Conquering Tax Season: How Technology can Streamline Filing and Return Delivery in 2024

With more than 46,000 CPA firms in the U.S. facing another season of tight deadlines, grappling with regulatory intricacies, and staffing challenges, the automating and streamlining of tax return filing and delivery has become even more crucial, advisdes John McGowan, CEO at HubSync.

Traditional methods are often insufficient in meeting the demands of modern tax preparation. Fortunately, AI and other technological advancements within the tax industry offer a path forward, turning the tide by providing powerful tools to navigate these complexities and address widespread inefficiencies. In 2024, several trends and themes are shaping the trajectory of tax season for CPAs.

John McGowan, CEO, HubSync

Automate the Mundane with E-Filing and E-Signing

Tax filing and returns are not getting any easier, and the constant need for secure and legally valid document signatures in the tax filing process has historically created a large challenge for CPA firms. The need for clients to either download, print or scan a signature document is tedious and time-consuming. It can also put more strain on CPAs trying to meet hard deadlines. However, modern e-signing solutions create greater efficiency and productivity while providing real-time insights. They facilitate the signing of documents by pulling data directly from the tax return preparation software's e-filing modules to track all filings in one place, eliminating the need for physical signatures and expediting the approval process.

In addition to e-signing, modern e-filing solutions are highly beneficial for CPAs. Users can easily track the status of returns and extensions across various parameters such as year, type, preparer, jurisdiction, and status. They can also visualise real-time electronic filing data in multiple formats from a single dashboard. E-signing solutions also offer bi-directional integration, enabling firms to automate the filing process directly from their solution. This includes automatic submission to the IRS and state authorities upon signing of the 8879 form by CPAs. Moreover, some software can streamline deadline management with back extension functionality, simplifying the preparation of tax returns and extensions for CPA firms.

Utilise AI to Provide Insights from Large Data Sets

The proliferation of data in the digital age presents challenges and opportunities for accounting firms. On the one hand, the sheer volume and complexity of data can overwhelm traditional analytical approaches. On the other hand, advancements in AI offer unprecedented capabilities for extracting valuable insights from large data sets. AI-powered algorithms provide vigilance; scanning for inconsistencies and missing information while ensuring accuracy and preventing delays before they arise. Moreover, AI algorithms can identify potential tax deductions and optimise tax planning strategies based on historical data and market trends.

By leveraging AI capabilities, accounting firms can gain a competitive edge in the filing process, allowing them to deliver more accurate and comprehensive tax returns to their clients. AI-driven insights can also help firms identify opportunities for cost savings, risk mitigation, and strategic decision-making, enhancing their overall value proposition.

Customise Workflows to Improve Work Quality and reduce CPA Burnout

Burnout among auditors and tax accountants is a real and pervasive issue. Deloitte reports that 82.4% of hiring managers in finance and accounting departments of public companies view talent retention as a significant challenge. This, coupled with limited budgets and inadequate technology infrastructure, further intensifies the workload burden many accounting administrators face. To mitigate this risk, accounting firms must prioritise the customisation of workflows to optimise efficiency and promote work-life balance.

By implementing unified, customisable solutions, accounting firms can tailor their workflows to their teams' specific needs and preferences. For example, firms can leverage project management software to allocate tasks more effectively, automate routine processes to reduce manual effort and provide flexible work schedules to accommodate personal commitments. Automation not only combats errors but also combats burnout, allowing CPAs to focus on their areas of expertise and avoid the dreaded seasonal fatigue.

Proactive Planning, Lasting Impact

The efficient filing and delivery of tax returns are essential for accounting firms' success in the modern era. As the 2024 tax season unfolds, accounting firms must embrace these technological advancements to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging and changing industry. By leveraging technology to automate processes, analyse data, and customise workflows, accountants can streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and deliver superior client outcomes.

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