Getting Accurate Tax Data From QuickBooks Online
Recently, I talked with Jill Ulett, the secret identity behind the heroically named virtual CFO service, Accounting Girl. Jill told us how the cloud helps her ensure her clients are prepared for tax season – long before it hits.
Mindy King: What made you decide it was time to move to the cloud?
Jill Ulett: I run my business virtually, and working from the desktop, I could only access my clients’ computers on certain days at certain times. As my practice grew, I knew I needed a better solution. And after weighing the alternatives, I chose QuickBooks® Online (QBO).
Mindy: Do you feel like you made the right move?
Jill: Absolutely. Logging in remotely from the desktop or visiting my clients in person, I’d see things after they were already done, and then I’d have to go back and troubleshoot. Working in the cloud, I see transactions as they happen, and I can be sure they’re categorized correctly.
Mindy: What role do you play when it comes to tax season?
Jill: I support my clients’ tax accountants, their CPAs – and my goal is to make sure that things are really easy for them. All they should have to do is make a few line item adjustments. However, my work really starts a long time before that. I try to help my clients understand how their transactions today affect their business come tax time.
Mindy: So it’s about being proactive?
Jill: Yes, it really is. And working in the cloud makes it a lot easier to show my clients the tax implications of their business practices ahead of time. I can help them make decisions that enable them to get the maximum deductions. I can steer them toward tax breaks and even prevent them from being audited. For example, I can catch it if they’re putting office supplies under dues and subscriptions, then I can talk to them about why they can’t do that, explain the consequences and help ensure it doesn’t happen again. All this happens in real time, before it’s too late.
Mindy: And then you also interface with the tax accountant on your client’s behalf?
Jill: I can be the liaison, but it’s a much better relationship if we all work together and stay on the same page. I love that QuickBooks Online Accountant helps me collaborate with my clients! It creates real transparency, because my client, the accountant and I can all be looking at the same numbers at the same time. There’s no file to pass back and forth, and no lag time.
Mindy: Do you find that leads to greater efficiency?
Jill: Absolutely. Especially with the Audit Trail feature in QBO. Accountants really appreciate that. If they have a question about a transaction, they can just click and see a PDF or a JPEG of the actual receipt. If they have a question about changes in one of my client’s numbers, I can use that same audit trail to see where and when the change occurred without any searches.
Mindy: Has the cloud helped you grow your practice?
Jill: Yes, it has. I can work with industries and people I would never have been able to otherwise. I’m in St. Louis, but I have clients all over the country … in Texas, Hawaii and just about anywhere else. I would never have been able to do that without this technology.
Mindy: Did you face any resistance from clients when it came to transitioning to the cloud?
Jill: One source of resistance I faced was around the fact that cloud solutions work as subscriptions. That was a bit of a barrier I had to get past with some clients, but when they see the benefits the cloud offers, and when they experience the value of real-time collaboration and the level of service they get, then they start to see it as a worthwhile investment.
The way I have my practice set up now, all my clients have to be in the cloud or willing to migrate.
Mindy: So you’re clearly all in. What would you say to other accountants who are considering moving to the cloud?
Jill: I would encourage everyone to at least try it. Play around with the sample files. See what it can do for you and how it can help you serve your clients better. At the very least, it’s a chance to expand your knowledge base.
We have all this amazing technology. If we can use it to help businesses grow, then why not?