Key Takeaways from MSATP’s Facebook Live: Most Useful Apps for Accounting and Tax Practices

MSATP is back with a brand-new Facebook Live Episode! Last week’s episode opened with an in-depth review of the Save4College State Contribution Program and the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship that we announced were in works back on our April 26th show. We then had the pleasure of hearing from Michael Blair, owner of Blair & Associates, Inc., to discuss the growing trend of digital accounting platforms. Michael discussed how you can implement these new and exciting technologies into your own practice to attract new clients and make your day-to-day life more efficient. To close out the episode, we learned about one of MSATP’s great sponsors: Quest Insurance. Here’s a quick recap of last week’s major segments—be sure to tune in for the real deal!

SAVE4COLLEGE STATE CONTRIBUTION PROGRAM—DEADLINE IS GETTING CLOSE!

The Save4College State Contribution Program, managed by T Rowe Price, offers eligible taxpayers the opportunity to receive a one-time matching amount of $250 that is applicable to tuition at virtually any U.S. or international college, technical or trade school. Keep in mind that you have to complete the application by June 1, 2018. You can learn more about the program and eligibility requirements by visiting https://maryland529.com/MDMatch250.

MARYLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE PROMISE SCHOLARSHIP—LINGERING QUESTIONS

MSATP has received questions from a few members regarding HBO16. The bill, which was signed by the Governor, establishes the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship. The initial scholarship awards shall be provided to recipients based on the greatest demonstrated financial need.  All eligible applicants who do not receive an award will be notified and placed on a waiting list. Beginning for the 2019-2020 academic year (September 2019-June 2020) the annual scholarship award is $5,000 per recipient or actual tuition, whichever is less.

In order to be eligible for the program, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be eligible for in-state tuition
  • Enroll in a vocational certificate, certificate, or an associate degree program at an in-state community college within 2 years of graduating high school or successfully completing a GED in the state
  • Earn an overall high school grade point average of at least 2.3 GPA
  • Have annual adjusted gross income of not more than $100,000 if single or residing in a single parent household or not more than $150,000 if the applicant is married or resides in a two-parent household (NOTE: Annual adjusted income = Total combined adjusted gross income of the applicant and the applicant’s parents or spouse)
  • Enroll in at least 12 credits per semester
  • Timely submit a FAFSA form for federal and any other state financial aid

MSATP has reached out to the Maryland Higher Education Commission to clarify how to apply and what tax year applicants should use to determine the adjusted gross income. We are still awaiting their feedback—so if any of your clients inquire about this opportunity, tell them it is currently a wait-and-see situation.

DIGITAL PLATFORMS—THE FUTURE OF THE PROFESSION

The digital workplace is the future—and that’s a great thing! Here’s just a few advantages of going digital:

  • Makes work more efficient and creates a more ideal work/life balance
  • Routine tasks can be automated, leaving more time for client analysis and generating more value to clientele
  • Practice is more valuable to buyers, especially millennials
  • More collaborative and provides real time service delivery for clients

Working digitally is just a different way of doing your job and managing your practice—it’s not just going “paperless” like some would have you believe. The two biggest digital players in the small business services area are QBO and XERO. Each platform has its pros and cons. The discussion is not which system is better, but rather why they are more efficient to use as opposed to the outdated desktop and manual data entry systems. Client accounting services are task-centric, but the vast majority of this work can be completed via technology and AI. Each accounting platform has an “ecosystem” of apps that will work seamlessly with the accounting application. Virtually all of these are cloud (SaaS) services. The benefits of using these apps in each Ecosystem are time saving, extra services available, custom fit for each client, integration of platforms, and costs.

Here’s a quick breakdown of everyday accounting tasks and the various digital platforms you can implement to make life easier:

  • ACCOUNTING SERVICE TECHNOLOGIES:
    • QBO/Other Cloud-Based (Xero) – By far the most advanced is QBO, it is the online standard for SMB. You can link bank checking and savings accounts, credit card accounts, and loan accounts to QBO. This enables the transactions to be downloaded as they clear the bank and makes reconciling a breeze. Where this is really handy is when clients are using multiple debit and credit cards. NO DATA ENTRY.
    • Time Tracking – eBillity & TSheets – TSheets is inside of QBO, while Ebility is a stand-alone product that syncs with QBO.
    • Bill Payment Services – Bill.com & Entryless: Easy ways to add service with virtually no time investment. Bill.com is the standard here. There is some setup time, but it works efficiently with QBO. Bill.com also has multiple levels of transaction approvals.
    • Digital Workpapers – Neat Technologies, Adobe, Hubdoc, Receipt Bank
    • Workflow Technologies – Office Tools, Hubdoc, Ledgersync
    • Expense Capture Apps – Expensify, Talk, Mile IQ, QBO SE 
    • Invoicing Apps – QBO & Invoices2go
    • Online Storage/File Sharing – OneDrive, Gdocs, Amazon, MS Azure, Dropbox, etc.
    • Integration Apps – Apps/Technology that make two different systems work together, with cloud-based software and apps.

 

  • PAYROLL SERVICES TECHNOLOGIES
    • Web Based Services – QBO FSP, ADP, IFSP, Paychex
    • Direct Deposit to Debit Card – No printing/mailing of checks.
    • Employee Links to PR System – Time entry, document collection/delivery
    • Online 1099 – Cloud based system, online delivery to IRS and recipient Track1099
    • Full Services for Tax Compliance – Very low cost, and low hassle

 

  • PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
    • Contact/Document Management – Office Tools
    • Online Document Storage – MS OneDrive, Azure, Google Docs, AWS
    • Adobe Acrobat – Scanning and document manipulation
    • Microsoft Office 365 – Online versions of Word, Outlook, Excel, etc.
    • Communication/Video Conferencing – Skype for Business, GoToMeeting, Zoom
    • Client Payment Systems – QB Payments, Square, PayPal
    • Password Manager Apps – Roboform, Dashlane

WHAT DOES SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE (SaaS) REPLACE?

  • Desktop Versions – Replaces installing different versions on new computers, and admin time is reduced
  • IT Maintenance Costs – Only on desktops, no need for high-end computers
  • Server Costs – Nonexistent, may need storage space online, MS OneDrive, Google Docs, Amazon, etc.
  • Postage & Supplies Costs – Office supplies and postage have been reduced 50% from 2014 to 2017
  • Labor Costs – More efficient, talent pool not limited by location. Talent can be kept in place even if they move away from CPA office location. Everyone is on the same software; training costs go down and efficiencies increase.

Here are links to the websites for the digital platforms mentioned above where you can learn more and get started to integrate them into your practice:

QUEST INSURANCE—TRUSTED BUSINESS & PERSONAL COVERAGE

Last, but certainly not least, we closed out the show with a message from Chris Corbett of Quest Insurance. Quest Insurance has been serving accounting professionals and their clients for over 25 years providing employee benefits, business insurance and personal coverage in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They look forward to providing you the best value for your insurance needs! For more information, get in touch with Chris via phone: (571) 367-7971 or email: chris@questinsurance.us or checkout the Quest Insurance website: www.questinsurance.us to learn more about all the great options they have to offer!

In case you missed it, you can find the full broadcast below and at https://youtu.be/oZJxYj37Utk.



Be sure to tune in on Thursday – we’ll be LIVE from the 2018 Annual Conference in Ocean City!

Not a member of our private MSATP Members Facebook Group yet? Click HERE to join!

 

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