Fillable PDF Client Organizer Streamlines Tax Processes
Thursday, Jul 15, 2021 by SafeSend
Necessity is the mother of invention. You may have heard this phrase, but there hasn’t been a time in recent history that bred necessity like the pandemic. While the tax and accounting profession has experienced small technological advances over the years, COVID-19 has demanded fast change. Looking back, it’s interesting to see e-filing has been in practice for more than 30 years and e-signatures are allowed on a growing number of documents. Not to mention, the temporary IRS e-signature authorization that was put into place due to the pandemic has been repeatedly extended, most recently through Dec. 31, 2021.
The tax and accounting profession has been historically rooted in paper processes that have continued to work, albeit somewhat cumbersome, throughout the years. But the sudden shift to the way our entire society operates and delayed tax deadlines, meant firms were scrambling to move employees into a remote work environment. In many instances, the technology was not in place to run the office from home. Likewise, taxpayers’ expectations changed. They wanted to be served safely from the convenience of their home.
After the chaos of getting taxes filed by the extended July deadline, it was obvious that the organizer season would be different as well. Doing things, “same as last year,” was not a viable option. SALY would mean printing and mailing paper organizers, and clients coming into the office. First, no one was even in the office! That’s where the printers were, and firms realized they couldn’t print paper organizers out of each administrator’s home; they weren’t set up to facilitate that process. Second, as an alternative to paper, staff working from home didn’t always have remote access to generate an organizer out of the tax software system and get it printed to a PDF. Ultimately, firms were struggling to find new technologies for digitally disseminating and retrieving client organizers efficiently and in a way that was also user-friendly for clients.
Some forward-thinking firms identified this problem and contacted SafeSend in the summer of 2020. They needed a fillable PDF client organizer solution that worked.
Digital Organizers: The Next Step in Automating Tax Workflow
Firms know that many clients disregard the organizer, leaving the information and source document gathering process for face-to-face meetings at the office. But the pandemic put a halt to in-person meetings and the need for clients to complete the organizer increased exponentially. However, using PDFs in a remote environment was clunky and a lot of work:
- Send PDF to client
- Client prints PDF
- Client completes organizer, by hand
- Client scans completed organizer (if possible)
- Client electronically sends scanned document back to firm via email or portal, OR
- Client mails printed and completed document back to firm
Whether returned via mail or portal, manual data entry of the client information into the firm’s tax software program was still required. So, the creation of a paperless, fillable PDF client organizer became the priority for SafeSend.
Finally! Fillable PDF Client Organizers
“We have always known that client organizers were one of the biggest, paper-ingrained solution processes in the tax engagement life cycle,” explained Andrew Hatfield, SafeSend’s co-founder and Chief Growth Officer. “The pandemic caused a sudden shift. Our clients came to us and said, ‘We have to do it digitally; we’re in trouble.’ We sprang into action immediately. Helping firms in the tax and accounting profession is always our top priority and we knew organizers had become a massive problem for firms of every size.”
Creating SafeSend Organizers so firms can easily send fillable PDF client organizers is just one piece of the tax engagement puzzle. Eliminating the manual, tedious work at every client touchpoint through automation is the ultimate goal of the SafeSend Suite. Freeing staff from time-consuming, repetitive tasks means there is more time to focus on building and fostering client relationships.
Hatfield explained, “It was an extremely difficult development process due to the vast amount of fillable information and the document size. Some fields had to be required, others were not. Some fields had to be decisions with drop downs, some had to be a fillable text field. Prior to SafeSend Organizers, nobody had come up with a good product to do that,” Hatfield said. “Quite frankly, we have never launched a product that fast. It started in the summer, and we had it out for organizer season.”
The Trend Toward Digitizing and Automating the Entire Tax Engagement Life Cycle
While society shifts from unprecedented times back to normal, it is increasingly clear that normal does not mean SALY. Many business practices will never be the same as last year, or any year prior. But when there is a paradigm shift such as this, it is not just a firm’s responsibility to shift. Technology providers and other vendors must also shift and adapt to provide support for firms and their clients.
You Asked, We Delivered
There may not be another situation in the foreseeable future that will cause such societal melee, but thanks to necessity, going forward, firms will save time and money normally spent printing and mailing paper organizers because of these innovations.
Digitally fillable PDF client organizers increase the organizer return rate and decrease the frustration experienced by admins. SafeSend Organizers is part of the SafeSend Suite which automates every client touchpoint across the tax engagement.
To experience how paperless client organizers can help your firm and clients, sign up for the SafeSend Organizer group demo!