E-Signing 8879s & Other Documents without Frustration
Wednesday, May 19, 2021 by SafeSend
There may never be a tax season that you run to with open arms across a field of wildflowers, but that does not mean you have to dread it or the process of collecting signed 8879s. Believe it or not, it is possible for an e-sign solution to take the frustration out of e-signing 8879s when it is built specifically for the tax and accounting profession!
The E-Sign Circle of Frustration
No one wants to hit a dead end in the process of e-signing 8879s or any other tax-related documents. But there are plenty of snags that can happen which may leave you feeling like you are smack in the middle of an endless loop of frustration.
- Issues with a spouse email address
- Placing e-signature boxes on the electronic form
- Dealing with SPAM and Junk folders
- Clients that can’t authenticate through KBA
- And so many other little bumps that cause BIG frustration!
Download our E-Sign Circle of Frustration infographic and see where your biggest challenge lies!
Hundreds of millions of tax returns and supplemental documents are filed every year. Over 253 million Federal tax returns and supplemental documents were filed in 2019 alone. The number of forms filed electronically continues to grow and has grown exponentially with the COVID-19 pandemic. While about 90 percent of taxpayers file electronically, there are still challenges with technology when expectations do not align with reality, for example when spouses share an email address. Many generic e-signature solutions won’t be able to advance beyond this hurdle.
SafeSend Returns only requires one email address. Once the taxpayer has reviewed the return, if a spouse’s signature is required, the taxpayer will be asked to provide an email address for their spouse. It can be the same email address if they share an account! The spouse will receive an email notification asking them to sign their forms electronically. The transmission is sent to the spouse with a unique set of Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA) questions and verification code to verify the spouse’s identity even if they both share the same email address. This process confirms each spouse is signing the tax return independently.
Another plus is that once an email address has been entered into SafeSend Returns, it is retained in the system for future communications. No more hunting down email addresses!
Communication Issues with Clients
Sometimes the biggest challenge is understanding what your clients are experiencing when it comes to your e-sign solution and what you need to do to solve it. How are your client and their spouse using email addresses? Many e-sign solutions are not recognized by your client’s email system and it’s likely that your request for e-signing 8879s ends up in a spam or junk mail folder – never to be seen again!
You should also ask if you have set the correct expectations for when e-signing 8879s should be complete. A large portion of precious tax-season time is spent by you or your staff making client calls to follow up on unreturned forms. Stop chasing e-signatures by using a solution built specifically for tax and accounting firms.
Lack of Security
Sensitive tax-related information calls for security; the more secure the better. Occasionally a client needs documents sent to a third party, such as a bank or other financial institution. What typically happens is they attempt to log into a client portal to access the documents and cannot remember their password. So, they call you, the firm.
After several password reset attempts – and a whole lot of frustration – the client asks you to just email the documents to them. To keep client information protected, you go through the steps it takes to encrypt each file and set up password protection before emailing them. But even then, your client can’t access the files. Completely exhausted, it’s not uncommon for firms to finally give up and send the files unencrypted and totally unsecured. While this may be what the client wants in the short term, sending unsecure files is never a good solution short- or long-term.
What circle of frustration would be complete without a good ol’ request for a password reset? When tax time rolls around, even the most tech-savvy clients can forget passwords they only use once a year. That means you or your administrative team spending valuable tax-preparation time on resetting client passwords. Even if you have a system that uses KBA questions, when a client is unable to answer them correctly, some e-sign solutions boot them out of the signing process, and they are left with no other choice but to call your office to find out the next steps.
Why Generic E-sign Solutions Don’t Work for Firms
Generic e-sign solutions are just that, generic. They have simple features meant to appeal to many people in many different industries. That may sound good at first, but when put into practice, you find that a one-size-fits-all solution leaves lots of holes in your firm’s process.
SafeSend Returns® & SafeSend Signatures™
SafeSend Returns and SafeSend Signatures were designed specifically for the tax and accounting profession and make the e-signing process simple for 8879s in the tax package as well as one-off documents sent separately. The result is a solution that fits like a glove because it is tailored to your firm’s specific needs!
These powerhouse e-sign solutions work together to facilitate a streamlined customer experience. With SafeSend Returns, the process for e-signing 8879s is simplified because they can be sent right along with the tax return, eliminating multiple emails. SafeSend Returns also makes all documents viewable right on screen. This means clients can easily scroll through all the pages whether they are using a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer without having to download a pdf.
SafeSend Returns securely delivers tax returns and stores them where the client has access for seven years. This is a life saver when clients need to provide a copy to a mortgage lender, banker, or college for financial aid. When they call you asking for a copy, because they will, you can fill those client requests with one click. Now that’s a good solution short- and long-term!
The clear navigation throughout the SafeSend Return process is clean and straightforward. It even includes an option to send a secure copy of the entire document, or only select portions such as vouchers or the tax return!
SafeSend Signatures compliments and extends the e-sign capabilities of SafeSend Returns beyond tax returns to all document types. You can customize your engagement letters, then mail merge and batch process thousands of them at the click of a button with SafeSend Signatures. Built with a user interface just like SafeSend Returns allows you to offer your clients an experience that is familiar, intuitive, and consistent. Meanwhile, on your end, reporting and tracking documents that require signatures is streamlined and automated.
SafeSend Signatures is an optional module for SafeSend Returns users, specifically designed for sending one-off documents that require a signature, such as engagement letters or consent forms. The reporting and tracking of documents that require signatures is live – every click they make within the system is tracked. This means real-time status of every document all the time!
Choose a Solution to End the Frustration of E-Signing 8879s
With generic e-sign solutions, when a client does not clear the KBA questions, they are kicked out of the system and forced to call your office for assistance. An e-sign solution that automatically offers an alternative if KBA fails, along with providing clear instructions on how to complete the process, means satisfied clients and relieved staff.
SafeSend Returns offers a seamless transition from failed KBA questions to an alternate option of printing, signing, and returning along with clear, step-by-step instructions to walk them through the process. This eliminates, “What do I do now?” calls, giving your firm more time to focus on processing taxes and less time fielding calls.
Time-Saving Benefits and Peace of Mind
Save time with automated reminders when you use SafeSend Returns. Clients receive reminder emails if they have outstanding documents that require signing and returning. They also receive reminders when estimated tax payment due dates are approaching. The reminders have settings built right in so you never have to remember to send reminders, but the timelines can be adjusted to fit your firm’s individual needs.
Have peace of mind knowing the email your clients receive alerting them that their return is ready is coming from your firm’s email with your firm’s branding, not a third-party vendor. The look and feel of the process will be familiar even if they received the engagement letter in November and their tax return in April. This consistency enhances the client experience. No one wants their clients to end the tax season muttering, “At least I don’t have to do that again for another year,” when they can be thinking, “That was easy!” So easy, your staff and clients just may feel like skipping through that field of flowers.
With one solution that not only meets all your needs but includes your firm’s branding, your client will easily recognize communication from you. Their experience is familiar from engagement letters in the fall or winter, to tax returns in the spring. The streamlined user interface boosts completion rates and lowers unnecessary client calls resulting in more productive office time for you and your staff.
Choosing SafeSend Returns and SafeSend Signatures means you will be utilizing a system that is so intuitive your clients will go through the process of e-signing 8879s and other documents without frustration. With automation at every touch point of the tax engagement process, each tax season will come out smelling like roses!
Schedule Your SafeSend Returns Demo Today
SafeSend Returns is 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.