Tax season has arrived and, even though the IRS has been accepting electronic signatures on Forms 8878 and 8879 since 2014, not all accountants have made the switch to e-signature. Relying on manual, disconnected processes to prepare taxes wastes time and money, increases the potential for error and risk, and creates a frustrating experience for clients.
Here are some of the challenges with paper-based tax processes.
Customer expectations and experience
Clients are increasingly mobile and expect their accountants to be tech savvy. 83% of accountants say clients demand more from them today than they did five years ago. Everyone wants the tax process to be efficient as possible and chasing down signatures on paper copies can be time-consuming. As firms shift from hourly to value-based billing, clients now expect to pay flat fees for services, forcing accountants to improve process efficiency.
Security and privacy
Sending tax forms to clients by mail, fax or email can expose the client’s private information. With today’s pervasive identity theft, clients want the assurance that their documents won’t be shared or stolen and that their signatures can’t be forged.
Accountants must set realistic client expectations on turnaround time. Clients often demand that their taxes be done ASAP while not being fully aware of just how many clients you have and what the turnaround time is. With a short window to file, lost documents, errors, or a client taking too long to fill out complicated forms could completely derail transactions.
How e-signature can help
The engagement letter or agreement for a services firm to provide services to a client, is an obvious process where e-signature can drive efficiency. Sending engagement letters via e-signature gives you complete visibility into who has received and signed the letter, instead of waiting and wondering if it was lost in the mail.
Engagement letters are critical in the overall workflow for independent accountants because they are legally binding, set client expectations, and prevent misunderstandings with a digital information/record trail.
Benefits of making the digital transformation
The IRS, SEC, and other regulatory agencies continue to adopt electronic filing and digital solutions, which drives accounting firms to comply with submission and reporting regulations for electronic signatures and client agreements.
Key benefits to making the switch to electronic signatures include:
- Streamline legally required client engagement letter workflows
- Eliminate paper and manual client onboarding processes
- Faster contract turnaround during tax season and other critical deadlines
- Gain visibility throughout the client engagement by automating and tracking compliance with tax e-file signatures and client agreement regulations
- Integrate with key IRS-compliant systems such as Intuit, Sage, and Xero to reduce errors
Grow the Practice
- Increase the value of admin staff with more effective client engagement and less administration
- Generate a positive and modern image of a digitally-savvy business to customers
E-signature can help you move away from inefficient and time-consuming processes and spend more time generating revenue and growing the businesses.
How to choose the best e-signature vendor
With so many vendors on the marketplace, smaller accountants face the challenge of selecting an electronic signature solution. It’s imperative to choose an e-signature solution with a proven track record with tax professionals.
DocuSign has partnered with Intuit’s QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program to provide exclusive member benefits to ProAdvisors globally. As a SOC 1 and SOC 2-certified organization, DocuSign complies with the reporting requirements stipulated by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). We undergo yearly audits across all aspects of our production operations, including our datacenters, and have sustained and surpassed all requirements.
Adopting electronic signatures today can help better position your business today and for the future.
Contact us to learn more.