January 15, 2013. CPA Firms and Technology
How Technology Can Help When Tax Season Rolls AroundAs the calendar year has ended for individuals and many small businesses comes to a close as well, making the months of January through April busy for tax accountants. If you have had trouble getting in touch with your accountant during the first four months of the year, you’re not alone. CPAs who specialize in tax preparation are inundated with filing tax returns for individuals and corporations during the first quarter of the year, and in years past they could be difficult to get in touch with. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever to stay connected, even when the accountant is sitting behind a mountain of paperwork.
Indeed, we at Safe Harbor LLP work very hard to be ‘on top’ of technology – both as users of technology to work with our Bay Area clients and as supporters of many of our clients, who come to us often as San Francisco tech startups. Technology is something we love, and do, and support at Safe Harbor LLP.
One of the easiest ways to track down your accountant may be to shoot him a quick email. Yes, email seems so… 1999 here in the hi-tech San Francisco Bay Area, home to Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and the gang. But email works! If you have something that you need to convey, and you just can’t get in to his office to talk directly to him it might be best to email. In addition to being quick, easy, and effective, correspondence through email can provide you with documentation that you can refer to later on.
During the business of tax season, an email might be the preferred method of communication. A message jotted down on a note paper might get lost in the flurry of paperwork, but an email will provide a permanent communication record. So yes, Bay Area clients, we love and support email no matter how retro it might seem!
Technology also allows for individuals to participate in web conferencing. There are a number of hosts that provide this oftentimes free service. This can be a good way to chat with your accountant, especially if you live a considerable distance from his office or if you own a small business that you just can’t get away from. Web conferencing uses a web camera, a computer, and a hosting service, and it can provide the feeling of speaking face to face with someone. More and more accountancy firms are utilizing technology in this way so that their clients have more convenience when they need to speak to their accountant.
We use WebEx and do lots of one-on-one video conferences. We are also a big fan of Join.me, which is a darling of the San Francisco Startup community in technology.
Upload Documents Securely
Usually people submit their financial documents when they meet in person with their tax accountant. If you can’t make it in to visit with your tax accountant, however, you have two choices for document submission. You can package the documents up and ship them, or you can scan them in electronically and send them. Because of the increasing numbers of individuals who become victimized by identity theft you may be hesitant to send your documents either way, but if your accountant offers a method for you to securely upload them to his server you can have the peace of mind that they won’t get into the wrong hands.
Emailing scanned documents is an option as well, but there are fewer safeguards when it comes to email. If an identity thief was to hijack your email account or your accountant’s email account, those files would be easily taken over.
The Convenience of Using Technology
In today’s world of technological advances, it’s not always mandatory to visit your accountant in person in order for him to prepare a tax return. In fact, email, web conferencing, and secure document uploading can provide a way whereby you wouldn’t have to go into his office at all. Not all accountancy firms utilize modern technology, but some do. You might be surprised at how convenient it is to securely submit financial records, and have your return filed without ever stepping foot into your accountant’s office whether it is in San Francisco like ours or somewhere else.