Accounting Wages Set New Record

Even as staffing growth hits the skids.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Employment growth in the accounting profession is flattening in many segments, and downright sliding from last year among staffers and in tax prep offices.

MORE ON JOBS: Accounting Salaries Hit New Highs | Tax Prep Services Slash 10,000 Jobs as Busy Season Begins | All Staffed Up? New Tax Prep Hiring Stalls on Eve of Busy Season | The Myth of the Staff Shortage | Regional CPA Firms Go Head-to-Head with Big Four in Talent Wars | Global Talent Wars Hit Home for Local Firms
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At the same time, hourly earnings are hitting new highs in several spots.

In this report, CPA Trendlines analyzes:

  • Current hiring trends in each of the bookkeeping, payroll, tax and CPA segments of the profession,
  • Average hourly earnings for each segment,
  • Average hours worked per week by segment and
  • Trends regarding women in the accounting workforce.

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Tax Pro E-Filing Market Share Drops to 57%

Chart of e-filings by tax pros 2010-2018Self-preparers make gains, but there are still new clients to be had.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

The 2018 busy season ended and tax pros lost a little bit more market share, following a trend that has continued nearly from the beginning of weekly IRS reports.

MORE ON TAX SEASON: Busy Season 2018: How Good Can It Get? | IRS in Retreat from Communities | SURVEY: New Tax Law Roils Busy Season

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As of April 20, the most recent week of reporting, e-filings of individual income tax returns totaled 124.5 million, up 1.9 percent. Tax professionals handled 71 million of those, down 0.8 percent. Self-preparers filed 53.5 million, up 3.4 percent.
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Tax Pros E-File 63 Million Returns through April 13

Chart of IRS filing dataAverage refunds remain positive even as totals are in the red.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

With less than a week to go, tax processing slowed slightly.

MORE ON TAX SEASON: DIYers Outpace Pros in E-Filing Growth Rate | Pros Filing 55% of E-Returns | IRS in Retreat from Communities | SURVEY: New Tax Law Roils Busy Season | David Bergstein on Tax Season | Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS | Artificial Intelligence Gets a Boost with Tax Reforms
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The IRS had received 118.6 million individual income tax returns as of April 13, the latest data available. That's up 0.1 percent from the same week in 2017. It had processed 114.8 million of those, down 0.2 percent.
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DIYers Outpace Pros in E-Filing Growth Rate

Chart of IRS filing data for week ending April 6, 2018Refunds remained down in number and total amount.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

With 11 days left in the busy season, the pros were struggling to keep their share of e-filings.

MORE ON TAX SEASON: Pros Filing 55% of E-Returns | Percentages Don’t Tell Whole IRS Filing Story | Tax Pros Keep Edge in E-Filings | David Bergstein on Tax Season | 10-Step Sec. 199A Deduction Checklist for Tax Practitioners | Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS
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As of April 6, the latest data available, the IRS had received 103.8 million individual income tax returns, up 0.1 percent from the same period the previous year. It had processed 101.1 million of them, also up 0.1 percent.
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Percentages Don’t Tell Whole IRS Filing Story

Chart of IRS filing data for the week ending March 23, 2018Tax pros slightly behind last year's pace, but still hold the edge in sheer numbers.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

By many measures, this tax season is slightly ahead of 2017's pace.

MORE ON TAX SEASON: Professionals Losing the Battle on E-Filings to DIYers | SURVEY: New Tax Law Roils Busy Season | David Bergstein on Tax Season | Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS | New Tax Law Roils Busy Season 2018 | Beware the EZ Way Out  | When Clients Face ‘Unreal’ IRS Audits
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The IRS had received 85.7 million individual income tax returns by the week ending March 23, the latest data available. That's up 0.5 percent from the same period last year.
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Professionals Losing the Battle on E-Filings to DIYers

Chart of IRS filing data for the week ending March 16, 2018But professionals still hold the edge in both number and percentage.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

With about a month left to file, individual income tax returns are slightly ahead of last year's pace.

As of March 16, the latest data available, the IRS had received 77.8 million returns, up 0.4 percent from the same period in 2017. It had processed 75.3 million returns, up 0.1 percent.

Returns were being turned around at a rate of 96.8 percent.

E-filings at 72.7 million are up 0.7 percent. The number prepared by tax professionals, 38.3 million, was down 0.8 percent, while the number that were self-prepared, 34.5 million, was up 2.5 percent.

The pros held 52.6 percent of the market.

Visits to IRS.gov continue at a much higher pace, up 24.6 percent to 288.3 million.

The IRS has issued 61.7 million refunds, down 1.2 percent. The total amount refunded is down as well, 0.2 percent, to $182.8 billion. But the average refund at $2,960 is up 1 percent.

Direct deposit refunds follow the same pattern – down in number, 54.6 million, and total amount, $168.8 billion, or 1.8 and 1.1 percent respectively. The average refund of $3,091 is up 0.7 percent.

Direct deposit was used for 88.4 percent of refunds.

 

Tax Pros Keep Edge in E-Filings

Chart of IRS filing statistics for the week ending March 9, 2018The IRS server load shows no signs of easing.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

CPAs are marking the days until the end of busy season and over on the receiving side, the wheels keep turning.

MORE ON TAX SEASON:  Half of E-Filings Go Through Tax Pros | David Bergstein on Tax Season | Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS | New Tax Law Roils Busy Season 2018 | Beware the EZ Way Out | When Clients Face ‘Unreal’ IRS Audits | Underfunded IRS Swamped with Problems

As of March 9, the latest data available, the IRS had received 69.5 million individual income tax returns, up 0.1 percent from the same period in 2017. It had processed 67.2 million returns, down 0.2 percent.

The processing rate for returns was 96.7 percent.

E-filings totaled 65.3 million, up 0.5 percent. Tax professionals filed 33.5 million of those, up 1.8 percent, and 31.8 million were self-prepared, up 3 percent. READ MORE →

Accounting Hiring Stalls; Salaries Hit New Highs

Even as firms trim payrolls, especially in tax prep.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

After heady gains, the accounting profession is doing some backsliding. How worried should we be?

MORE ON JOBS: Tax Prep Services Slash 10,000 Jobs as Busy Season Begins | All Staffed Up? New Tax Prep Hiring Stalls on Eve of Busy Season | The Myth of the Staff Shortage | Wages Up, Headcounts Down at Tax & Accounting Firms
GoProCPA.comExclusively for PRO Members. Log in here or upgrade to PRO today.

In this report, CPA Trendlines analyzes:

  • Current hiring trends in each of the bookkeeping, payroll, tax and CPA segments of the profession,
  • Average hourly earnings for each segment,
  • Average hours worked per week by segment and
  • Trends regarding women in the accounting workforce.

READ MORE →

Half of E-Filings Go Through Tax Pros

IRS filing data for week ending March 2, 2018Direct deposits down from their usual range.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

With a full month of tax filings in the books, there aren't any surprises.

MORE ON TAX SEASON:  IRS E-Filing Stats Approaching 2017 Levels | Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS | Artificial Intelligence Gets a Boost with Tax Reforms | Tax Pros Keep Gaining in 2018 | New Tax Law Roils Busy Season 2018 | Tax Pros Gain Slight Ground in E-Filings | Tax Pros Turning in Only 39% of E-Filings | Beware the EZ Way Out  | IRS #FAILs at Online Services Spell Problems for Professionals | Can the IRS Improve Its Phone Service? | When Clients Face ‘Unreal’ IRS Audits | IRS Warns about Private Debt Collectors for Tax Season 2018 | Underfunded IRS Swamped with Problems
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By the end of week 5 on March 2, the IRS had received 61.2 million individual income tax returns, up 0.1 percent from the same period last year. It had processed 59 million, down 0.1 percent.
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IRS E-Filing Stats Approaching 2017 Levels

Chart of IRS filing data for the week ended Feb. 23, 2018Tax pros continue to increase their share of the market.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Taxpayers are keeping the IRS hopping.

MORE ON TAX SEASON:  Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS | Artificial Intelligence Gets a Boost with Tax Reforms | New Tax Law Roils Busy Season 2018 | Beware the EZ Way Out  | IRS #FAILs at Online Services Spell Problems for Professionals
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Even with six fewer days so far, the number of individual income tax returns filed in 2018 had nearly met 2017 levels by the end of week 4.
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