Kip Soteres

How to Make Tax Season Less Taxing for Your Employees

Tax season is here, and you know what that means — most of your employees are either putting their taxes off until the last minute or are actively dreading the task of filing them. Between changes to the tax code and new benefits with tax implications, it’s easy for the season to be overwhelming.

Luckily, your employees have a great resource in the workplace to support them — you. Employers can play a significant role in tax season. How? Look to these four tips to help your workforce seamlessly navigate their tax requirements and get through the season without tearing their hair out.

1. Publish or Distribute a Tax Timeline

Help your employees get in front of things by communicating a brief timeline of key tax milestones. The schedule should include information like when employees can expect to receive their W-2 forms, when taxes are due and deadlines to apply for an extension. Consider also including recommendations about when to start gathering receipts or the best time to schedule a meeting with a tax professional (if employees aren’t handling their taxes themselves).

2. Focus Communications for Younger and Older Members of Your Workforce

Filing taxes can feel rote for many people, but younger employees may be going through the process for the first time. You can ease them into their taxes with FAQs and online resources to help young taxpayers understand how to approach their taxes.

On the other end of the spectrum, taxes can become increasingly complicated for workers nearing retirement. Older employees may have new options — such as being able to withdraw funds from their 401(k) without penalty when they reach age 59 and a half — and new hurdles to jump — like figuring out the best time to take the Social Security benefit and transition to Medicare. Tax information can get lost when bundled with broader communications preparing employees for retirement, so use tax season as an opportunity to provide focused information on how approaching retirement can affect employees’ taxes.

3. Make Third-Party Resources Available

Most organizations prefer not to place themselves directly in the role of tax adviser. Usually, companies decide that work is better managed by a third party. Depending on the needs of your workforce, you may want to bring outside vendors to your workplace, where they can conduct educational sessions or consult employees on their tax situations individually.

If on-site help doesn’t make sense for your organization, you can also negotiate free or discounted assistance with a tax service. Many employees prefer to file their taxes themselves, so negotiating discounted prices on tax software could be a hands-off way of supporting them.

Offering outside resources is also an opportunity to reframe what can be a stressful time for your workforce in a positive way. Promote these services as a way to be proactive about tax season and reduce the tension that comes with putting off taxes until the last minute. Emphasize that you as an employer are there for employees to make this time of year as simple as possible.

4. Leverage Existing Vendors

Many organizations already have contracts in place with third-party vendors to lend their expertise on investment and financial planning through learning management systems and employee assistance programs.

These same vendors often offer access to websites and services to boost employees’ financial knowledge, including individual counseling via phone or chat — and these resources can be a treasure trove of hidden tax help. You’re already paying for these vendors, so inventory their full offerings and make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. Once you’ve uncovered all of the underappreciated assets from these vendors, gather them together for your employees. Not only will this help employees understand the full breadth of tax advice available to them, it will also remind them of the other underused resources available through these vendors.

Tax season is busy and stressful, but it can also be a great opportunity to assess employee engagement. The more your workforce understands the total value of the benefits you provide them, the more they will appreciate having an employer that supports them. It’s common knowledge at this point that a strong benefits package is a key part of successfully retaining and recruiting talent. Why shouldn’t that go hand in hand with making sure your employees enter tax season with confidence?

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