Digital Tax Workflow Tips and Tricks

By Aimee Hall, Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting – May 5, 2023
Digital Tax Workflow Tips and Tricks

When it comes to tax compliance, accuracy and comprehensiveness are extremely important. However, the forms and calculations are only part of the equation. Efficiency and convenience are what really sets a tax compliance system apart. These tax workflow tips and tricks can help firms achieve productivity gains as well as reduce errors and improve client experience.

Workstation Setup

The ideal desktop setup tends to be a matter of individual preference. What works for one person may not work for everyone else, so it’s important that software should be flexible to individual configuration. CCH Axcess Tax can display up to four tabs, four windows, or a combination of tabs and windows to view multiple worksheets and forms at the same time, across multiple monitors.

The Return Manager in CCH Axcess Tax includes the ability to set up and save custom views, with specific filters, columns and sorting options to show preferred information in a way that makes sense to the individual user. The system also records your navigation history, so you can easily revisit worksheets and forms you opened earlier in your session with back and forward buttons, similar to a web browser.

Document Collection and Data Entry

Collecting client data is consistently named as one of the biggest headaches of busy season. While there’s only so much a firm can do to influence client behavior, there are a few ways to streamline document collection and data entry.

CCH Axcess Tax includes the ability to create a Missing Item Notes directly in a tax return and assign it to a staff member for follow-up. Although some firms may choose not to begin work on a return until all of the documents are ready, the Missing Item Notes help to ensure that missing items are not overlooked.

Scanning paper documents to digitize them has become fairly standard practice, but many firms still are not taking advantage of OCR technology to identify data and flow it into a return. Firms that explored this option years ago and had trouble with it may be surprised to find how much the technology has improved, with higher resolution scanners and better character recognition algorithms. A data validation utility makes it easy to compare results side-by-side, flagging potential problems for review.

And, while paper documents are still common, more and more client documents arrive electronically. A digital data collection program, like CCH ProSystem fx Scan Funnel, can collect and organize digital documents, without the inefficient print-then-scan process of the past. Once digitized and organized, client documents can be routed automatically to a document management system for storage.

Preparation and Review

Once the data is collected and entered into the tax return, the accountant’s expertise takes center stage. The summary grids in CCH Axcess Tax and CCH ProSystem fx Tax look and function like Excel spreadsheets and integrate with Excel for importing and exporting data. Several import and export utilities help populate more complex returns, with import/export utilities for K-1 data, passthrough entity data, depletion data, fixed assets, accounting, apportionment, and estate planning systems.

Onscreen review tools help ensure the highest quality work. Keep e-file rejections to a minimum with powerful diagnostics that are easy to understand and actionable. Features like the 1040 Return Dashboard, four types of collaborative notes, three levels of tickmarks and easy-to-use reports improve accuracy at all stages of the workflow.

Automate the Last Mile

Boost efficiency with a digital tax workflow and streamline the last mile of the tax process. The CCH Axcess Tax Batch Manager saves time by automating time-consuming tasks like batch calculations, batch printing and even batch filing extensions. Schedule batch jobs to occur during slow periods or overnight to maximize time during busy season.

Once the return is ready to be filed, it can be exported to the CCH Electronic Filing Status System. This web-based system enables preparers to manage authorizations and release returns to taxing authorities. Preparers can find out almost immediately if a return has been accepted or rejected so they can move on to the next job or correct any problems. The CCH Electronic Filing Status System works with CCH eSign to provide convenient e-signature collection for any document, including Form 8879. 

Creating an end-to-end digital tax workflow enables a more modern client experience while also improving efficiency and accuracy in the firm. Whether firms implement these tips and tricks all at once or step-by-step, there is a lot of room- to make process improvements for a more productive tax workflow.

Aimee Hall is a product marketing manager for Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting US, focusing on the professional market. In this role, she is responsible for leading the marketing strategy for tax software products including CCH Axcess Tax, CCH ProSystem fx Tax and ATX Tax. She joined Wolters Kluwer in 2006 and lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Learn about NJCPA member discounts on CCH publications