Does your firm’s tax workflow still look like it did in the days of old? If so, you may be risking your firm’s reputation with a process that’s inefficient, prone to error, and under the constant threat of a security breach. Do any of these tax preparation workflow steps still sound familiar? If so, you have plenty of time to streamline your work before busy season hits once again.
- Get the Rolodex out and call client to schedule a planning appointment. Multiple phone calls and/or games of phone tag may be required.
- Client comes to office and drops a shoe box full of receipts on desk. Client swears that all the information is there, but you know in your heart-of-hearts that it is not.
- Sift through the shoe box, making copies of any items you feel are relevant to the return. Sort the copies into the appropriate order. Manually index the pages.
- Give the fingers a good stretch and begin manually entering data into the return from multiple source documents such as W-2s, 1099s, K-1s and lots and lots of receipts.
Repeat Steps #3 and #4 multiple times as additional information trickles in.
- Print a review copy of the return. Print again when you realize you missed something. Print again when you realize you forgot to recalculate after printing the second time. Give to the reviewer.
- Brew a pot of coffee and start the tax return review process. Lots of stops and starts as you flip through source documents to verify data entry, do some tax research, and call the client to request missing information, verify data, ask questions, etc.
- Send multiple printed copies of the return (e.g., firm copy, client copy, government copy) to the processing staff. Manually insert, remove and collate pages according to firm policy. Bind the return. Repeat this entire process when the massive stapler jams and mangles the printed return.
- Make an appointment with the client to deliver the completed return (takes multiple phone calls), see them in the office, explain the return to them, get a signature, and finally give it to them with instructions to get it to the post office by 11:59 p.m. on Apr. 15. Oh yeah … and be sure to include enough postage.
- Add the tax return and supporting documents to one of the hundreds of file cabinets — in alphabetical or client number order — to be stored for future reference.
- Move files to dead storage every couple of years to free up space in the filing cabinets. Pray that you will never need to find them again once moved to dead storage.
Tax compliance has not gotten any simpler, but your workflow can be much smoother with a bit of technology. Find out more by downloading our whitepaper: Tax Preparation in the Cloud (PDF).