Creating ‘No Touch’ Tax Returns

No touch tax returns are the way of the future, or the present depending on who you ask. In either case, firms need to be jumping on the bandwagon.

‘No touch’ returns actually mean no physical meeting with the client. Sorry to disappoint if you were hoping you and your staff wouldn’t need to touch them either! The point of no-touch returns isn’t to reduce the intimacy of your client relationships, but instead, shift them to being prepared in a way that is sought by clients and aids efficiency.

No touch returns are prepared completely paperless and without physical meetings with the clients. In order to accomplish this, firms must have the technology in place to collect, review and process tax documents completely electronically. While this may seem like a no brainer for firms that have been going paperless for decades, clients still receive a substantial amount of their tax documents on paper.

The first steps to creating this time saving workflow is to put a client document collection process in place that make it easy for clients to securely share documents, even when they receive their copies in paper format. Look for client portals that include features like a phone app where clients can snap pictures of documents and securely upload them through the app. You want to protect client information but also make it easy for them to get documents to you.

Having a system that makes it easy for clients to send you documents electronically will also save you and your team prep time. Instead of spending time sorting, scanning and tying out documents, electronic files are much easier to label and tie out as received. Plus, they are ready to be dropped right into PDF readers that can aid your tax return preparation.

Keeping the process paperless on the backend also makes things easier for both you and your clients. Instead of taking the time to collate and mail copies of returns, portals and e-signature softwares allow you to send your clients electronic drafts of their returns, review, approve and sign all in one location. This process can significantly cut down your administrative time and clients will retain 24/7 access to their returns should they need them in the future.

Internal firm benefits of this paperless process means a digital record of workpapers and signed documents is being created as you’re working with your clients to complete the returns. While it may seem impersonal not to have clients come into an office space, the remote environment of preparing returns can save everyone time and money.

Our practice still holds virtual review calls with our clients to discuss their tax returns and tax strategy, but the meetings are easier for everyone to fit into their schedule because they don’t include a formal office visit. AI meeting transcription tools like Fireflies.ai also aid the efficiency process by automatically recording and transcribing the meetings. If we are providing clients instructions such as next steps for e-filing or making payments, those instructions can be automatically pulled out of the transcript post meeting and sent to the client as a follow up.

Clients appreciate efficiency too. Remember, their filing process is generally stressful and not exciting for them. A no touch process doesn’t need to mean no relationship, but it can cut out unnecessary time, meetings, and stress on both sides.

Christine Gervais

Christine Gervais is a licensed CPA, using her skills to help businesses grow and achieve their fullest potential. Christine has a Master’s degree in accounting from Southern New Hampshire University in addition to holding her CPA license for over a decade. Notably, Christine is a nationally recognized speaker providing education to other CPAs on how to best serve clients as well as instruction on a wide variety of topics for business owners on how to maximize success. Christine prides herself on the value she can bring to clients with her extensive tax knowledge and provides strategic, forward-thinking financial strategies to help clients grow. When not behind her desk, you can find Christine spending quality time with her daughter and stepson or tending to the family’s excessively loved farm animals.

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