Two years ago, if you can believe it (where does the time go?), we covered a series of cloud based apps in the initial cycle of this blog. We’ll now revisit some of them to see which ones work, which ones didn’t, and mark an essential truth about cloud accounting: Gone are the days of deciding whether to pay for an upgrade to the next year’s version, or camping out to wait in line for a CD-ROM. The software we use today is constantly updated, patched, fixed, and improved. It’s a much better way of working, though it does mean that we don’t get to pretend we’re saving money by not upgrading to the next year’s software.
This time, we’re going to profile the app, SurePrep Binder and its client facing app, TaxCaddy.
Our firm has used these apps for three seasons now and we’re even more set on keeping this app than we were before, especially after this most recent tax season; a season to end all seasons.
A quick recap of what these apps are:
SurePrep Binder is a work paper organizer. It allows all the levels of staff (from admin to junior to reviewer to partner) to each read through and organize a set of tax documents. Each team member can sign off with a unique marker and they can also place tickmarks, highlights, and other notations directly on the source documents. As the return is finalized and file, the SurePrep binder is then printed to a PDF that preserves the notations and links. This PDF can then be posted to your firm’s secure portal (see our post about CanopyTax for secure portals) for safe storage.
The best part of this app is that there’s a feature that integrates the data in the SurePrep Binder into your firm’s tax software. Most of the major platforms are supported. We use Lacerte in our firm.
I swear; this is the most beautiful button in all of tax prep. It’s a little innocuous blue button with the word ‘Tax’ emblazoned on it. Pushing that button sends the W2s, the 1099s, the 1098s, the K1s, and even some other document types directly into your tax software. Data entry is reduced to simply pushing this button!
The software isn’t cheap, but it is less expensive than a junior accountant and it doesn’t make mistakes, nor does it take sick days. The robots aren’t coming; they are already here and you’d be remiss if you don’t consider implementing them into your practice. The efficiencies to be gained are beyond compelling.
TaxCaddy is the client facing side of the program. It is similar to Intuit Link only with a better interface and forgive the pun, it’s more intuitive to use, for all parties (preparers and clients). The TaxCaddy app features a mobile app, in addtion to a webpage, that can allow the client to use their mobile phone to take pictures of their tax documents.
This isn’t like a normal picture though. TaxCaddy’s software turns the image into an OCR’able document. This process is what allows the most beautiful button in all of tax prep to do its magic.
Additionally, TaxCaddy facilitates secure signing of engagement letters, 7216 Use and Disclosure consent forms, and the compliance questionnaire. You can also use their eFile Release Form signature request workflow.
We also post the clients’ tax returns to the app upon completion of the return. That way, when the inevitable request for a return comes in, we can direct them back to the app to download it.
Prior to SurePrep Binder and TaxCaddy, we had to have several file cabinets to store W2s, organizers, 1099s, and all the other paper that comprises a tax file. We would painstakingly pore over each document, hard code them into Lacerte, make scans of the documents and then return the documents to the client with their printout of the return. We would be reliant on a team of people, admin and production staff, to make all this happen.
After three seasons using these apps (SurePrep Binder and TaxCaddy), our process is: post up the engagement letter and questionnaire, send out the invites. As people fill post up their docs, we can then bounce that down into the SPBinder, and then push the most beautiful button in all of tax prep. Then we review the data for accuracy – and we can have more time for analysis and planning. Completion of the return is another push of the button to create PDFs from Lacerte and post them to TaxCaddy.
It’s such an amazing thing to not have to worry about a bottleneck of paper return assembly, especially down the final stretch of the season.
We’ve saved on paper, copies, toner, postage, envelopes, staffing, and most importantly, time – even after taking the software cost itself into account.
The accounting industry is going through a succession issue at the moment. I’ve noticed that succession and transition isn’t limited to our industry; it’s going on with our clients, too. One thing the younger generations are demanding from their service providers, including tax preparers, is on-demand cloud based technology.
One way to future proof your firm is to embrace the future.
Food for thought.
Good luck with your coming tax season and stay safe!
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Thanks, and catch you next time!