Most tax practices are bombarded by paper documents all day, every day, making it challenging to keep up with client communications and documents.
Even if you’re not trying to go completely paperless, there are still a lot of benefits you can reap from using electronic signatures.
1. Books Closed Faster
In a recent survey, tax professionals noted these three common issues that prevent them from closing their books on a client during tax season:
- At least once in the year, a client will lose their copy of the return and request another.
- It takes five to seven days for a client to return a signed 8879.
- It takes 45 to 90 days for a client to pay for services.
Electronic signatures can help you address all of these issues. First, the electronic signature service offers FREE online storage of the documents you send to your clients. This means they only need to go back to the email link you sent them to access their return, rather than having to call you. Second, electronic signatures typically yield turnaround times of 24 hours or less. Finally, if the service incorporates a payment service, you can expect to receive payment in the same amount of time you receive your signed 8879. This could mean a 98 percent reduction in the time it takes for you to clear your accounts receivables and close your books on a client.
2. More Accurate Transactions
Unlike paper documents, electronic signature services can enable mandatory fields, which means you’ll have 100 percent complete documents every time. Thus, you’ll never need to track down signers and have them resend or re-sign documents.
3. Added Client Service
Last year, the number of people using mobile phones exceeded the number of people with a desktop computer. Today’s tech-savvy taxpayer demands services that are available anytime, anywhere, on any device. And, with electronic signatures, your firm can do just that! Keeping your clients from having to find a fax machine or scanner just to get you the files you need is a plus.
4. Boosted Employee Efficiency
To request an 8879 signature, the average tax professional goes through four steps:
- Prints the return, cover letter, supporting docs, 8879 and invoice.
- Mails these documents via Priority Mail or FedEx to the client.
- Waits five to seven days to receive the signed 8879.
- Files the final return.
Between labor, shipping and printing a pro, you can spend between $18 and $22 per client just to request a signature. Sound familiar? With electronic signature service, you can eliminate three of these steps and reduce your cost per client by about 75 percent in just a few seconds!
5. Increased Document Security
Most clients return their signed 8879 forms through insecure methods, such as fax, mail or email. Electronic signature services use AES 256-bit encryption and SSL 256-bit encryption to fully encrypt document transmission to and from the client.
6. Detailed Legal Evidence
Electronic signature services offer a lot more legal evidence than a traditional paper document. Each signed document comes with a highly detailed and legally binding log of events taken on each document. This log, called an audit trail, and gives more than enough evidence in the event of a legal or marital dispute.
Editor’s Note: Intuit eSignature is an electronic signature service that is included in Lacerte® and ProSeries® professional tax software. For the 2015 tax year, Lacerte eSignature will be enhanced to include a payment service to help pros get paid faster. For more information visit us online at Lacerte eSignature or ProSeries eSignature.