10 Steps to a Superior Tax Department

Running a CPA firm tax department may be a dream role for many professionals or a nightmare. If it is your dream or your responsibility, here are 10 imperatives to be a successful tax department director at a CPA firm.


  1. Create a job description which is mutually acceptable to you and management and update it annually.

  2. Generate an annual business plan for the department highlighting sources of revenues and talents necessary.

  3. Design a comprehensive tax resource platform and asses it. If you don’t have resources internally to address certain tax areas or specialties, find outside resources and hold them accountable.

  4. Be familiar with the top 10 clients for each of the partners in the firm, and make sure they are getting “A” level talent and service from the tax group.

  5. Keep technology and efficiencies at the forefront. Participate in technology forums and seek out business futurists to keep you and your key players aware of what is coming down the pike.

  6. Implement personal development plans for all members of the group. Written and presentation skills are vital so the more practice and preparation the better.

  7. Mandate maintenance by all member of the group of a journal to note five key lessons learned each week and what the impact will be.

  8. Define an “A” client and “A” service and monitor performance.

  9. Require minimum production targets for each group member – by type of project, revenue and turnaround time.

  10. Be a knowledge hawk. Make sure research is warehoused and available for sharing. Have subject matter experts stay sharp and be sure that there is a community awareness of your expertise and ease of access.

Running a tax department is not for everyone and often is a true challenge for succession at a CPA firm. The right firm will mentor and assist with transition but the motivation and commitment needs to be with the person to be in charge. Taking over the department as an outsider can be exciting and even more rewarding but also brings a set of imperatives to succeed that would work along with our outline.


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If you are interested in learning more about leading a tax department, contact Ira Rosenbloom, Optimum Strategies.


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