For some time, our team at SKYsmb has been discussing the future of tax preparation, and we’ve come to one conclusion: It’s dying. The profession itself isn’t, but with artificial intelligence (AI) and bot usage on the rise, the idea of humans putting together tax returns certainly is. Our conclusion is that for small practices to stay in business, they need to pivot their service offerings to data translation, which we think is best accomplished by using a tax planning app.
Tools like bots, AI, robotic process automation and reporting apps gather, manipulate and spit data out faster than humans ever could. For our clients, the true problem lies in understanding exactly what all that data means and how to use it advantageously. That’s where we come in!
We are now using the recently introduced Tax Planner feature within Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online to help show our clients how tax reform would impact them moving forward, and how some of the decisions they are considering making will impact their taxes in the coming year. In addition, we recently began working with clients to get them used to the idea of a more proactive service option where we watch over their business and finances to help mitigate future issues.
The responses we got were fairly predictable. Some were instantly excited about it and asked us to meet with them to get things moving, while others requested materials, which we provided in the form of rack cards and digital guides to take away and consider. However, the single most important lesson we have learned from this process of shifting our focus as a company is that people like takeaways. They want something they can see and feel, regardless of the information provided.
Not only does Tax Planner offer the perfect initial solution to this; it also provides a template for practices to develop their very own branded versions for their clients. We’re presenting this free of charge at the end of tax appointments this year to show clients what we could do moving forward.
We suggest you find a way to provide this, and convey to them the importance and advantage of having a “backup” – a team of experts watching their backs financially. In our experience, the shift from tax prep to planning will happen much faster.
Editor’s note: To learn more about how to firms are transforming, visit the Tax Practice of the Future website, where you’ll find an organized approach to incorporating advisory services into your practice.