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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Tax Return Filings Still Lag, But Pros Hold 57% of Market

Chart of IRS filing data for the week ended Feb. 3, 2017
[Click for larger image]
Four days fewer in 2017 still skewing statistics.

The IRS continues to churn back tax returns nearly as quickly as it receives them, while the percentage that were self-prepared is tracking higher than the same point last year.

MORE: Tax Filings Down, but IRS Blames the Calendar | SURVEY RESULTS: Bullish on Busy Season 2017 | 2017 FEE SURVEY: Price for Non-Itemized 1040s Advances 6% to $176
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With 20.18 million returns received as of Feb. 3, the latest data available, the agency had processed 19.97 million or 98.9 percent of them.
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Tax Filings Down, but IRS Blames the Calendar

Chart of tax filing data for week ending Jan. 27
[Click for larger image]
Tax pros make up 38% of e-filings.

Next Question: How's Tax Season So Far?
Join the Survey; Get the Results

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

It’s a shiny new tax season, and that means more shiny new filing data from the IRS.

MORE TAX SEASON 2017: FREE INSTANT DOWNLOAD: Sample fee schedule for 1040s   |   Tax Filings Down, but IRS Blames the Calendar   |   Survey Results: Busy Season 2017 Gets Off to Strong Start   |   2017 FEE SURVEY: Price for Non-Itemized 1040s Advances 6% to $176   |   The Annual Tax Meeting is Dead. Clients Killed It.   |   Reader Sound-Off: Mandatory Saturdays Stir Controversy

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Of course, since it comes from the IRS, it also has its own set of footnotes and qualifiers. For one, even though we’re comparing the week ending Jan. 27, 2017, with the week ending Jan. 29, 2016, the 2016 figure included four more days of tax return processing – although when comparing identical numbers of days, 2017 marks an increase. For another, the new law requiring a hold on refunds involving the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit until Feb. 15 is skewing early season refund numbers and dollar amounts, because many taxpayers claiming these credits are early filers. READ MORE →

Reader Sound-Off: Mandatory Saturdays Stir Controversy

Commenting on “mandatory Saturdays,” clockwise from top left: Stitely, Boress, Michel, Evarts

Is it work-life balance, or firm-employee balance?

Sound-Off: Does your firm mandate Saturdays?
Join the conversation here.

By Beth Bellor
CPA Trendlines

Tax season has yet to start and already tempers are flaring in the CPA Trendlines Comments section as practitioners debate requiring staffers to work on Saturdays during busy season.

MORE ON STAFFING: Making Flex Time Work in the Real World | Guidelines for Flexible Work Policies | Do Flexible Hours Help or Hurt Us? | SURVEY: 97% of Leading Firms Now Offer Flexible Work Arrangements | The 12 Reasons Your Staff Hates Your Firm | Staffing: What CPA Firms Are Learning the Hard Way

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In "How to Make Mandatory Saturdays a Thing of the Past," CPA Trendlines contributor Jennifer Wilson says the "cool firms" are eliminating the age-old practice nd replacing it with flex-time, work-at-home, and results-oriented strategies. Still, she says, "I literally hear a gasp of surprise because it challenges one of the most fundamental elements of public accounting – tracking, measuring and valuing time."

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