How Automation Streamlined My Accounting Work

Craig W. Smalley, EA
Founder/CEO
CWSEAPA PLLC
Columnist
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About a year ago, I was reviewing my cable bills and saw how high they had gotten. We had bundled our internet and TV to get a better price. However, the cable company decided to charge a “bundling fee” of $100.

Disgusted, I looked into streaming. I found a service that had everything I wanted, so we cut the cord with the cable company.

The service we use has different accounts for different users. For instance, I have my account, my wife has hers and the kids have their own. Then, on the homepage, it makes suggestions about shows you might like based on your viewing history. I like to see what is suggested for me. This is the way automation for the accounting industry is supposed to work.

We began automating our processes about two and a half years ago. I was fed up with clients complaining about not getting their QuickBooks Desktop Accountant’s Copies fast enough. Inevitably, a client would have to go back and change something before the dividing date.

The problem was, their books were a mess, and we would have to pull employees off projects we were charging more for to get the accountant’s copy back. Furthermore, all of these programs had to be housed on a server I needed to upgrade.

However, I refused to pay $9,000 for a new one. There had to be a better way. 

I started looking more closely at the cloud. I have clients who live in different states and wanted something that was easy for everyone to use and would integrate well with other software. I settled on QuickBooks Online (QBO) and ProConnect.

QBO has a feature that allows you to feed transactions from bank accounts, credit cards and other accounts into the program, and it would use AI to remember which account the item went to. All you have to do is accept the transactions. 

Better still, reconciling the bank boils down to putting in the ending balance, and, nine times out of 10, the bank reconciles itself. The program also integrates a workflow process and has apps that will make your life much easier.

When it comes to doing tax returns, you are supposed to be able to go to the trial balance, map the accounts to where they go on the tax return and export them to the program.

Unfortunately, there were a few issues: For example, I had to upload all of my old returns from Lacerte to Proconnect, and, when I export the trial balance, instead of integrating with the return that is already in the tax program, it creates another return.

Fortunately, QBO and ProConnect are getting better all the time. Just like any early adopter of technology, you have to wait for the kinks to be worked out, which they will be eventually.

Now, 99% of our clients use the QBO platform, with only a handful still using the desktop version. Better yet, we never had to update our server and our workflow is automated, with the need for tedious data entry gone. 

 

About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.

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Sep 21st 2018 20:51

sadddd

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Sep 22nd 2018 01:39

This article couldn't have been more timely for me. I'm studying for the EA exam and learning QBO to start a bookkeeping/tax practice shortly.

Your article gives me some confidence that I'm choosing the right products.

Any suggestiongs for tax research products that are budget friendly?

Thanks again for the article.

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Sep 23rd 2018 19:57

Craig, what are you currently paying for ProConnect? It charges per return, and for over 100 returns, you need to call to get a quote. It appears that it would be way more expensive than what I'm paying now for desktop software, just to have a benefit of being in the cloud.

In my opinion, there is less benefit to cloud based tax software, as opposed to accounting software which is shared with the client. I access my tax software through remote access when I work from home. Works fine for me.

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