Transform digital workflow with Intuit ProConnect
Transform digital workflow with Intuit ProConnect Tax Vertical

Digital workflow in Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax

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Filing taxes for individual and small business clients doesn’t have to be a drain on your firm’s time, energy, and resources. But all too often, tax season means long hours, frustration, and burnout. For today’s firms, continuing with “business as usual” might mean:

  • Collecting paper documents and using multiple software programs, leading to data entry errors, complex workflows, and wasted time.
  • Struggling to recruit and retain high-quality employees.
  • Wrestling with sky-high tax season burnout and subpar work-life balance.

During the Intuit Accountants “Better Together” event in New York City, we brought together tax professionals and industry thought leaders. Our panel of industry tax experts discussed the importance of embracing technology, and modernizing tax and advisory firms to address the challenges and inefficiencies they face during tax season and in their day-to-day operations.

The problem: “Business as usual” doesn’t cut it for modern firms

Paperwork and storage. Data entry and manual processes. Redundant and draining tasks that eat away at a tax professional’s time and energy. For many, this is “business as usual” at their firm. If this sounds like your firm, you’re not alone.

Tax and advisory firms often have complex workflows that involve using multiple software programs to get the day’s work done. The average knowledge worker uses 10 different apps each day, according to Asana’s 2023 Anatomy of Work Global Index.1 That creates real damage: People report spending 36 minutes switching between applications each day, and almost another 10 minutes getting back into their groove once they’ve switched between apps, according to 2021 research from Qatalog and Cornell University’s Ellis Idea Lab.2

CPAs, EAs, tax preparers, and consultants have shared other issues that plague their firms when they collect paper documents from their clients. The process of notifying clients about the process, explaining which documents the firm needs, and chasing down the documents is frustrating and time consuming. Client accountability can prove to be low for the needed forms and paperwork to accurately file their taxes. Data entry errors are nearly inevitable when entering information manually—not often a fan-favorite task of the job. At this point, it’s your firm’s responsibility to store the requisite paperwork on your own server or in a physical filing cabinet.

Among knowledge workers, repetitive mundane tasks such as data entry and filing make up 62% of their workday, according to the Anatomy of Global Work Index.1 These might be among the tasks traditionally assigned to newer members of the profession, such as recent college graduates, or simply may be a seemingly unavoidable part of the job. But it’s likely a contributing factor to recent problems with attracting new talent, hiring, retaining qualified employees, and even quiet quitting. In fact, 90% of accountants reported hiring challenges over the past year, according to the 2023 Intuit QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey;3 94 percent said one of the biggest obstacles is fewer graduates joining the profession.

The issues with the recruiting pool hurting firms aren’t the only obstacles. In the same survey, although seven in 10 (69%) of accounting professionals said they were satisfied with their jobs, a third (32%) were dissatisfied with their job’s stress level. And the stress isn’t a well-kept secret. A full 93% of accountants said that tax season burnout is a big challenge to attracting and/or retaining accounting talent. Another two in five reported they were not satisfied with their workloads.

For tax professionals and their firms, the high stress and workloads are unsustainable to stay in the field. Chris Picciurro, founder of Teaching Tax Flow, articulated the high cost of demanding accounting jobs.

“Honestly, I missed the first five years of my older kids’ lives,” Picciurro told an audience of accounting professionals during Intuit’s Better Together NYC event. “At that point, I said, ‘It’s them or me.’ I was driving home—it was probably 2 am—from our office, and I thought, ‘What the heck is going on? It’s a very lucrative job, but it’s not a job I want anymore.’ And I felt like this business is built based on me running it—not processes and not systems. So something has to change.”

It was a pivotal moment that led to the right-sizing of Picciurro’s firm. With streamlined software solutions that facilitated efficient processes and logical systems, change is exactly what he did.

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The solution: Why Intuit ProConnect Tax is different from other cloud-based tax software

Piccurrio completely overhauled his firm’s structure, services, and systems to make it work for his personal and professional life. The pivot was life changing. Today, he has a successful, satisfying work life that’s balanced with his family life. He sees the opportunity for new generations of accounting professionals to have well-balanced, gratifying careers.

“I hope that we get more people into the industry that see how rewarding it is and see, truly, the difference you make in your clients’ lives,” he said.

Among the technological solutions Piccurrio implemented to keep his work life in check was ProConnect Tax.

This cloud-based professional tax software allows you to create tax returns in minutes, from anywhere. As an Intuit product, it seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks Online Accountant—the go-to software when working with a business owner’s books. Add on Intuit Tax Advisor, an integrated advisory tool that automatically generates strategies for client tax savings, and you come full circle from tax prep to tax planning.

“This is just the natural flow of data,” said ASE Group Founder Al-Nesha Jones, CPA, MBA, MOM, whose practice has used Intuit products since she opened her firm. “We don’t do tax returns if we don’t do the bookkeeping, because everybody knows without bookkeeping, it’s probably a mess. It’s a natural progression to go from QuickBooks to ProConnect Tax.”

The integrated flow among these bookkeeping and tax software solutions reduces the number of applications tax professionals need to use during busy season and, of course, throughout the year. After all, tax advisory isn’t a once-a-year occurrence. For a firm, the combination of software allows for smart, simplified practice management. Accountants who use technology solutions say that they’re better organized (31%), do less manual work (28%), and have fewer errors (27%), according to the QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey.3

“When I’m using an integrated tool, I’m just streamlining things,” Jones said. “I’m reducing the chance for error, reducing data entry, and reducing my time.”

Notable features in ProConnect Tax

Intuitive features embedded in ProConnect—such as flags, imports, automations, and cloud storage—plus Intuit Link, eSignature, and Protection Plus, are among the integrations that save Intuit ProConnect Tax users money, mental energy, and time. 

“It’s the way that I’m able to take what I would have needed with four to five other subscriptions to do what I do—and it’s just all included in one place,” Jones said. “It just saves so much time per tax return.”

With the time savings, firm owners and accounting professionals are able to direct their energy elsewhere, whether it’s getting more time at home or engaging with clients in high-value interactions. In fact, 80% of accountants say that technology is freeing them up to spend more face-to-face time with clients, according to the QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey.3 And 82% of accountants say those personal interactions are more meaningful.

Many accountants (38%) report that technology helps them feel greater trust in the services they provide. Professional tax software such as ProConnect Tax includes intelligent automations when uploading client documents. In fact, one of the newest, in-demand features allows you to pull all of your client’s transcripts straight from the IRS into ProConnect Tax. With this feature, you can: 

  • Catch and fix errors proactively before your client gets an IRS notice.
  • Get a single source of truth to double check before you file, so you don’t miss a thing.
  • Complete tax returns faster and more accurately with less client back-and-forth conversations.
  • Access the latest client IRS financials; this is helpful for onboarding new clients, resolution work, and completing extensions.

Solutions that integrate with ProConnect Tax

Synergies across the Intuit suite of software aren’t the only integrations that save time and money for firms. ProConnect Tax includes Intuit Link, a cloud-hosted portal that gathers and manages clients’ tax documents and data. Ninety-two percent of Intuit ProSeries® Tax customers who used Intuit Link to complete client returns for tax year 2021 said they saved, on average, 43 minutes per tax return. Tax preparers can flag missing data, estimates, and fields needing review within ProConnect Tax. Instead of typing emails manually to notify clients of flags, your firm can send templated letters with preset and customized tax return data fields. Flagged items can be reviewed by clients and accounting professionals in an input drawer, which also houses imported documents, autofills tax document fields, and marks them for review. 

When it’s time to have clients sign contracts and tax documents, Intuit eSignature provides a quick and convenient way to request signatures. Rather than chasing down clients to sign in ink or using a third-party tool to request signatures, eSignature cuts to the chase to collect client signatures digitally and quickly. In fact, 69% of completed eSignature transactions through Intuit professional tax products were finalized in less than 24 hours during tax year 2021.

ProConnect Tax securely stores all the client documents, data, tax forms, and signatures. Intuit’s cloud service keeps your firm’s data safe with enhanced security measures and protection services. This isn’t just a convenient way to save on costs and storage space in person or on your own hosting service; it’s also meeting basic client expectations for the security and safety of their data. According to Intuit’s survey of taxpayers who used a tax professional in the 12 months prior to June 2022, 86% of taxpayers expected their tax professional to store tax documents on encrypted servers with enterprise firewalls.

The same survey found that 78% of taxpayers would choose a tax professional who offers tax audit protection over one that doesn’t. For example, Protection Plus is a low-cost option to add on to any ProConnect Tax returns your firm files. Protection Plus expands your team to include CPAs and EAs who work with your team to handle any notices, issues with IRS forms, and audits. They take care of the long phone calls with state or federal agencies to fully resolve any flagged issues. 

Technology enables talent recruitment and retention

These kinds of smart automations, technological innovations, and delegation of rote manual tasks to technology pave the way for a more rewarding career in tax and accounting. In fact, 85% of accountants believed technology could encourage more young professionals to enter the industry by making way for more engaging work, according to the QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey.3 It’s a boon for employee retention, too; 31% cited a happier and more engaged staff because of their technology solutions. A third of accountants also credited their technology with improving employee retention and acquisition.

Technology solutions such as ProConnect Plus open up the hiring field and provide a built-in competitive advantage when recruiting new talent. Using cloud-based software rather than device-specific desktop solutions widens the talent pool from a small group of qualified individuals who can commute to your office to anyone in your state, time zone, or across the country. Remote work flexibility was preferred by nine out of 10 remote-capable employees, and eight in 10 chief human resources officers from Fortune 500 companies said they don’t plan to decrease remote work flexibility in the next year, according to a report on Gallup’s quarterly polling.4 ProConnect Tax facilitates remote work with access from any location and any device, and provides insight into time spent on returns at the firm and user level.

Of course, accounting professionals must address the bottom line. With technology, firms are clearly in the black. The #1 benefit of technology is that it’s helping to boost revenue due to efficiency gains, 41% of accountants reported in the QuickBooks survey. More than a third (36%) said it is also increasing income streams.

But don’t take our word for it; with ProConnect Tax’s firm performance insights, you can track client growth and time savings for yourself.

Data sources

1 Asana, 2023 Anatomy of Work Global Index.

2 Qatalog and Cornell University’s Ellis Idea Lab, 2021 Workgeist Report.

3 Intuit, 2023 QuickBooks Accountant Technology Survey.

4 Ben Wigert, Jim Harter, and Sangeeta Agrawal, “The Future of the Office Has Arrived: It’s Hybrid.”Gallup.

Editor’s note: This article is also available in Spanish.

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