6 min read

Is the Automated Tax Return Possible?

Jan 5, 2021 2:00:00 PM

Automated Tax | Botkeeper

The ideal tax season is one that requires no tax work at all. Sure, tax can be lucrative, and it’s always nice to present a return to a client who’s truly grateful for your work...especially when they make it easy on you. But imagine a low-stress tax cycle that leverages automation so that you’re only involved with review and client interaction—how sweet!

Are we anywhere close to that ideal scenario? We’ve been talking about the automated tax write-up for years now; is it a reality yet?

We’re not yet at the point where we can say we’ve unlocked the truly touchless tax return, but we’re getting closer. And realistically for tax accountants, there will always be some touch points when it comes to preparing and presenting a tax return for a client; they’re just becoming more high-value touch points instead of the mechanical, low-value touch points that come with traditional tax work.

So how do we bridge the gap and inch closer to an automated corporate tax return?

Let’s take a look at why we desperately need a change when it comes to tax write-ups and how your firm can position itself for the ideal tax season that’s both easy to navigate and incredibly productive.

You may also Grab a copy of our whitepaper 'Overcoming the 5 Biggest Obstacles to Growing Your Accounting Firm' here.

 

Why We Need the Automated Tax Return

Every year firms have to navigate numerous challenges just to meet the needs of their tax clients, leaving them with little to no time to tackle their normal accounting responsibilities or focus on firm growth. Automation has the power to change that by transforming not only this busy time of year for firms, but also the industry as a whole.

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The existing way we handle tax season is flawed for numerous reasons, but for brevity’s sake, here’s a snapshot of just a few of them.

 

The Status Quo Is a Time-Suck

Write-ups are time-consuming, boring, require a lot of back-and-forth with the client, and oh yeah—you have to work with difficult QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) files or any other antiquated or legacy write-up solution. 😱

On top of all that, staff capacity is already maxed out during normal times, which means every busy season is going to be a repeat of the same long hours that are wrought with frustration. For firms who want year-round growth, the status quo has got to go.

 

Contract Support Is Unreliable

Try as you might, hiring outside help always seems like a great idea...until you expect your hired help to take the job seriously and they no-call, no-show. Then what do you do?

Even if they do show up when requested, you still have to deal with training them to do the work and answering any questions that arise. Both situations take up your valuable time.

 

Automation Via Patchwork Systems Poses Its Own Problems

To date, there’s been a great deal of work done to make the tax write-up process easier: digital document management, direct access to client financial accounts, AutoEntry for scanning PDFs, etc. But let’s be real—this convoluted process requires multiple tools and logins, and it isn’t sustainable for growing your firm. Simply put, a patchwork system is a band-aid approach to automation. 

 

 

Reduce Low-Value Touch Points & Increase Firm Productivity

Overall, we can do better with corporate tax preparation, and that starts with reducing the amount of low-value touch points involved with every business tax write-up.

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A “low-touch” approach to handling business tax write-ups saves countless hours and enables firms to turn their attention to other priority tasks. The process looks like this:

  • The client submits their documents including bank and credit card statements and receipts. 
  • Documents are scanned.
  • Software transforms the data from the documents into a year-end trial balance.
  • An accountant reviews the trial balance, makes tax adjustments, and uploads to the client’s tax filing solution.

With this low-touch approach, a process that generally takes about four hours to complete is reduced to an hour. This creates more bandwidth for firms to take on more tax clients, focus on tax consulting, or tackle any client need that might arise. 

 

Software Automation Is the Key to Reducing Time & Low-Value Touch Points

Not much in the process outlined above is all that revolutionary—except for the technology component.

Automating the most tedious and time-consuming parts of doing corporate tax write-ups not only saves you time and frustration, but it also removes the possibility of errors damaging your client’s data. Most importantly for firms looking to grow, it improves your bottom line.

Consider how much you typically invest in contract labor alone during tax season:

12 weeks x 50 hours = 600 x $50/hour — $30,000 per contractor

Automation technology saves you from paying for unreliable contractors, and it creates a repeatable service—based on automated financials—that your firm can bundle with tax planning and possibly advisory packages moving forward.

The time savings enable your firm’s staff to further develop their skill sets, nurture client relationships, and/or grow your book of business. On top of that, your bottom line is improved because you won’t have to drop $30K on contract labor—nor will your staff have to waste labor hours managing QBD files. 

Most of all, reliable automation is your best shot for turning difficult, needy clients into revenue machines. You’ll have more leverage to upsell them on additional services and encourage them to keep coming back to your firm.

 

 

Botkeeper’s Rapid Write-Up Package Was Created for Forward-Thinking Firms

While the truly automated tax return isn’t here yet, your firm can position itself for a better tax season this year by adopting the most effective and efficient write-up tool available today: the Rapid Write-Up Package from Botkeeper.

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The Rapid Write-Up Package was created specifically for accounting firms that provide write-up services, and it’s intended to give your firm the boost it needs to make the most of the busiest time of the year. The technology converts your documents into a general ledger, codes transactions based on our machine learning models, and produces a balance sheet, profit & loss, uncategorized transaction report, and trial balance. 

The process is straightforward:

  1. Upload your statements to your Botkeeper Portal for GL conversion.
  2. Receive a trial balance and uncategorized transaction report (CSV format), balance sheet, and P&L in your Portal.
  3. You import the CSV trial balance into whatever tax software you use as a firm.

And that’s it! 

Other benefits come with the Rapid Write-Up Package, including world-class support, oversight by senior accountants, and an AI-powered machine learning model that is constantly improving over time. Once tax season ends, you’ll still benefit from automated categorizations, classifications, and reconciliations.

The Rapid Write-Up Package from Botkeeper won’t fully automate your tax season, but it will give your firm a momentous step forward and position you for future success through technology. It’s time to stop playing around with patchwork systems, unreliable seasonal support, and time-consuming processes that do nothing for your firm’s bottom line!

You can learn more about Botkeeper’s Rapid Write-Up Package by joining us for our next live presentation where we’ll walk through everything you need to know to get started. Click below to save your spot!

 

Make the Most of Tax Season

 

Aaron Sullivan

Written by Aaron Sullivan

Aaron is a content marketer with a background in writing and editing for social, email, and blogs. His experience is heavily focused on bookkeeping/finance, entertainment, and beer.

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