS remains mostly glum, and tax professionals are facing clients angry and confused by their smaller-than-expected refunds.

MORE on BUSY SEASON: IRS in Crisis: Tax Professionals Bear the Brunt  |  Tax Pro eFiling Drops 12.5% after Shutdown  | Taxpayer Advocate Slams Congress over Funding | BUSY SEASON: Accountants Worry for U.S. Economy | Tax Shops Bulk Up for Big Busy Season | BUSY SEASON: The Busiest Ever? | Survey: Tax Season Launches with a Whimper | 16 Big Questions for Tax Season | SURVEY: Tax Accountants Alarmed by TCJA & Shutdown
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For the week ending Feb. 15, the most recent statistics available, the only figure on the plus side is the one accountants least want to see – individual income tax returns filed by self-preparers. Boo! Let's tell ourselves they would have been the least profitable clients.
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1.6 Million Tax Clients Gone Missing?

Chart of tax filing data for the week ending Feb. 8, 2019
^ Tax filing data for the week ending Feb. 8, 2019

Opening days show accountants filed only 40% of IRS intake. Blame the shutdown.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

The IRS might have rushed into action as soon as the government shutdown ended, but it still is feeling the effects as all filing statistics remain on the downside two weeks in.

MORE: BUSY SEASON: Accountants Worry for U.S. Economy | Tax Shops Bulk Up for Big Busy Season | BUSY SEASON: The Busiest Ever? | Survey: Tax Season Launches with a Whimper | 16 Big Questions for Tax Season | SURVEY: Tax Accountants Alarmed by TCJA & Shutdown

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As of the week ending Feb. 8 – the latest data available – the Internal Revenue Service had received 28.8 million returns, down 6.9 percent from the same week in 2018. It had processed 27 million returns, down 10.2 percent, for a processing rate of 93.8 percent.

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Tax Shops Bulk Up for Big Busy Season

Wages hit new highs.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

New hiring in the tax and accounting industry may be slowing in many areas, but the latest CPA Trendlines Jobs Report finds gains overall. Up is up and we'll take it.

MORE ON JOBS: Jobs Report: 43,000 New Hires | Tax Shops Cut 6,200 Jobs | Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay | Accounting Wages Set New Record | All Staffed Up? New Tax Prep Hiring Stalls on Eve of Busy Season | The Myth of the Staff Shortage
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Jobs Report: 43,000 New Hires

Hourly pay averages $33.53, up 4%.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

As 2019 dawns, the most stunning trends in hiring in the tax and accounting industry is in payroll services, which shows year-over-year increases of 7 percent or more in overall employment, according to an exclusive CPA Trendlines analysis. Meanwhile, tax prep continues its slow slide.

MORE ON JOBS: 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 | Growth Slowdown: Tax & Accounting Hiring Rates Hit Headwinds | Steady Gains in Hiring at Accounting Firms | Accounting Wages Set New Record
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In this report, CPA Trendlines reports:

  • 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 Shops Cut 6,200 Jobs

Signs of a hiring slowdown? Payroll agencies trim hours.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Are the heady days of hiring spikes over? Maybe, but the accounting profession still scores far more positives than negatives, according to a new CPA Trendlines analysis.

MORE ON JOBS: Tax Shops Cut Staff by 10% | Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction | Steady Gains in Hiring at Accounting Firms | Tax Prep Services Slash 10,000 Jobs as Busy Season Begins | Tax & Accounting Wages Up 4% | Accounting Profession Shows Steady Growth | Accounting Profession Growing, But Slowly
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New records are being set in overall staff, in payroll staff, and in bookkeeping. Tax preparation services, meanwhile, continue to shed employees. And payroll agencies are cutting back on hours worked.

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 Shops Cut Staff by 10%

Is this any way to prepare for tax season 2019?

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Accounting remains part of the general upturn in professional and business services employment, according to the latest data from CPA Trendlines research. Payroll remains a bright spot, especially for women, while tax prep grows ever gloomier.

MORE ON JOBS: Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction | Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay | Accounting Wages Set New Record | All Staffed Up? New Tax Prep Hiring Stalls on Eve of Busy Season
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Chart of overall profession employment
^ Overall profession employment

 

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

READ MORE →