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Step by Step Procedures - T1 / T2 / Others

Hello community,

We are preparing some training material for our new employees.
Has anyone ever worked on a step by step procedures for T1 and/or T2 and/or other preparation?


My work is generally too complicated and varied for that sort of thing. When I have a new employee I walk them through how to use the software on a dead simple tax return, then then let them try one with me watching (also dead simple), then let them try one using just the prior year file as a guide. Once they get reasonably good at following the prior year file then I introduce them to new client files. By the end of tax season they can generally handle anything that comes through my office - very few of which are dead simple slips only tax returns. I’d love to have some sort of check list but never seem to have enough time to create one for each of the various types of tax returns that I do.


I will be working on this in August so I have given this topic some thought. So, here are a few tips or suggestions:-

  1. Create a per client checklist based on Yes / No / Prorated for all the forms and fields.

  2. Consider building this out as a master checklist for possibilities.

  3. Consider using a Trello board or Asana as you build this out. These are much easier to build and use than excel. Once these are locked in place then you can create office standard procedures.

  4. Consider using the CCH Wolters Kluwer guide, Preparing your tax return & Preparing your corporate tax return as the more detailed guide. The back has a very detailed tax preparation checklist.

  5. Consider that it takes years and sometimes thousands of tax returns to master data entry and tax preparation. Checklists will never replace training module, experience, and going deeper into interactions of various forms, claims, transfers or optimization.

For this you might consider supplementing with training from one or more of the following:-

A) Video Tax News -

B) Knowledge Bureau -

C) H+R Block -

When I managed a Liberty Tax office we prepared a one week T1 tax preparation training for our seasonal community college staff. This training was based on course material, scenarios, manual paper return completion, with labs using our tax software.

We used six family scenarios. Started simply. Built out the scenarios.

We had a tax client intake form. Each student started with completing the client intake form. First they shadowed. Then they took the intake with a coach. Then they completed on their own. Once their intake forms were well done without omissions or errors, then they moved to simple returns data entry. They usually remained in the position for their first season unless they had prior tax or bookkeeping experience.

We had a checker.

We had a second reviewer.

We had an efiler and a discount check creator.

When I worked as a sub-contractor at a CPA firm, the workflow varied by firm. The bigger the firm the more detailed to process or workflow. No checklists. No training. No resources. Nothing but time sheets, access to the client prior year tax documents, the paper file of the current year documents, and the tax software. It was up to me to know everything and to do everything. I had access to one reviewer, one tax practice manager for advanced questions, and the partner to whom the tax client belonged if and as needed.

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Having a little difficulty understanding the exact concern?

If you are speaking about the software, give them a sample dummy file and let them play around with it, maybe by getting them to add and change some representative data, which you can then check to see if they completed properly… You could track a standard input model(s) and a standard output model(s).
Also, Taxcycle has quite a bit of online resources posted, and also has webinars available.

However, if you are speaking about Tax Law…
…Lets be realistic here…
The “step by step guide” for preparing tax returns is the Income Tax Act…
and they are not going to master that in one easy afternoon, or even numerous years of easy afternoons…

The responsible partner is responsible for everything that goes out the door, and therefore that responsible partner is the one IMHO that should have his/her proper “procedures” checklist to ensure that the tax returns are properly prepared according to the Income Tax Act before going out the door…

If one assumes that the “new employees” do not have a clue about tax, their involvement is much more safely limited to some basic easily understood instructions, for example:

  1. Pick up slip from the envelope
  2. If slip is a T4 slip, enter the details in the boxes indicated on the Software’s T4 screen
  3. Make a note of anything to be brought to the attention of the Senior
  4. Go back to (1) and Repeat
  5. When slips are all entered, save file and give the file to the Senior for review and completion

I’m with Joe, and I’m far from being an “accountant snob”. There are lots of competent bookkeepers who do reasonably straight-up tax returns just fine.

If they have no tax training (and I include there the people at H&R and similar orgs…I worked there one year in my…ugh…thirties… and was absolutely shocked at the overall lack of knowledge) they simply should not be touching tax returns except for simple slips. And even those should be checked because even the simple slips can give rise to queries (wrong SIN on RRSP/RRIF, wrong t/p for CPP Death Benefits, shared % on T3s, T5s, T5008s without ACBs…). More work than it’s worth trying to fix them up.

The step-by-step guide is called “experience”, and it’s best fortified by “knowledge”.

I’ve seen lots of CA returns that are indescribably awful and incorrect, let alone from rank amateurs and newbies.

Of course, someone with knowledge just trying to learn how the software works is a totally different issue, as they should have a reasonable idea as to what end results should look like.

When I started working in public practice (2012) I made myself a step-by-step procedure for corporate year-ends, which included preparing the T2. However, 80-90% of that procedure dealt with what to ask my manager, what to get from the client, and how to prepare financials in Caseware. The T2 was basically the last step in the “corporate year-end” process. I haven’t updated that document in years, so most of it wouldn’t be relevant anymore - particularly since I now use TaxCycle instead of Profile.

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Thanks for everyone’s feedback.

@SmallBizGuy and @joe.justjoe1 I see what you are saying and largely agree with you.

The idea is really to have on paper the basic technical tasks that are recurring on every tax returns (probably the most basic ones). We aim to ensure consistency in the information provided to new employees and save some time on the training process. I agree not all information can be included in these types of documents, but we hope to include the more recurring technical tasks.

Hi Dominique! :slight_smile: Wow, thank you, this is extremely helpful! Thanks :slight_smile: