talk about money
talk about money

Pay-by-Refund: an alternate way to get paid

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Sometimes, clients do not have the money to pay your fees up front, so a bank product or refund transfer such as Intuit® Pay-by-Refund (PBR) is a solution you can offer in your firm.

Bank products allow clients to deduct your tax preparation fees directly from their refund. They are commonly used with early filers who usually expect a large refund and need the money quickly. However, times are changing; other clients may be looking for another convenient way to pay their tax invoice without accruing any upfront cost.

When asking Intuit ProConnect™ Tax Online, Lacerte® and ProSeries® customers if they plan to offer PBR for tax season, I commonly hear that they do not have “these types of clients.” Here is the thing: If you answer “yes” to any of questions below, you have at least one client who can benefit from PBR.

  • Do you or someone in your firm call clients who are past due on their invoices to remind them to pay?
  • Do you find yourself wanting to offer more services?
  • Do you make payment arrangements with clients?
  • Do you have any clients who would rather keep their money in their pocket?

Did you raise your hand or shake your head? If so, let’s talk about the clients who are looking for a different tax preparation payment experience:

The forgetter: These are the ones who forget to pay their invoice. After you complete and e-file their return, they don’t pay you until you spend hours trying to reach them. This leads to sending countless invoices, voicemails, and waiting weeks or months to get paid, all while racking up non-billable hours.

The convenience seekers: Some clients just like to get things done and not worry about it later, often seeing the invoice and paying by credit card right away. As the tax preparer, you may have to pay a small credit card processing fee, but you do get paid! However, for your clients, carrying credit card balances is expensive and can hurt credit ratings. Taxpayers who pay by PBR instead of credit cards can avoid running up their credit card balances.

The entrepreneur: Cash is king when it comes to the financial management of a growing company, and one of the reasons why 82 percent of small businesses fail. These client will relate to the value in PBR because it will allow them to keep their money in their pocket so they can focus on paying suppliers and employees.

The loyalists: This group loves you and most likely relies on you for additional work outside tax preparation, such as advisory services. To them, your services are unlike any other, and they keep coming back to you again and again, so providing added value is key. PBR comes with a yearly subscription of identity theft protection powered by IDnotify, so if you want to test offering PBR, the loyalists will appreciate the added ID theft protection.

If these types of clients sound familiar, here are four easy ways you can effectively communicate PBR to your clients.

1: Intuit Link: This is one of the easiest approaches because you can add the question about PBR in your tax organizer, allowing clients to opt into a bank product themselves, while saving you time because you can add the necessary bank forms when you complete the return.


2: Pay-by-Refund marketing kit: Free plug-and-play templates help you market the benefits of PBR. In addition, all of our banking partners offer marketing tools to easily inform clients about your PBR offering.

3: Monthly newsletter: Use your email newsletters to inform clients that you are offering an alternate payment method. With an established newsletter, you can take advantage of your established client base and reputation, which is cost effective and helps you target your audience. Keep in mind that you can offer the option to clients you place on extension, as long as they are receiving a refund.

4: Bundle PBR: During the review process, try offering PBR as a bundled billing solution and speak to the value. For example, let’s say you have a client who could benefit from a tax planning package, but may not have the money to purchase the service up front. You could inform the client that with the PBR program, they not only pay their invoice with their refund, but also pay for your additional services. It’s a win-win!

By now, I hope PBR makes more sense for you and your firm. If you’re not already using PBR, consider trying it; it may help your clients pay their invoices and help you get paid on time.

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