From XU Magazine, 
Issue 36

Why accountants struggle to turnaround individual tax returns (ITRs) on time

Individual returns can often be frustrating, unprofitable and time-consuming jobs–but no longer.

There’s no reason why individual returns shouldn’t be profitable for your firm. With the right tools, you can reduce turnaround time and eliminate back-and-forth with clients.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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The end of the financial year (EOFY) can be a tough time for Aussie accounting firms. You have company accounts to file for business clients with 30 June year-ends. And you also have individual tax returns (ITRs) for your personal clients to file with the Australian Tax Office (ATO). That’s a lot of compliance work and form-filling to have on your plate at once!

There’s no reason for this heavy ITR workload to end up drowning your team, though. In fact, by being smart with your use of tech, you can streamline the whole EOFY process.

So, how do you make your ITRs as easy as ABC? We’ll ask:

  • What stops you getting your ITRs done and dusted?
  • How can you ditch the main ITR challenges?
  • Why are ITRs a breeze when you use Content Snare?

Tax season is busy. There’s no getting around that fact. Those months following 30 June, are when the compliance workload ramps up (and your stress levels probably increase a fair bit too!). Getting your individual returns prepared can become a major part of this heavy workload.

Why are ITRs such a big task to take on? Here are five key challenges that will generally make completing these returns an uphill struggle:

  1. Collecting the clients’ documents – not all individuals will have made the leap to digital. We’re not quite at the ‘pile of tax receipts in a shoe box’ stage of yesteryear, but it still takes plenty of time to collect the receipts, documents and statements you need, in the right format.
  2. Meeting all the tax compliance requirements – keeping up with tax regulations and the ATO’s changing guidance adds to the workload. It’s also important to make sure you’re claiming every possible expense that clients can claim against tax.  
  3. Getting the data-entry done – collecting the actual documents isn’t the end of the story. Without a digital process, you still need to manually enter all this information into the client’s accounting software and move these numbers over to the online return.
  4. Reviewing and revising the returns – looking for potential errors and omissions in the return takes time. And when you do find mistakes or missing information, that can mean a lot of ‘email ping pong’ back and forth with the client to find the right info.
  5. Catching up with the client before filing – face-to-face time with clients is important, especially before filing their ITRs. This is a chance for clients to ask questions and for you to understand their financial situation. But pinning down the time for this is hard.

These five main challenges can make ITRs a potential mountain to climb for your practice team. Yourself or your team could spend hours collecting client documents, sifting through info for omissions and checking that all the compliance boxes have been ticked. And that’s on top of managing their other ongoing tasks and engagement workloads.

So, how can I reduce turnaround time for my individual returns?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:  

  • Automate the collection of your clients’ information – don’t spend hours chasing the client for documents. Automate this collection process with a tool like Content Snare. Send a list of requests to the client and let them upload the docs in one hit.
  • Use tech to make sure you stay compliant – most of the main cloud accounting platforms will include income tax templates for automatically completing your clients’ ITRs. It’s fast, accurate and helps you to speed up the whole return process.
  • Digitise and automate the input of client data – intelligent document capture (IDC) tech means you can wave goodbye to days of manual data entry. With IDC, you can scan in paper and PDF documents and turn the information straight into digital data.  
  • Use digital analytics tools to filter your data – smart data analytics tools, like XBert or Dext Precision will automatically scan your client files to look for errors, omissions and poor data quality. So you ITR data will be top notch before you run the returns.
  • Free up more time for client conversations – with more of the IT process automated, you get more time to sit down with your clients. That means more opportunities for questions, answers and advice on how to maximise their tax efficiency etc.

Taking the hassle out of ITRs makes a BIG difference to your efficiency as a firm. Instead of pulling your hair out and working overtime to hit the tax deadlines, let the tech take the strain.

At Content Snare, we’ve even created a range of useful ‘request templates’, including one for individual returns! These templates give you an easy, automated way to collect all the documents and information you need for a client’s individual year-end:

  • Collect all the info you need with our Request Builder tools
  • Allow the client to upload all the docs, receipts and statements you need
  • Store all this ITR data in one place, securely stored and accessed in the cloud

According to Aly Garrett, Founder & Principal of award-winning firm, All in Advisory:

“I thought it’d resolve one pain point, I didn’t realise it’d resolve so many. If I had realised earlier, I would have gotten on board with Content Snare a whole lot sooner.”

Rather than let profitability suffer on these jobs, load up the right tools and tech to improve both the clients’ experience and ease the workload for your team!

Why leave it there?

To try Content Snare FREE for 14 days

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