How to Move Your Tax Practice to the Cloud
If you are a firm of the future, chances are, your accounting practice is already in the cloud. Perhaps you use QuickBooks® Online Accountant or even a cloud document management system. In a recent survey, we found that many accountants are already using these two tools in the cloud, with 64 percent of accountants using cloud accounting software and 45 percent using cloud document storage.
With tax season around the corner, now is the time to look at the tax part of your practice still on desktop and consider moving it to the cloud. Our survey shows that this is where future-focused accountants still have a lot of room to grow, with only 16 percent of accountants using tax preparation software. Here are three key types of tools to consider moving to the cloud to help future-proof your tax practice, enabling you to do taxes anywhere, and ensuring there’s nothing to install or maintain with your software.
Cloud Tax Preparation Software
The most obvious piece of moving your tax practice to the cloud is switching to cloud tax preparation software. This year, we’ve integrated Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online into QuickBooks Online Accountant, giving you a single place in the cloud where you can see all your clients, do their books and prepare their taxes. This all adds up to additional time savings. With ProConnect Tax Online, you can buy only what your firm needs. The pay-per-return pricing is affordable and includes everything – all tax content, states and e-filing fees.
Client Collaboration in the Cloud
The default tool for client collaboration is the tax organizer. However, customers don’t always understand them, they are expensive to print and mail, and even if you distribute them electronically, they don’t always help you get the information you need from clients. There are a number of digital organizers out there to at least help reduce the expenses of shipping and mailing paper organizers. If you’re using Intuit ProConnect Tax Online, Lacerte® or ProSeries®, Intuit Link is a free client portal integrated with your software.
Link produces a checklist of the information you need based on the prior-year tax return. This checklist, coupled with a customizable questionnaire, can then be sent to your clients digitally and quickly. Your clients will receive an email from you requesting the information you need. They log in to their personal portal, answer the questions, upload documents (they can even do it on their smartphones, take pictures of docs and more) and you are instantly notified when new information is provided. Client collaboration has never been easier.
Set up Electronic Signatures
With an electronic signature system for engagement letters and Form 8879, you can eliminate the hassle of printing and chasing down signed 8879s, and make it easier for your clients to return signed forms. There are several options available, and if you’re using one of the ProConnect tax software options, eSignature is built into your software. Clients can review and sign from anywhere on any support device, while auto-reminders save you time by giving slow-responders a nudge. Now is the time to learn how to use an electronic signature system and train your staff and clients for the upcoming season.
Moving your tax practice to the cloud doesn’t happen overnight, but consider starting your transition with one of these three tools.
Editor's note: For a full range of tax-related articles, visit the Intuit ProConnect Tax Pro Center.