New Job Cuts at CPA Firms and No Recovery in Sight

Payroll remains the hardest-hit sector.

By Beth Bellor

After shedding 77,800 jobs in April, tax and accounting employers have added back 45,300 employees, but the total headcount has dipped again and remains down by 32,300 from the pre-COVID level, according to the latest data reviewed by CPA Trendlines.

MORE ON JOBS: COVID Job Toll: Tax & Accounting Cuts 17,500 Employees | Firms Recall Half of Furloughed Staffers | Covid Kills 67,600 Jobs in Tax and Accounting | Pre-COVID-19, Accounting Profession Hits New Highs | Planning for the Coronavirus Recession
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In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

  • Current and long-term 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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COVID Impact: 17,500 Tax & Accounting Jobs Lost

Tax and Accounting Headcount, Year-to_year Percentage Change. July 2020
In the red: Tax and accounting headcounts, year-to-year percentage change.

Cutbacks fall hardest at payroll agencies.

By Beth Bellor

Overall, the total number of employees in the tax and accounting sector is dropping again, but not nearly as dramatically as at payroll agencies.

MORE JOBS & HIRING TRENDS: Firms Recall Half of Furloughed Staffers  | Covid Kills 67,600 Jobs in Tax and Accounting | Pre-COVID-19, Accounting Profession Hits New Highs | Headcounts Dip by 3,500 in Tax & Accounting | Tax & Accounting Headcounts Hit Record High  | Hiring Growth Rate Shows Signs of Leveling Off | What Staffing Shortage? | Payroll Agencies Lead Jobs Growth in the Tax & Accounting Industry  | Hiring Trends Flash Warning Signs of Slowdown in Tax & Accounting | Hiring Surge Powered by Growth in Payroll Agencies |

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The payroll segment lost almost 15 percent of its jobs in the latest data collected by CPA Trendlines Research. In some consolation, though, those who are left are seeing record new earnings.

In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

  • Current and long-term 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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Down by 400,000 Returns – The End of Tax Prep?

Red Alert: Tax professional e-filings drop by 0.5% year-to-year, first year-to-year decline ever.

Final IRS stats for Busy Season 2020 shows professionals filed 0.5% fewer returns than last year and lost market share to DIY’ers.

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By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines Research

In what may be an alarming turning point for the profession, tax practitioners finished an already chaotic and bruising Tax Season 2020 after preparing a total of 73.8 million e-filed returns – a decline of 400,00, or 0.5 percent, from Tax Season 2019 – the first such reversal on record. Ever.

Jon Baron

MORE on TAX SEASON 2020: Say Hello to the New 24-Month Busy Season | When COVID ‘Got Real’ | Tax Pros Hold eFiling Market Share as Tax Seasons Winds Down | The Top Six IRS #FAILS this Tax Season (So Far) | How COVID Has Pulverized IRS Operations | The Mystery of 10 Million Missing Tax Returns | COVID Cuts Accounting Profits | Why Busy Season May Never Be the Same Again | COVID Tests Accountants’ Entrepreneurial Talents | Pro Tax Prep Stalls to a Crawl amid Covid-Extended Season | Clients, Revenues, Profits – Trending Down, Down, Down |

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“If you are in public accounting and relying on personal return revenue, the results this year are troubling as it is the first time that professionally prepared returns actually fell from the prior year,” says Jon Baron, the longtime CEO of Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting, and now a venture capitalist with more than a couple startups in stealth mode.

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Tax Pros Hold eFiling Market Share as Tax Seasons Winds Down

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Refunds up but barely.

BUSY SEASON BAROMETER:
Congratulations! You survived Tax Season 2020!
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By Beth Bellor

As the extended 2020 tax season drags to a close, nearly all the touchpoints remain in the red.

MORE: Tax Pros Take Bigger Share of E-filings | The Mystery of 10 Million Missing Tax Returns | Tax Pro E-Filings Down 20 Percent | IRS Web Traffic Doubles over Year-Ago | COVID Drowns IRS in New Filings | 2020 Tax Season Comes to a Screeching Halt | The Tax Season 2020 Dumpster Fire | Tax Pros Fall Behind 6.2% in Returns Filed | Tax Pros Trail by 908,000 Returns | Tax Pro IRS Filings Lag by 532,000 | Tax Pro E-Filings Lag by 512,000 Returns | Tax Pros Kick into High Gear | Slow Start for Tax Pro E-filing | Data Points Down as Tax Season Opens | The Fight for New Tax Clients
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The Internal Revenue Service had received 142.4 million individual income tax returns, down 2 percent from the same period in 2019, as of July 3, the latest data available. It had processed 130.6 million returns, down 9.5 percent.
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Firms Recall Half of Furloughed Staffers

Total tax and accounting employees, in thousands, over the last 18 months. (CPA Trendlines Research)

Just in time to finish tax season.

By Beth Bellor

Got whiplash? Job sectors that saw figures plummet in last month’s report are seeing them climbing back, albeit not as quickly.

MORE: The Mystery of 10 Million Missing Tax Returns | Pro Tax Prep Stalls to a Crawl amid Covid-Extended Season | Planning for the Coronavirus Recession | The Tax Season 2020 Dumpster Fire | |  Covid Kills 67,600 Jobs in Tax and Accounting  | Pre-COVID-19, Accounting Profession Hits New Highs

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The tax and accounting industry has quickly added back about half of the jobs lost in the COVID-19 shutdown – just in time to finish the hyper-extended tax season, according to the latest CPA Trendlines Jobs Report. But what happens next is anybody’s guess.

In this report, CPA Trendlines analyzes:

  • Current and long-term 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

READ MORE →

Tax Pros Take Bigger Share of E-filings

Refunds up, but not by much.

By Beth Bellor

Ever so slowly, the professionals are closing the gap with the DIYers in tax preparation.

MORE: The Mystery of 10 Million Missing Tax Returns | The Tax Season 2020 Dumpster Fire | The Fight for New Tax Clients
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The Internal Revenue Service had received 139.9 million individual income tax returns as of the week ending June 26 – the latest data available – down 3.5 percent from the same period in 2019. It had processed 128.5 million returns, down 10.6 percent.
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The Mystery of 10 Million Missing Tax Returns

data chartWhile tax professionals’ efiling pace remains stalled, DIYers grow by 4 million.

BUSY SEASON BAROMETER:
How accountants are battling the Coronavirus recession
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By Beth Bellor

With less than a month to go before 2020’s extended tax deadline, the grind continues.

MORE: Tax Pro E-Filings Down 20 Percent | IRS Web Traffic Doubles over Year-Ago | COVID Drowns IRS in New Filings | 2020 Tax Season Comes to a Screeching Halt | The Tax Season 2020 Dumpster Fire | Tax Pros Fall Behind 6.2% in Returns Filed
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And the question is: Where are 10 million tax returns that should have been filed by now by professionals?

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Tax Pros Start to Gain Ground in E-Filings

Refunds one of the only bright spots.

By Beth Bellor

Tax pros may be down for the year in e-filings, but they remain ahead of the do-it-yourselfers.

MORE: The Mystery of 10 Million Missing Tax Returns | COVID Drowns IRS in New Filings
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The IRS had received 138.3 million individual income tax returns as of the week ending June 19, the latest data available. That’s down 4.4 percent from the same period in 2019. The agency had processed 126.6 million returns, down 11.4 percent.
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Pros Filing More Returns than DIYers

Chart of IRS tax return data for the week ending June 5, 2020… in the tax season that never ends.

By Beth Bellor

Bleak but slightly less so.

MORE: Tax Pro E-Filings Down 20 Percent | IRS Web Traffic Doubles over Year-Ago | COVID Drowns IRS in New Filings | 2020 Tax Season Comes to a Screeching Halt | The Tax Season 2020 Dumpster Fire | Tax Pros Fall Behind 6.2% in Returns Filed | Tax Pros Trail by 908,000 Returns
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That’s probably the best way to categorize the trends in the most recent data from the Internal Revenue Service.

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