Written by TaxSpeaker
Home of Ron Roberson our 2019 2-Day Federal Tax Conference Presenter! See Conference Details
My Dad always wanted to be an astronomer, but World War II and poor eyesight stepped in and derailed that plan. He pushed his son, who was blessed with better vision, to do the same, but his son’s vision wasn’t to study the stars but to travel among them. Once again, life intervened and his son’s NASA dream did not come true either. Neither father nor son were disappointed because it was their vision of where they wanted to go and the changes they made to try and get there that made life rewarding, not the dream that pushed them.
Most of us have just completed the most difficult tax season we have ever experienced in terms of complexity, time constriction, confusion, software issues and client awareness of their own income tax picture. If you have ever had the misfortune of reading Dante’s Inferno I think we visited 7 or 8 of the 9 circles of hell he talked about!
While thinking about a topic for our first post-season newsletter I realized that all of us have a vision of a perfect tax season in the future, and like a sunbeam peeking through a bank of low clouds in the overcast sky, this coming season will be our year of vision, of seeing where to go and then working to get there. This coming season’s goal is tax season 2020, the year of perfect vision.
2020. It gets your attention just stating it out loud. The word carries a level of power unmatched by most simple words in our language. Everyone knows its meaning. Let’s use that word as our goal for this coming season.
So how do we get perfect vision in our tax office’s future? Let’s look at some ideas.
- Intake of client data. Are you still setting up appointments, spending hours meeting with, interviewing and calling again and again for information? Consider how much time is spent in this archaic method of tax prep, and ask yourself do you really need appointments? We just completed our second tax season without a single client appointment. There has been no “fall-off” in clients, everyone followed the procedures we had setup to mail in or upload information to our portal, and they were given an advance date (goal for the client) to get us that stuff. Sure, we made some phone calls and chased down forms, but instead of hours and days wasted with disorganized clients we forced them to work our more efficient way.
- Data input. Have you embraced the latest tools of OCR that will scan, organize and even (if you wish) input basic client data without human intervention? Look at some of the powerful organizing and time-saving software tools out there from Gruntworx and others. They are practice-changers for uniform client workpaper organization and readiness for preparation, even if you do not use their input capabilities.
- Return preparation help. Are you still dealing with inexperienced help and trying to train them while doing returns? [Invest in your staff – give them access to ISCPA CPE to hone their skills.]
- Processing. Have you ever listed every step your office goes through from data collection to client pickup just to see what is being done? Have you analyzed it to determine if there is a better way or to remove unneeded steps? Do you really need to print, assemble, collate and provide printed returns to clients when they want an electronic version? Do you store their forms for them (Why?) instead of keeping it online on a portal? There are a lot of better ways to process and deliver than what was being used twenty years ago and the majority of them involve web portals and secure electronic data.
- Return delivery. Do you still have exit interviews? Why? We haven’t done them in thirty years. Consider delivery via mail, or much more efficiently, via web portal. I hear the old naysayers saying no, that won’t work for my clients. How old do you think I am-it works for my clients and has for forty years now.
2020-the year of perfect vision, begins by setting out what 2020 will look like in a perfect world: organized, time-friendly, profitable and un-extended. It recognizes that the perfect vision won’t be reached, but it helps by identifying the changes necessary to get there.