Much like last year, the 2021 tax season will not just be business as usual. With the pandemic still keeping people at home and limiting most types of in-person contact, tax professionals need to be relying more than ever on tools and technologies that allow them to fully and effectively deliver their crucial tax preparation services from a distance.
Touchless service is the name of the game for the 2021 tax season. The good news is that there are a number of top-notch products and services today that make it possible to deliver hands-off tax preparation services without sacrificing quality.
Tax Preparation Software
At the core of nearly every tax practice is a reliable tech stack that includes critical tax and accounting software. Tax technology has evolved significantly in recent years, giving tax preparers a number of options when it comes to choosing the right tools to meet their personal workflows.
The following tax software options are some of the most highly regarded in the market. All of them incorporate automation features that support paperless workflows, which is a crucial component of touchless service.
- Intuit ProSeries Tax and Intuit ProConnect Tax Online
- Intuit Lacerte Tax
- Sage Accounting
- Drake Tax
- CCH Axcess Tax and CCH TaxWise
- Thomson Reuters UltraTax CS
Of course, there are many other tax products on the market today. The key is to find the one that works for the individual needs of your business. An important thing to keep in mind is the unique needs of your specific clients – do they operate in a niche industry that has uncommon tax requirements or do they have other unique financial demands? You want your tax preparation software to be capable of serving all your clients, no matter how simple or complex their taxes are.
Another thing to keep in mind is integrations. You of course want to make sure your chosen tax software integrates with the rest of your internal tech stack to create seamless workflows. You should also be familiar with the solutions and apps your clients rely on and choose tax software that allows your clients to benefit from integrations as well.
Every tax professional already knows that security is always paramount when it comes to handling clients’ accounting and financial information. While offering remote, touchless tax preparation services makes new levels of efficiency and convenience possible, it also opens up tax preparers and their clients to new security concerns. Email and other traditional means of communicating and collaborating simply aren’t good enough for something as sensitive as tax information.
It’s crucial that you have a way to communicate and exchange information with your clients that offers the highest levels of security. First, you need to provide a means of secure document sharing, whether that’s via a secure client portal, a client dashboard, or some other means.
Second, you need to make sure that all communications and other materials being sent and exchanged between accountant and client are encrypted. That way, if someone does manage to intercept your exchanges, your clients’ sensitive and confidential information will remain secure.
Filing and Signatures
Signing and filing taxes are two functions that remained manual even after tax technology entered the scene. In a hands-off world, though, you need to find alternatives.
E-filing is now incredibly common, even for people who do their own taxes at home. You should always be offering to e-file for your clients, and indeed insisting that they do so. Any modern tax software will support this.
Signatures should also be obtained electronically if you want to effectuate truly touchless service. Technologies like DocuSign and eSign have made electronic signatures commonplace, and this needs to be part of your entire touchless service package.
With the right tax tools in your tech stack, you’ll be in an ideal position to offer your clients the touchless service they need in today’s remote world.