For tax and accounting professionals, the last year and a half has been like riding a roller coaster backwards in the dark – every twist and turn an unknown. Not only that, achieving work-life balance has been next to impossible with each new tax-related hoop to jump through or roadblock to work around. Tax automation is a technology solution that alleviates tedious processes and makes manual work easier. What does that mean for you and your firm? More time.
Time is the key factor in a healthy work-life balance. But when work demands more and more hours in your day, there is less and less time for harmony between work and life. When you think about the entire tax engagement, there’s sending engagement letters, time spent gathering information and source documents and, once the tax return has been prepared, assembling, delivering, and collecting signed e-file forms. All the time these tasks take can add up quickly. The recent shifts in filing deadlines by the IRS due to the pandemic have made one busy season flow into another leaving little, if any, down time for anyone. Incorporating tax automation into your firm workflow reduces manual, labor-intensive tasks and allows staff to have time back, making them happy and healthier and improving employee retention.
Tax Automation Across the Tax Engagement
While there are many steps in the tax engagement life cycle, specific client touchpoints can be a source of frustration. Sending engagement letters, collecting client organizers and source documents, assembling and delivering the completed return to the client for review, collecting an e-signature on the 8879, and receiving the tax package back in a timely fashion for e-filing. Tax professionals and admin staff see the benefits that tax automation offers at each phase, including time saved and the appreciation firm admin have for taking control of this process.
Gather with Digital, Fillable Client Organizers
The road to collecting the information and source documents necessary for preparing tax returns has long been a tedious, paper process. Printing the client organizer from the tax compliance software, mailing them out, and then waiting for clients to complete and return them via snail mail was a combination of manual labor and patience. Often, organizers were not returned at all or tax professionals were physically going through a shoebox of receipts and papers in-person with the client.
When the world changed and working remotely became the norm, firms tried to go paperless by emailing large organizer PDFs. Unfortunately, that ultimately put the burden on clients. The only way to complete it was to print it out, fill out the information, then scan and return it via email or physically mail it back to the firm.
SafeSend Organizers converts your static organizer PDF to a fillable form and firms are excited about digital client organizers that really work. This breakthrough technology in the tax automation process is part of the SafeSend Suite, a collection of automation solutions that help firms address the needs of their clients all year long.
Automate Assembly & Delivery and Make Firm Admin Smile
The last mile of the tax engagement life cycle has historically been a paper-heavy process as well. Not only was it cumbersome to print the entire tax package, collate and assemble, staple, add the “sign here” stickers, and mail it out to clients, but it was also frustrating for firm staff to wait for 8879s to be returned in order to file with the IRS.
The introduction of portals for PDF transmission eliminated some of the actual hands-on paper process. But it added the new time-consuming task of fielding client calls to reset forgotten passwords – a frequent occurrence since clients often only logged in once a year.
SafeSend Returns is a better solution. More than a portal or e-signature solution, SafeSend Returns streamlines the assembly and delivery process. It uses automation to collate and organize the digital tax return, just as you would in the paper world. It has an intuitive client interface that walks your clients through the review and e-signing process, step-by-step. Plus, you can use tracking and reporting features to know exactly where all your clients are in the review process. Clients never have to remember a username or password to access their completed return. Knowledge-based authentication (KBA) is used to grant access and their return is stored and available to them for seven years!
“We lucked out when we found SafeSend Returns. The program has significantly changed the workflow of our office, in a very positive way. The program was very simple to use to deliver returns to our clients and our clients found the program easy to review their returns, e-sign their forms and make payments.”
– Stuart Lerman, Lerman Business Services
Tax Automation Reduces Waiting & Chasing Down E-Signatures
Hurry up and wait. It’s never fun. Once documents have been delivered, whether it’s an organizer or a completed tax package ready for signature, waiting for the client to complete and return it can be a chore. But as any firm admin can attest, waiting for the return of those documents is an active process. In fact, it’s a task in itself. Keeping track of which clients have returned documents, which documents are still outstanding, then making calls and sending email reminders to get the signed documents returned can monopolize several hours a day and be extremely nerve wracking.
“It has reduced the amount of time that it takes to deliver a tax return and, because of the automatic reminders it sends out, it also eases the burden of having to track down e-file forms that aren’t getting returned by clients.”
– Eric Morgan, BiggsKofford, P.C.
Automated reminders within SafeSend Returns and a batch reminder option within SafeSend Organizers save admins from hours on the phone or manually sending email reminders. SafeSend Returns and SafeSend Organizers both include document tracking and reporting that can turn the last mile of the tax engagement from a waiting game to racing down the homestretch.
Automation and Enhanced Work-Life Balance
There is no way to put more than 24 hours in a day. With tax automation, tasks like tracking down un-signed 8879s become a thing of the past. Freeing up time for you and your staff can feel like adding hours to your day, giving you time to reorganize your professional projects and personal pursuits. A better firm work-life balance can be achieved using tax automation.
What would you do with more time? Are there family events that you’ve been missing? Is planning a vacation the closest you ever get to taking one? Could you offer more advisory services or take on more tax clients?
Utilizing tax automation solutions can speed up and streamline the tedious tasks that have historically monopolized a lot of hours. When the last mile of the tax engagement – and even the upfront process of information gathering – is automated, your firm gets time back. Firm staff are happier when they aren’t frazzled. Employee morale improves and retention increases with the smooth, consistent, and standardized process that the SafeSend Suite of tax automation solutions provides.
If you enjoy roller coasters, there will be time to ride them by choice, in great weather, with your hands in the air feeling the rush of excitement and thrill of getting some time back to spend how you want to spend it!
Schedule Your SafeSend Suite Demo Today
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.