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Busy season – in the tax and accounting profession, those two words are synonymous with long days, late nights, and short or non-existent weekends. Sometimes that “crunch time” can also mean missed family events and un-walked dogs. Busy season is that time of year when you may wish you could clone yourself to get everything done and still have a personal life (or at least get a decent night’s sleep).

The good news is that automating many of the processes in your firm throughout the tax engagement can provide almost the same relief and add valuable time back into your day. Automation is becoming a common and important tool in the accounting profession. With today’s technology, there are several ways to automate tax and accounting processes to take the edge off busy season.

Embrace the Rise of Automation in Tax and Accounting

The optimization of processes once performed manually is a valuable function of automation and one that is highly beneficial to the tax and accounting profession. Manual tasks are time consuming and leave room for human error. Automating steps will not only save time but will reduce or even eliminate mistakes.

The use of automation has been growing across professional tax preparation since the ESIGN Act was enacted by Congress on October 1, 2000. While technology has been driving the implementation of automation by leaps and bounds in many other industries, it hasn’t been until recently that tax and accounting professionals have seen an exponential increase in automation technology and client collaboration tools available. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the need for automation and digitization in this historically paper-driven industry became painfully obvious. Dated processes and legacy workflow methods suddenly became an obstacle for firms.

Artificial Intelligence Helps Automate Tax and Accounting Processes

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is contributing to the transformation of the profession, it is doing so in a way to help employees, not replace them. AI is lending a hand in the automation of procedures, allowing staff to process more returns in a shorter period of time through:

  • Increased productivity
  • Streamlined processes
  • Improved workflow efficiency

With the intuitive information that AI provides, tedious and repetitive administrative tasks are optimized. This frees up time normally spent printing, organizing, labeling, and mailing out tax packages, from engagement letters and organizers to the final delivery of the tax return. When you automate tax workflow processes, and every client touch point throughout the entire tax engagement life cycle, physical handling time is reduced. Staff is then able to focus more on serving clients, which builds, fosters, and solidifies relationships.

According to Sage’s The Practice of Now 2020, 83% of accountants agree that the effects of technology and digitalization are ongoing and have required investment to keep pace with the market. Additionally, the shift in focus to the data analytics that AI can provide is helping accountants as they also expand their services to include more of a financial advisor role. In a profession where business is historically conducted the same way year to year, the change from offering tax preparation to offering financial advisory services to clients may feel sudden. Yet, 82% of the accountants surveyed by Sage agreed that client expectations have grown to include more of this advisory role.

Data Analytics and Automation

When your firm utilizes AI for data analysis, the data that your organization collects is better. Data analytics can swiftly track trends such as the number of returns processed, or the number of extensions filed – allowing your firm to make informed decisions.

You can harness the power of automation with the SafeSend Suite. This dynamic suite of solutions lets your firm automate client touchpoints across the entire tax engagement life cycle. Engagement letters and 8879s can be batch processed, e-signed, and returned with the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen. Save time, money, and exponentially increase the number of organizers that clients return with SafeSend Organizers. This digital solution allows you to collect information and source documents digitally, no shoebox required!  SafeSend Returns provides the vehicle to cruise through busy season and automate the assembly, delivery, and collection of e-signatures for client tax returns.

Trends in the Tax and Accounting Profession

Even prior to the pandemic, the tax and accounting profession reflected a digital shift. Here are some of the top trends that are finding a permanent place in progressive firms.

Using Social Media

Just like social media has helped family and friends stay in touch, getting social on channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn helps tax and accounting firms stay in touch with clients and attract young professionals. Social media also increases your firm’s exposure. Posting articles on subjects that add value for your client base not only positions your firm as an expert in the field, but further develops the business relationship you already have with them. A growing number of firms have a presence on social media. It is amazing to think that social media companies have created careers that were nonexistent 15 years ago!

Continuing Professional Education

We know that continuing professional education (CPE) is required for CPAs to maintain, but educational options are a great way for all tax and accounting professionals to stay sharp. Peer-to-peer networking and learning through group alliances, publications, attending conferences and webinars increase opportunities and knowledge.

As a solutions provider, client pain points help guide our free educational offerings and product enhancements. It’s the number one reason we’re focused on automating every client touch point across the tax engagement. Our goal is to make working remotely and client communication easier for your firm.

Automate your firm’s tax processes and make busy season easier by incorporating automation solutions, with a focus on streamlining the tax and accounting workflow. The SafeSend Suite is a digital solution that provides the tools to eliminate dated processes. Tedious tasks and manual work no longer need to monopolize precious time during busy season. With automation, pain points are reduced or eliminated. The result? A busy season that may still be busy but gets you home in time for dinner and to walk the dog.

Schedule a SafeSend Returns Demo

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SafeSend Returns is the flagship solution in the SafeSend Suite and a multi-year winner of the CPA Practice Advisor Technology Innovation Award. SafeSend Returns eliminates the manual, labor-intensive elements many tax departments experience producing client-ready tax returns. 

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