Plan Now To Get Time Back in 2015
Benjamin Franklin is credited with the observation that “Time is Money,” but for a tax preparer during tax season, time can also be the enemy, because each hour lost while preparing a tax return means fewer returns prepared and less profit for the business.
June is the month for Tax Season Assessment. By June, most of the amended returns and state returns have been filed, the Form 990 for non-profits have been filed, and the seasonal staff has been turned loose to follow other endeavors. This is the time to evaluate how the season went this year, and plan ways to do it more efficiently next year.
For most firms, the assessment answers five questions:
- Did we have the right level of staffing? Too many staff members means paying people who do not have work to do; too few means hiring mid-season or suffering the stress of longer hours and burnout. Consider, too, whether addition pre-season training would reduce preparation time for each return.
- Did we have the right software? The tax software should be clean, comprehensive, and able to handle the more complicated federal and state returns. In addition, few tax preparation offices can be effective without a strong system of tax workflow.
- Did we have the right hardware? Printers that malfunctioned, slow computers, slow scanners and other mechanical woes also add time to the preparation of a return.
- What was the rate of errors for our returns? Even if the firm does not formally track the data entry errors, the rate can be approximated by how many times the reviewer had to send the return back to the preparer for corrections.
- Were there obvious bottlenecks in the tax workflow? Was the system to transfer data from the client documents and input sheets fast and efficient, or was populating the return forms with data a bottleneck?
If we were to chart the tax workflow, it might look like this:
With this illustration, it is easy to see where bottlenecks can cost time and money – in data entry errors, in errors made populating the tax forms and listing revenue from investments, and in errors made calculating the return.
The errors in data entry and calculations are most often a training issue, but the other time-wasting, profit-killing bottlenecks are solved through the use of sophisticated tax workflow software from GruntWorx.
GruntWorx Organize does just that – it organizes, bookmarks and labels scanned documents so you can easily find and review any document. Organize standardizes workflow with consistently indexed workpapers. It improves productivity by enabling the firm to easily find and review any tax document, while eliminating the time-consuming manual task of identifying and sorting client documents before scanning. GruntWorx Organize creates a consistent, searchable PDF file to reduce the time it takes to find critical documents.
GruntWorx Populate accurately extracts data from most standard IRS forms and bank issued documents to populate Drake Tax, GoSystem RS, ProSystem fx Tax and UltraTax CS software. This frees preparers and reviewers from the tedious – and largely unprofitable – job of manually transferring data, allowing them to engage in higher-value client activities. GruntWorx Populate output is reviewed by a professional before it is returned to the preparer, and includes diagnostics – it creates a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with diagnostic information that identifies potential missing data or errors such as a mismatched SSN.
GruntWorx Trades transforms trade details on scanned consolidated brokerage statements into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file. The detail can then be used to generate a 1099-B, and the data imported into the client’s Schedule D. This enables the preparer to easily import trade details into tax preparation systems,including Drake Software, GoSystem Tax RS, Lacerte®, UltraTax CS™, and Prosystem fx® Tax.
June is the time to begin planning to be more efficient, use less manpower and become more profitable through planning, training, and the use of advanced tax workflow tools such as GruntWorx. Now is a good time to request a trial version of the software as part of your 2015 planning process.