Tech Tips for Bookkeepers for the 2022 Tax Seasonby
Tax season is almost here, and with it comes extra stress. But there are plenty of tools available to bookkeepers to make it go more smoothly. Here, Billie Ann Grigg of Profit First Professionals discusses some of the software, apps and other technology that bookkeepers should use to make the 2022 tax season a success.
Ready or not, the 2022 tax season will soon be upon us. However, most would agree that “ready” is better than “not.” Even if you don’t do taxes at your firm, you need to make sure your tech stack is top-notch to make the upcoming tax season go as smoothly as possible for you, your team and your clients.
Here are the top eight things bookkeepers need in their tech stack for the 2022 tax season. Go ahead and familiarize yourself with them now. There’s nothing worse than a learning curve on a tight deadline.
What Should a Bookkeeper's Tech Stack Look Like in 2022?
1. Cloud-Based General Ledger Software
If you’re still using desktop-based software, now is a great time to convert to the cloud. Cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks Online and Xero allow you to work seamlessly with your clients, their tax professionals and your team without the risk of overwriting each other’s work or locking each other out of the software, stressors you don’t need when deadlines are looming.
2. 1099 Software
If you don’t use a general ledger software that prepares, e-files, emails and mails 1099s on your behalf, then you’ll want to use dedicated 1099 software that handles all of this for you. Yes, you’ll pay more for Track1099 and similar programs than you would spend on buying and mailing forms yourself, but the increased efficiency is well worth the investment.
3. Client Communication Portal
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with email, and that relationship can become even more strained during tax season. The emails never end, and we must constantly remind our clients not to send sensitive information via email, a plea that all too often falls on deaf ears.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to streamline client communication and document sharing. Unlike client portals of the past, tools like Liscio and ClientHub are easy for clients to use. A client communication portal keeps your inbox tidy, protects sensitive client information and allows your whole team to interact with and assist clients, a must-have feature for those times when a staff member is out of the office due to illness or an emergency.
4. Receipt Capture Software
QuickBooks Online has a built-in receipt capture feature that works pretty well, but some clients require a more robust solution. If your client’s transactions require complex categorization, or if multiple people on their team submit receipts, consider a receipt capture software like Dext (formerly ReceiptBank) or Hubdoc. These apps will not only save you from sifting through shoeboxes full of crumpled receipts, they will also extract key information from source documents, making any bookkeeping rescue work easier.
5. Scheduling Software
No one has time during tax season for a bunch of back-and-forth to schedule a meeting. Using scheduling software like Acuity or Calendly will save you and your administrative staff hours of time and loads of frustration.
Here’s a tip: Create a link specifically for CPAs and other tax pros, and block off time each week to meet with them. This will help you better manage your time and build relationships with potential referral partners.
If you need to schedule a meeting with more than one person, coordinating calendars for three or more people can be a nightmare. Consider using a tool like Doodle to propose meeting times, and ask invitees to vote for the time that works best for them. There it is...scheduling magic!
6. Video Conferencing Software
If you want an in-person experience with your clients without actually having to be there, video conferencing is the way to go. You’ve probably become familiar with Zoom and Google Hangouts over the past couple of years. These platforms are great, but there’s no streamlined way to keep clients on track with an agenda. Plus, if you need to share something with the client, you’ll need to do so via email (or their client portal), which can be distracting.
This is where software like Connect4 comes in. Connect4 allows for video conferencing, agenda tracking and file sharing all in one place. There’s even a feature for follow-up notes and next steps, crucial when you need your client to share information to finish their books for 2021.
7. Internal Communication Tools
Whether your team is 100-percent remote or working from the same office, an effective internal communication tool is a necessity during tax season. The right tool not only streamlines work-related communication, but it also provides a sense of community during the most stressful time of the year.
Slack is a great option for internal communications. Hashtags and channels make it segmented yet searchable, and it is easy to use.
The one drawback of internal communication tools like Slack is the possibility of blurring the boundaries between work and personal time. If you implement an internal communication tool, be sure to set up guidelines for “quiet hours,” times when no one should expect a reply.
8. Mindfulness Apps
The stress of tax season can easily dominate your life. Setting aside just 10 minutes each day for mindfulness can help you better manage this stress. It can also lead to more creative problem-solving, and it can help you to be less reactive. (How many times have you told the same client not to email their Social Security number to you?)
My personal favorite mindfulness app is Calm, but Headspace and Insight Timer are good options, too. All of these apps are available for free, so give them a try and see which one works best for you.
Don’t Fail the Tech Stack Challenge
There are a lot of choices when creating your ideal tech stack, but the best tools are the ones that you, your team and your clients will actually use. Whether you choose one of the recommendations above or find a different tool altogether, taking the time now to get familiar with every tool in your tech stack and how they interact will prevent mishaps when tax season starts in earnest.
Billie Anne Grigg has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century (this one, despite what her children think). She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, and a Mastery Level Certified Profit First Professionals. She is also a guide (coach) for the Profit First Professionals organization. Billie Anne started...