After 24 years I switched my tax office from a desktop tax program to an online tax program
Our tax office started in the 90s as a family business. We started out as an e-file service center. Clients would bring in their completed tax returns and we would e-file them as a service. E-filing was new back then. Clients were starting to appreciate and understand that they could get their refunds much faster by e-filing. Back then returns were mostly done by hand.
I’m sure that you could never guess the major mistake customers were making? Yup, simple math. We fixed so many returns back then because people could not add and subtract. Additionally looking up taxes and credits, there were always errors. We quickly realized that we could start charging fees to correct returns.
While it was great that we could now charge more, we quickly realized that it would just be better to offer tax preparation services so that the customers didn’t have to do the return and bring them into us to just e-file. Customers would get frustrated, even though it was their mistake. So that is how we got started in the tax business. But now we had to manage software and we had more responsibilities with software and documents.
Back in the 90s there was no internet and no online tax programs that made sense for small businesses to use. So we had desktop installed tax software. The process in the last 20 years for desktop installed software has not changed much. Get the software, on disks, install in computer. Wait for updates, install updates or manually fix the program ourselves so we didn’t have to wait for the updates. Wow, things have changed. Now we are at least getting the updates via the internet but, the same problems are still present.
The more clients we got, the more data we had to store and the more computers we needed. We began to scan our documents and start converting those files to electronic files because we were running out of storage space.
Between program updates, scanning documents, and computer hardware issues, I had to become an IT person just to stay in business. So now instead of being a tax preparer I had to spend part of my time managing a network, installing updates and dealing with “other things” vs running my business and growing it. That all changed when I switched my software to online tax preparation software.
During the 2018 tax season, February 3rd to be exact, I made a Crazy decision to switch. I guess I was hesitant because it is easy to be a SALY, same as last year. For Years! I was having issues installing some updates, returns were getting behind and I was getting frustrated. My software provider offered my same program in an online version so I could easily convert my returns that I had not started to the online version so I had a good start.
It didn’t take us long to realize the benefit of being online. The online version offered security that we did not have with our office network. I was no longer wondering if there was an update to install. I didn’t have to take my network down to install updates and lose preparation time. Updates were done for me automatically. Heck, I didn’t even know if there were updates anymore and I did not even care. It was as if I got back to doing what I loved doing and that was helping my customers. I could focus on preparing returns again.
Did I pick a poor time at converting? I did, but that decision was the best decision I made for my business. As the last few years has proved, more and more small businesses are moving to an online platform. Internet connections are better than they ever used to be. There are more tools to being productive and looking more professional. Using online tax preparation software does not mean you are sacrificing features, you can get the same level or better with online.
Also, we changed all of our documents over to our newly created platform ProClient. This tool is saving me money and time too. I no longer have multiple platforms for documents, scheduling, messaging and a client portal, it is all one tool. Plus I do not have to stay with my current tax program because ProClient is not attached to my tax software. This is important if you want to change, sell or retire. Clients will still need access to their records.
So if you are contemplating moving over to online tax software, do your research, for some offices it may still not make sense to convert, but for my office it was the best thing we did.