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Professional Tax Articles

Importance of a Quality Website for Tax Prep Firms

One of the best ways to showcase your expertise as a tax preparer is to invest in a quality website. Building a new website can help you reach many more potential clients and even give you an edge over competitors. Focusing on increasing your online presence helps to establish credibility, and it’s well worth the effort for a tax preparation service. Learning more about the many advantages of a responsive web design is always a good idea if you are still undecided.

 

Here are the main benefits of building a fast website for your tax preparation service:

 

Create a Strong First Impression

 

Making a solid first impression on potential clients is always essential for a tax preparer. A professional website with a modern design is one of the most effective ways to make a strong impression. Each visitor to your website can quickly learn more details about your company while understanding your tax preparation service better. You can choose from a wide range of tax prep website templates that will save you time in designing your site while creating a good user experience.

 

Modern Design with Fast Loading Pages

 

Creating a good user experience is necessary if you want to grow your business. A modern web design with a fast page loading speed makes it much easier for you to attract ideal clients. On the other hand, a slow site makes it nearly impossible for visitors to learn more about your company. Fortunately, you can increase web page loading speed in many ways, such as optimizing your images, decreasing your redirects, and enabling browser caching.

 

Test Both Mobile and Desktop Versions

 

A website for your tax preparation service needs to be optimized for mobile and desktop users. Both options for visitors create a seamless experience, whether using a mobile device or a desktop computer. Testing both possibilities is essential for creating a good user experience, as the goal is to develop a fast website for desktop and mobile users. A responsive web design will result in a speedy website that works on any version.

 

Maximize Your Outreach by Building a New Website

 

A tax preparer can only reach a certain number of local clients before they reach their limit. However, building a website with a modern design is an excellent way to extend your outreach by attracting clients across the nation. A website for your tax preparation service can potentially connect you with an almost unlimited supply of clients, which can play a crucial role in your company’s growth. All you need to do is focus on creating a well-designed site to maximize your outreach.

 

Build Stronger Relations with Clients

 

A website for a tax preparer is a great way to build stronger relations with your client base. For example, you can publish weekly blog posts, videos, or case studies to highlight your expertise while providing your audience with helpful content. Consistently publishing quality content is also a great marketing tool that can help you rank for different terms related to your industry. Over time, you will likely notice increased traffic to your site if you keep creating new content.

 

Gain a Competitive Edge

 

The accounting industry is highly competitive, as a website can play an essential role in separating your services from other businesses. You can use your website to establish your expertise and experience while discussing your available benefits. Showcasing reviews from past clients is also a great way to build trust and credibility. Providing free content is another key aspect to separating yourself from the competition, such as creating blog posts that answer common tax-related questions.

 

Closing Thoughts

 

A website is one of the top marketing tools for a tax preparer. A responsive web design is an excellent way to create the best user experience while extending your outreach to a global audience. You can even use your website to showcase your expertise by following a content marketing strategy that will help you rank higher in all the leading search engines. Optimizing and testing your site for desktop and mobile users is also vital in attracting a wide range of clients. You can choose from numerous tax prep website templates or work with a web design agency to create a modern design that best matches your needs.

 

As well as being the nation’s top tax-prep software provider, the professional team at Sigma Tax Pro also provides industry-specific website design and hosting for professionals looking to reach a specific target audience and provide them with the info for which they are searching. We will design/host your website so that it provides insight pertaining to industry specifications – We’ll either give your current website an industry-specific makeover or build your tax office an optimized site from start to finish.

 

To get started with client expansion via an industry-specific website and/or hosting services, please visit us online at Sigma Tax Pro.

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Professional Tax Articles

Should Tax Preparers Discuss the Odds of Being Audited with their Clients?

One of the primary goals of many tax preparation services is to reduce the chance of their self-employed clients being audited by the IRS. Asking a few questions and gathering enough information is key to decreasing the odds of getting audited. Taking the time to perform these steps requires more effort, but it’s well worth it for a tax preparer. Understanding how to limit IRS audit red flags creates a much better experience for both the tax preparer and the client.

Who Gets Audited by the IRS the Most?

The odds of being audited are significantly increased for self-employed taxpayers if they continue to take a loss on their business each year. However, the client is most likely safe from auditing if they report a profit for at least three out of five years.

It’s also essential for a tax preparer to report any amount of income from a self-employed client. Many clients falsely believe that their income isn’t taxable if it is under $600 for the year. Ultimately, self-employed taxpayers have much more leniency while filing taxes, which is one of the main reasons that they are under greater scrutiny.

Discussing Your Client’s Chances of Getting Audited

The chance of getting audited by the IRS always increases if there are several or glaring red flags. Professional tax preparation services will look at avoiding these red flags while ensuring that all information is accurate. A few of the standard IRS audit red flags include the home office deduction, large deductions for meals and travel, an inflated income, or income loss each year.

Reaching out to your self-employed clients to discuss the chances of getting audited by the IRS is vital in preparing them for this ever-present possibility, especially if they show several red flags on their tax returns. Typically, only one percent of taxpayers making less than $200,000 can expect to be audited. Of course, this percentage can be significantly higher for taxpayers who include any “oversized” deductions on their return.

A taxpayer that earns more than $1 million each year has a 12% chance of getting audited, while those earning between $200,000 and less than $1 million have a 4% chance of getting audited by the IRS. An experienced tax preparer can ensure that information gathered remains accurate as to avoid red flags. Of course, it’s still possible to be audited even if you don’t have any errors or red flags present on your taxes.

What Can Clients Expect During the Audit Process?

Taxpayers often misunderstand that an IRS representative will meet them at their front door to discuss an upcoming audit. However, the vast majority of audits are conducted through the mail instead of an in-person meeting. An initial letter will usually be received to provide instructions for contacting the IRS, while requesting additional information regarding your income, expenses, or any deductions.

Professional tax preparation services can help clients throughout this process to ensure they have all the documentation needed to support their claims. Tax preparers can work with self-employed clients to help them obtain all the required information while making the audit process less stressful. Enrolling in an audit assistance program is also an excellent option for making this situation more manageable.

What is an Audit Assistance Program?

Sigma Tax Pro offers an audit assistance program to guide clients throughout the audit process. Audit assistance will help clients receive the refund due, while covering Schedule A and Schedule C, without additional costs. This program will also manage all correspondence between the IRS and your client at a set fee. Sigma Tax Pro’s audit assistance program costs less than $60 for tax preparers, with preparers typically charging their clients an additional $39 above cost for these services, which is much more affordable than working with outside audit companies.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to avoid an audit is often a top priority for tax preparation services. A tax preparer can help clients prevent audits by ensuring that reported information is accurate. However, it’s still possible for a self-employed taxpayer to eventually be audited by the IRS. Investing in an Audit Assistance Program from Sigma Tax Pro is the best way to simplify this process while helping your clients receive the refunds they deserve if they have been denied education credits, EIC, child credits, or similar.

Now is a great time to partner with a professional tax preparer at Sigma Tax Pro to learn more!

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Professional Tax Articles

Tax Preparation Firm Challenges in Tax Season 2022

Tax season 2022 is already here, as dealing with numerous challenges is a reality for any tax preparation firm. Some of these issues with taxes are relatively minor, while others are much more complex. The impact of the pandemic only further complicates many of these problems. Staying proactive by looking at ways to overcome these different challenges is key to making tax season 2022 as smooth as possible.

Here is an overview of the top challenges facing tax preparation firms:

Importance of Tax Preparation Software with Support

Using software to assist with tax preparation is a necessity for any firm. Tax prep software can expedite the entire process while saving your team a lot of hard work. Investing in professional tax preparation software is especially beneficial in today’s workplace, as many companies continue to struggle to find and retain talent. Tax preparation software makes everyone’s jobs easier while requiring fewer employees to perform basic tasks.

The Never-Ending Tax Season Due to Covid Relief

One of the biggest obstacles for a tax firm is staying up to date with the ever-evolving programs offering Covid-relief for individuals and businesses. These relief programs play a crucial role in providing additional financial support, but they can also complicate tax season. Getting all of the necessary documentation from your clients is vital in streamlining this process. Staying current with these complex tax rules involving Covid relief programs is also key for tax preparation firms.

Keeping Up with New Tax Law Changes

Another challenge facing those working in tax preparation is keeping up with the different tax law changes in 2022. For example, the monthly child tax credit payments in 2021 can either increase or decrease the tax refund for your clients. Individuals may also qualify to receive the Recovery Rebate Tax Credit if they haven’t received their third stimulus check. Tax law changes in 2022 also allow clients to deduct $300 worth of cash donations without itemizing these costs. Considering all of these scenarios and how it impacts each client is critical for a professional tax preparer.

Working with the IRS

Dealing with the IRS is often a major hassle for a professional tax preparer. The pandemic forced many of the employees at the IRS to work from home, which is much different compared to working inside of an office. Additionally, many of these employees left the IRS or took a leave of absence, which created even more backlogs and delays. These different issues will make it even more challenging for tax preparation firms to work with the IRS during tax season 2022.

Implementing Emerging Technology

The tax prep industry never stays the same, but it’s constantly evolving each year. Keeping up with these different trends is critical in meeting your clients’ needs. Data analytics and robotic process automation (RPA) technology will significantly impact tax preparation firms within the next few years. Learning how to use this state-of-the-art technology can help you separate your tax firm from the competition and give you a much-needed edge by providing your clients with additional insights.

Managing a Hybrid Work Environment

Many tax preparation firms let their employees work from home while periodically making trips to the office. Managing this hybrid work environment isn’t easy during tax season. Using cloud computing with professional tax preparation software is a great way to overcome many of these problems. Employees can work with each other in real-time from different locations. The ability to access these documents on the cloud saves a professional tax preparer a lot of time and dramatically reduces the amount of paperwork.

Preparing Your Workforce

Taking a proactive approach towards tax season is essential for any tax firm. One way to plan for this busy time of the year is to evaluate and prepare your team ahead of time. For example, you may consider adding a few temporary employees to handle such a large volume of work. Training these new employees ahead of time will make the learning process much quicker and less stressful for everyone. You may even want to consider upgrading or adding new technology to help you stay well-prepared for tax season 2022.

Closing Thoughts

Tax preparation firms will continue to face numerous challenges throughout tax season 2022. Some of these issues are related to the pandemic and the lack of available workers. New tax laws for the 2022 filing season also create additional obstacles. Using professional tax preparation software can help firms overcome many of these issues while saving yourself a lot of time and energy. Investing in this technology will help you avoid costly mistakes, and it will also provide the best tax preparation services for each of your clients.

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Professional Tax Articles

Tax Preparation in the Era of Cloud Migration

Cloud migration is becoming increasingly popular for many accountant firms. Choosing to migrate to the cloud offers numerous benefits, such as increasing data security and making it easy to access client data from nearly any location. However, following a cloud migration strategy isn’t easy for most accountants. Understanding how to safely transfer client data while keeping mistakes to a minimum, as many accountants choose to work with tech professionals to ensure a smooth cloud migration process, is essential.

A Growing Virtual Workforce and COVID Safety Measures

Going “paperless” and “virtual” can increase data safety of organization and client information. Paperless options save money (behind rent, paper and ink are the largest cost in a traditional tax office) and can add features, such as remote signatures and the ability to text your clients from within your software. These upgrades can help streamline your process while keeping data safe. Cloud-based computing is also more compatible with the growing trend of a remote workforce, and a clientele that prefers to interact via technology rather than face-to-face, for reasons typically pertaining to health and safety.

Benefits of Cloud Storage

Uploading all of your documents onto the cloud is a great option for accounts due to the almost unlimited amount of storage space. Accountant firms can easily purchase additional cloud storage space or scale back during a less busy time of the year. Adding extra storage space is much more cost-effective than buying expensive hardware or trying to maintain an in-house server for your business. The flexibility of cloud computing is just one of the many reasons it’s such a popular alternative compared to manually storing all of these records on your hard drive.

Increasing efficiency is another one of the many benefits of cloud storage. Employees can quickly access records with only a few clicks of a button without wasting time searching through countless files in an office. Improving efficiency creates a less stressful work environment for employees while also helping your firm to provide even better customer service. Ultimately, using cloud-based accounting software is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing offers numerous benefits for accountants. One of the advantages of using the cloud is that it helps to boost cybersecurity for your organization. Cloud data is always protected with encryption, and it’s much more secure than storing this information on your computers in an office. You also won’t have to worry about giving in to the expensive demands of a ransomware attack, as all of your data is safely uploaded to the cloud.

Another benefit of using cloud accounting services is that this data is always available, whether in the office or at your home. Multiple employees can also work together in real-time, whether in the same room or two different cities. The accessibility of cloud computing enables employees to remain productive from nearly any location without staying inside the office at all times.

Cloud Security

The benefits of cloud computing wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t secure. Fortunately, the use of the cloud offers additional client data protection compared to storing this information in-house. You won’t have to worry about losing any client information due to a natural disaster impacting your office or if an employee accidentally overwrites a file. Cloud accounting software allows you to create real-time data backups, which is especially important due to the ever-growing number of cybersecurity concerns.

IRS: Safeguarding Taxpayer Data – Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself

The IRS is pressing the point of data security. Data stored locally or on the cloud should be protected and IRS publication 4557 provides a data security checklist. Advantages of storing data with a reputable cloud data company is that a large, “tech savvy” company can implement stronger security measures than a typical Tax Preparation firm.

How to Choose the Best Cloud Accounting Software?

Choosing the best cloud-based accounting software to meet your accounting firm’s needs isn’t always easy due to the numerous options available. One of the best ways to learn how to use cloud accounting software is with hands-on experience. Luckily, many cloud computing software programs allow you to take advantage of a free trial to see if it’s an excellent fit for your organization.

Following online tutorials can help you determine if a cloud accounting software program is a good fit for your business or if you need to look at other options. Comparing online reviews of different cloud service providers can help you decide which best fits your accounting firm. Asking for recommendations from others can help you narrow your selection, which saves you a lot of time and energy. Working with your IT team is also helpful in fully taking advantage of the many benefits of cloud computing.

Closing Thoughts

Cloud migration offers numerous benefits for accounting firms, large and small. Understanding all of the different benefits of using the cloud is essential, such as accessing data in real-time from any location, improving cybersecurity, and boosting employees’ productivity levels. The scalability of the cloud also gives your accounting firm much-needed flexibility to best meet the ever-changing needs of your business.

Of course, developing a cloud migration strategy with your IT team is vital in keeping downtime to a minimum and making the process as painless as possible. Working with IT professionals will help guide you throughout each stage of the cloud migration process, and they are always available if you need extra assistance. Migrating to the cloud may seem like a daunting task, but it’s well worth it for increasing cybersecurity. Now is one of the best times to consider migrating to the cloud to fully take advantage of the many benefits of using cloud-based accounting software.

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Professional Tax Articles

Benefits of Bank Products with Professional Tax Software

Preparing taxes for a variety of businesses requires a lot of time and effort for accounting firms. Using professional tax software is a great way to streamline this entire process while keeping everything well-organized. Choosing to use professional tax preparation software with bank products is an excellent investment that offers numerous features. These bank products are an additional service that tax preparers can offer to each client. Offering bank products is a great way to stand out from the competition while also providing more value to your clients.

Sigma Tax Pro’s Bank Products

Sigma Tax Pro offers various banking products to accounting firms, CPAs, and professional tax preparers. These banking products provide numerous benefits, whether you need PayDash for providing cash advances or if you need to use EPS Financial for its flexible electronic payment system. Using Refundo is a great way to expedite the entire process while also giving you access to detailed information on the go. Other banking products include Tax Products Group, Refund Advantage, and Republic Bank & Trust. Ian W. Gardner, Business Development Manager at Sigma Tax Pro states “With the delayed taxpayer funding last year, cash advances and bank products became more important than ever. By offering these products, many tax professionals were able to grow their business, while providing their customers with the financial bridge they needed.”

Here are a few of the main benefits of using professional tax preparation software with bank products:

Saves Time

Time is often short for accounting firms. Meeting deadlines and keeping clients happy is always a top priority. Using banking products and professional tax preparation software is a great way to save yourself a lot of time. Refundo makes it easy to review detailed information regarding tax documents, bank applications, office performance, and more with its innovative software. You can even add multiple users to your team and change access levels with only a few clicks of a button.

Boost Productivity

Finding ways to maximize productivity isn’t always easy. Using the top tax preparation software for professionals with banking products is a great way to make the job tasks for each employee much more effortless. PayDash makes it possible for you to confidently run your office, whether you need refund disbursement options or cash advances for your clients. These different features are easily accessible with professional accounting software, which helps streamline workflow and increase productivity.

Access to Real-Time Information

Another advantage of using professional tax software with banking products is that it gives you access to information in real-time. Refundo makes it possible for you to log in at any time view office performance, whether it’s on your PC, Mac, tablet, or smartphone. All of this information within professional accounting software will help you make decisions that are in the best interests of your company while also allowing you to meet the needs of each client.

Customization Options

The needs for accounting firms and tax preparers are constantly evolving, and they vary from company to company. Using Refund Advantage is the perfect solution for helping you to customize your account in an almost countless number of ways. One of the primary focuses of this product is to provide the best refund banking experience available. The Independent ERO offers numerous options and solutions to create a much smoother tax experience for everyone.

Increase Client Satisfaction

Keeping your clients happy is essential to staying in business. Using the top tax preparation software for professionals allows you to serve each one of your clients better. Gaining access to banking products and professional tax software is also a great way to streamline taxes and make the jobs of accounting firms easier. These banking products offer a variety of features, and they provide a strong customer support team that’s always happy to answer any questions and provide guidance on how to best use each product.

Scalability

The needs for accounting firms are constantly changing, whether they are adding new clients or scaling back their services during less busy times of the year. These banking products in professional accounting software give you the scalability to easily add new users with a few clicks of a button. Using these software solutions also gives you plenty of space to meet the growing needs of your business. All of these scalability options provide accounting firms with much-needed flexibility in today’s ever-changing work environment.

Closing Thoughts

Using professional tax preparation software with bank products is an excellent investment for accounting firms and other businesses managing taxes. Access to the top tax preparation software for professionals offers many benefits, such as saving you time, boosting productivity, and scalability options. Other advantages include countless customization choices, access to real-time information, and improving client satisfaction. Choosing to use professional tax software is a great way to rise above your competitors while helping you provide the best available services to your clients.

Now is a great time to reach out to Sigma Tax Pro to learn more about using our professional tax software and banking products!

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Professional Tax Articles

Can You Run Your Accounting Firm Remotely?

Remote accounting jobs were already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the workplace. Allowing employees to work from home offers immense benefits, and it will only continue to grow in the future. Cloud computing also makes it easy for remote accountants to perform various tasks from their computer or mobile device. While remote jobs offer plenty of benefits for accountants, it’s still important to keep a few things in mind to maximize your chance of success.

How Accountants Can Work from Their Home Office

One of the first steps in enabling accountants to work from home is to create a solid virtual infrastructure. Putting the right technology in place for work from home accounting jobs is essential in keeping this data safe. A data breach will always result in significant expenses, and it will also ruin your trust and relationship with your clients. An in-house IT team can help set up the necessary security protocols and monitoring services to maximize data security for anyone doing accounting work from home.

The next step is to implement a cloud solution for remote accounting jobs.  Using the cloud makes it possible to centralize your data management and give you access to updates in real-time for remote work. You can choose from various cloud service providers, as they will handle all of your IT maintenance to ensure everything is running as smoothly as possible. You also have the flexibility to scale up or down with the number of users and storage space to meet your accounting firm’s needs best.

Using a cloud service provider makes it much easier for accountants to work from home to log in and immediately go to work. In addition, access to data in real-time enables accountants to work with others despite being in different locations. Automatic software updates will also boost efficiency and provide remote accounting jobs with the latest security upgrades.

Here are a few things accounting firms need to keep in mind while working remotely:

Develop Information Security Policies

Implementing information security policies is essential for any remote job. Data protection is crucial for accounting firms, as these policies need to be easily accessible for each employee. These information security policies will provide detail on acceptable practices and the expectations for handling business operations. Keeping these policies up to date is also important due to the ever-evolving nature of technology.

Create a Cybersecurity Incident Plan

A cybersecurity-related incident can always happen at any time for remote accounting jobs. One way to prepare for these different scenarios is to create a cybersecurity incident response plan for remote jobs. These plans will provide a step-by-step procedure for handling a wide range of situations for working remotely. Ensuring each remote accountant understands these policies is critical in mitigating the damage of a data breach during remote work.

Use Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

Another critical tip in improving security for work from home accounting jobs is to create a strong password policy. Accounting firms need to require employees to use passwords of at least eight characters or more while including numbers and symbols. Never using the same password for each account is also critical for data security. Enabling multi-factor authentication also provides an added step of protection for remote accounting jobs.

Always Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Cybercriminals are always finding ways to intercept data transmitted across unsecured networks. One way to avoid this problem is to require remote work jobs always to use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN provides the best security by encrypting all of the internet traffic for remote jobs, making it almost impossible for computer hackers to access this confidential data.

Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Separating the lines between work and home isn’t always an easy task for remote jobs. Accounting firms need to encourage employees on how to set boundaries while working remotely to avoid burnout. Taking breaks throughout the day and getting some fresh air can make a big difference in reducing stress and helping a remote accountant maintain focus. Setting a schedule for each day and avoiding working hours past your normal times is also important in creating a healthy work-life balance for remote accounting jobs.

Closing Thoughts

Work from home jobs in the accounting industry will only continue to grow due to the widespread use of cloud computing. Understanding how to successfully manage remote accounting jobs is essential in avoiding mistakes and preventing employee burnout. Implementing the right technology in place will improve security for work from home jobs while also empowering accountants to be even more productive outside of an office environment. Implementing these simple steps can play a big role in helping your employees perform accounting work from home.

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Professional Tax Articles

What to Know About the New Child Tax Credit Payment

Tax season might be over but we are still seeing updates roll out, most recently when the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and the US Department of Treasury announced changes to the child tax credit programs. More than 35 millions households and low income families across the states will receive monthly payments starting mid July, and covering roughly 88% of children in the United States. The first payments will be sent out on July 15 and continuing on the 15th of every month automatically, unless the 15th falls on a weekend or a national holiday.

It was also announced that the maximum Child tax credit will be increased depending on the child’s age; $3600 for children younger than 6 years (up to $300 monthly payments), and $3000 for children between the age of 6 and 17(up to $250 monthly payments). Most American households can expect to receive funds through this program. Married couples with children filing jointly with adjusted gross income less than $150,000, or $75,000 for individuals will qualify for the full credit.

Most payments will be disbursed via direct deposit, to avoid any delays and confusion, similar to the stimulus payments that took place recently. However, if direct deposit information is inaccurate or not available, checks and debit cards will be delivered to those households. No action is required from parents to receive these payments.

The IRS is currently working on two portals to ensure all families and households have access by July 1st to ensure accuracy of information. This should be a great way for everyone, including non filers, to enter or update their most recent information.

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Accountants- Receiving Calls About Stimulus Checks and Taxes?

Accounting firms are presently in one of the busiest parts of the year, and  many people have questions about how their stimulus checks will impact their taxes. Some people have already received all three stimulus payments, while others have yet to receive anything. These different timeframes for receiving stimulus payments often creates even more confusion on how it will impact their taxes.

Expect Calls and Use Them to Expand Services Offered

Accounting firms should expect to receive a large number of phone calls related to stimulus checks and taxes. Educating each client is essential in eliminating any confusion related to these payments while also providing you a great way to build rapport with each person. These phone calls give you a perfect opportunity to discuss your accounting services and how your business can help them manage all of their taxes.

Highlighting the benefits of using your tax pro software is an excellent way to create a valuable partnership with businesses. Offering tax and accountant services for business development is a great way to keep costs to a minimum while also saving each customer time and effort. Phone calls related to stimulus payments and taxes will only continue to increase, as it provides a perfect opportunity to offer additional accounting services.

Question to Expect: Will I Get a Stimulus Check If I Owe Taxes?

Many people are concerned about not receiving their stimulus check if they owe the government taxes. For example, the IRS will automatically use a tax refund to pay off any outstanding taxes, student loans, or child support payments. However,  most taxpayers will not have to worry about the government withholding stimulus money due to taxes.

These stimulus checks are designed to give the economy a boost while also helping to cover basic needs. Eligible recipients will receive a check from the IRS even if they owe taxes. However, this may not be the case if the stimulus was not sent directly to the taxpayer, and has to be claimed on the income tax return as a tax credit and  it’s always a good idea to pay off tax debts as soon as possible to avoid significant legal problems and additional fines.

Question to Expect– Are Stimulus Checks Taxable?

Receiving a stimulus payment is one of the few times you can gain money without having to report it as income on your tax return. This additional source of income is perfect for paying off debts or helping to pay for necessities. In many cases, the IRS uses tax returns from 2018 to determine eligibility for these benefits or use 2019 tax returns if taxes are already filed.

Not Your Typical Tax Credit

These stimulus payments are technically a tax credit, but even better, it is a refundable tax credit.

For example, if you owe $1,500 in taxes but had a refundable credit of $1,800, you would get a $300 tax refund from the government.

How to Recover Missed Stimulus Payments

You can also receive your stimulus check from 2020 on your tax return if you could not get the first or second stimulus payments you were eligible to receive last year. Many taxpayers who used a bank product to receive their tax refund experienced this problem. You will also not have to worry about paying the stimulus back if your income in 2020 was much higher compared to your 2018 or 2019 tax return.

Closing Thoughts

Keeping up with all of the various rules impacting taxes and stimulus checks isn’t an easy task for most people unless you are a tax accountant. Misconceptions about taxes are an all too common occurrence, as accounting firms will continue to play a critical role in educating clients about how their stimulus checks will impact their taxes. Keeping all of these questions in mind is important for accounting services to meet each client’s needs best.

 

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Professional Tax Articles

Change Professional Tax Software Before Tax Season

If you’re thinking about updating your firm’s professional tax software, the ideal time to do it is well ahead of tax season. Changing your tax software in the middle of tax season can create chaos at the most inopportune time.

Why change your professional tax software?

There’s an old adage that goes: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Many accountants and tax preparation firms try to apply this to everything, including software systems. With software, though, something that worked reasonably well in the past can quickly be superseded by a much better alternative. The old software still works, in the sense of being more or less functional. In the years since the organization adopted it, however, it may have become unwieldy and inadequate, no longer appropriate for the needs of a growing and changing business.

Outdated and inefficient tax software brings with it a number of issues. Firstly, it may take more time to use that newer, more appropriate software. There’s often a steep learning curve when new staff is brought on. The inductee has to grapple with non-intuitive interfaces, memorize keyboard shortcuts, and learn workarounds for software deficiencies. Entering new information can be laborious and time-consuming. Errors can start to crop up as the older software is asked to cope with too many files or because manual changes are overlooked.

Technology always moves forward, and burgeoning companies can quickly outgrow software systems. The larger your company becomes, the more complex your tax situation is, and the more demands will be placed on your tax software. That’s why it can be useful to evaluate your current software and decide whether you might want to upgrade to a new system.

Why change before the tax season?

The run-up to the end of the tax year tends to be a busy time for accounts departments. Adding to their usual burdens by introducing a new software system is a recipe for disaster. In a rush to compile all the relevant data, check documentation and finalize reports, it’s too easy for errors to creep in. Without sufficient time for thorough checks and careful monitoring, records can be lost during the transfer process. Duplicate entries may be created; incorrect figures may be entered; many possible issues can arise.

Staff also need time and training to get to grips with the new software. Even the most intuitive, easy-to-use tax software will require a period of adjustment. Staff who were power users of the old software may find that it takes a frustratingly long time to reach a similar level of expertise with the new package. This is particularly true when the system has more features and capabilities than the old one.

Choosing new professional tax software

When you’re ready to take the plunge and update your tax software, you’ll need to find quality software that comes with plenty of support. Sigma Tax Pro offers web-based and desktop demos, allowing you to explore all its features before deciding to buy.

With Sigma Tax Pro you’ll also get expert support, beginning even before you adopt the software. As a prospective customer, you’ll receive prompt and professional replies to all of your email queries. Once you’ve adopted Sigma Tax Pro, you’ll reap the benefits of outstanding customer service agents. During tax season, Sigma Tax Pro’s office hours are extended, and customer service agents are on standby, ensuring that urgent queries are resolved swiftly.

Adopting new software well before the beginning of tax season ensures that all your records are transferred seamlessly and that all your staff knows their way around the latest software. Find out how changing your professional tax software could help your accountancy or tax preparation business.

 

 

 

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In the Era of COVID-19, What’s The Best Way to Communicate With Tax Clients?

If the COVID-19 global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are capable of finding ways to stay productive. This is especially true for accountants and tax preparers. Working from home may pose some challenges, but it has also forced professionals to seek creative ways to communicate via teleconferencing with screen sharing and video chats. In the era of COVID-19, though, what is the best way to communicate with your tax clients and prospective clients?

Are you interested in learning more? Keep reading for suggestions on how to best communicate with your tax clients.

Face-to-Face Communication

Many times, clients want to meet in an office to discuss their tax situations or tax needs. While this method may be the riskiest, it is still possible to meet safely. As recommended by the CDC, many states must wear face masks. This means your staff and your clients should have their mouths and noses fully covered. Utilize large conference rooms to meet so that all parties can remain 6 feet apart. Avoid exchanging paperwork if at all possible. Instead, send over electronic copies of all documents and then discuss them in person. Also, have sanitizer readily available and make sure to skip the routine handshake.

TeleConferencing

With technology, it’s even easier to discuss tax situations with your clients over the phone. Especially in the era of COVID-19, your clients may prefer to skip the face-to-face meeting. Before launching a teleconference with multiple parties, ensure that all parties have the documents they need readily available. Ask your current tax clients to make a list of questions, too, so that you can be more helpful and make the most of the time you have during the teleconference.

Video Conferencing

One of the best alternatives to meeting in person is the use of video conferencing. When you can see your clients, and they can see you, it may minimize any miscommunication that could occur on a telephone call. You get the opportunity to gauge your clients’ understanding of the materials presented and help clarify tax laws and tax situations. Video conferencing also allows accountants and tax preparers to make an excellent first impression when meeting prospective clients.

Preparing for Any Tax Client Meeting

It’s always best to make the process of preparing and taxes as easy as possible for everyone involved, which is why we recommend Sigma Tax Pro. This comprehensive tax prep software offers a user-friendly interface and web-based and desktop versions of the tax software. Sigma Tax Pro features various software package options that include easy-to-use forms and on-call exclusive account managers to help navigate intuitive features. With Sigma Tax Pro, you can create electronic reports to send directly to your clients before or after a face-to-face, teleconference, or video conference call.

The Ultimate Tax Prep Software: Sigma Tax Pro

If you’re seeking to simplify the process of running your tax prep or accounting business, it’s time to invest in one of the Sigma Tax Pro packages. This innovative software is perfect for accounting professionals who need a simpler option for organizing documents, receipts, and forms. Sigma Tax Pro offers professional tax preparation software with bank products and best-in-class technical and tax prep support. Including software for form 1040 preparation and 1120, Sigma has everything you need to make your tax preparation business successful this season.