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.

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.

Professional Tax Articles

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.


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.




Professional Tax Articles

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.


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.

Professional Tax Articles

Issues Accountants Are Dealing with Related to COVID-19

COVID-19 has raised several new issues for accountants. Clients’ finances have often been thrown into disarray, and it’s up to their accountants to help make sense of a complicated situation. Dealing with stimulus checks, disaster relief loans, the sudden loss of income, and possibly even bankruptcy are just some of the issues that accountants now have to help their clients with as they navigate a dramatically changed financial landscape.

Loss of income

Loss of income is one of the most common financial effects of the pandemic. Many entities are affected, from individual earners up to the largest companies.

On an individual level, many people have found themselves suddenly out of work. Businesses have cut staff to stay afloat during the crisis or have been forced to cease operating altogether, resulting in multiple sudden job losses. Where businesses have been able to retain their staff, personnel may have dramatically altered their working arrangements. Some have been furloughed, allowed to remain on the payroll at a reduced rate of pay. Others have been shifted to home-working and may receive less compensation in their new roles. Still, others have had their hours cut, with a corresponding reduction in pay.

Of course, this has a knock-on effect as those people can no longer pay their usual rent or other expenses. Many landlords have been impacted by this, losing the income from their properties. This has left some unable to meet mortgage payments or other costs associated with property ownership.

Financial effects on enterprises

Many businesses have sustained significant losses, either as a direct effect of the pandemic and the regulations put in place to contain it or indirectly through a loss of custom. For example, a restaurant that is forced to close due to emergency restrictions would immediately suffer a loss of income. Even if the restaurant was able to continue operating by serving take-out and delivery food, they might still struggle to survive if customers can no longer afford their services.

Stimulus checks

While some people are eligible for unemployment if they lose their jobs due to the pandemic and the attendant restrictions, not all are. Stimulus checks have been issued to many individuals who have been impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 virus. As a way to help those affected make ends meet and help the economy continue functioning, stimulus payments have been provided. Accountants will need to help their clients understand what payments are available and how these might help them.

Small business disaster assistance

Some small businesses affected by the pandemic may be eligible for a low-interest loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Providing that there has been a declared disaster, small businesses and some homeowners may be able to obtain one of these loans to cope with the pandemic’s effects.

The Paycheck Protection Program

The SBA also assists with the Paycheck Protection Program. This is a loan paid to small businesses as an incentive to keep employees on the payroll, rather than laying them off or putting them on unpaid leave during the ongoing crisis.

These and many other issues continue to affect individuals and businesses of all sizes. Helping clients to understand the complicated situation, particularly if they’re facing bankruptcy, can be a difficult task for any accountant. Investing in quality professional tax software can be a great help to all concerned. It allows users to calculate taxes correctly, no matter how complex a financial situation may have become.

Professional Tax Articles

Facebook’s Immense Marketing Potential: What Accounting Firms Need to Know

The popularity and reach of social media – and particularly the world’s most popular social media platform, Facebook – cannot be denied.

Monthly, a staggering 2.5 billion people around the globe turn to Facebook for news, communication, shopping, games, videos, and much more. There’s a seemingly endless supply of information and entertainment available on the web-based platform, which is completely free to use.

While the information-sharing advantages of Facebook are clear from the individual user’s perspective, millions of businesses and organizations have created business pages of their own. They are bolstering their digital presence by connecting with customers via post comments and Facebook Messenger, as well as touting the advantages of their products and services to many.

In short, more and more companies realize that they cannot afford to forego having a strong presence on Facebook.

However, for accounting firms such as Sigma Tax Pro, it isn’t enough to establish a Facebook account. On the contrary, accounting businesses must take practical and calculated steps to stand out from the Facebook crowd for the right reasons.

The following guidelines will help large and small accounting houses alike to make Facebook work for them.

A Picture is Worth a Million Words

A substantial portion of Facebook users access the platform while on the go – during bus rides, between meetings, and amid long grocery-store lines, for example – and don’t care to read long-winded bodies of text before knowing the gist of the story. Other Facebook regulars maintain busy schedules while dedicating a set amount of time to the website/app each day. But informative story or not, everyone enjoys crisp, meaningful, and attention-grabbing pictures.

Building on this point, accounting firms stand to increase impressions (the number of times a post from your page is displayed to potential and current clients) and attract potential clients not only with multi-paragraph posts or newly designed logos but with notable, fun and eye-catching images. From office parties to special occasions and seemingly minor happenings (like the purchase of a new office espresso machine), to company outings, Facebook users love pictures and learning more about the people behind the brands.

Accounting firms should include links to in-depth articles and should publish pictures and videos frequently. Facebook users – those seeking detailed knowledge and those seeking amusement – will appreciate the effort, and long-term profitability will grow in tandem with the additional attention to brands, products, and services offered.

Use Facebook to Tell a Story

Facebook users (and clients in general) love to learn more about companies and organizations – how they got started, new services offered, and how the company can help solve a problem for their clients. In this vein, accounting firms would do well to tell a story on Facebook.

It’s highly recommended that accounting houses use Facebook to showcase employees (possibly with lists of their hobbies, interests, and accomplishments), employees’ pets, community initiatives, and other similarly refreshing content so that potential clients can learn more about the people they will be working with when doing business with a particular firm.

The perks of telling a story on Facebook (as opposed to relaying general information and business-as-usual media) are multifaceted. First, potential clients will be drawn to the brand at-hand – even if they’re not immediately in the market for accounting or tax services. Secondly, the relationship with existing clients will be better solidified. And finally, a strong presence on social media will illustrate tech-savviness and a commitment to innovation.

Cumulatively, these three points make for more business and a broader overall reach, for accounting firms.

The Bottom Line: Facebook as an Accounting-Firm Marketing Tool

There’s never been a better time than now for accounting firms to see how Facebook can prove beneficial. The enrollment process is free, the posting is straightforward, and the possibilities to reach a broader target audience are endless.

Thanks for reading… and remember to consult Sigma Tax Pro for all your accounting software needs.

Professional Tax Articles

Off Season is the Best Time to Consider Changing Tax Prep Software

It’s no secret that tax time is the busiest time of the year for accountants and tax preparers. While it’s important to get some much needed rest and relaxation during the off season, it’s also the best time to evaluate what’s working for your tax business and what’s not.

One important consideration is the current tax prep software you are using. It is providing you with a user-friendly experience? Does your tax prep software have all the bells and whistles you need to better serve your clients? If not, the offseason is the best time to consider changing tax prep software.

Making the Choice

We know that the market is flooded with software promising to simplify tax preparation. We also know you, as a tax professional, have many options. That’s why we’d like to walk you through the benefits of using Sigma Tax Pro, a comprehensive tax prep software that allows you to not only prepare taxes with ease and file the best returns for your clients, but also allow you to organize documents and keep track of your clients throughout the year – not just during the busy tax season.

Interested in learning more? Keep reading.

Sigma Tax Pro takes innovation to the next level. And, the offseason is the perfect time to explore its capabilities. Whether you are a small accounting firm or a tax preparer with a large client base, know that Sigma Tax Pro can offer you the solution you need to not only simplify tax preparation, but also help you organize your financial and accounting records.

Your Tax Preparation Software Options

Sigma Tax Pro is happy to provide you with two very viable options of our innovate tax preparation software.

  • Option 1: Sigma 1040-CL, our most popular service software package, offers both web-based and desktop versions. You can utilize the CrossLink Professional Tax Software that offers support during the off season and through the busy tax season months. You have the ability to assign an account manager and utilize the bank products that give your clients the choice of receiving funds through direct deposit or on prepaid credit cards. In addition, Sigma 1040-CL is equipped with easy-to-use forms, the ability to create customized reports and a library of state and federal forms that are easy to access.
  • Option 2: The Sigma 1040-DR package takes the basic Sigma 1040-CL to the next level. Not only do you get the same innovative features, but you can also convert archived files directly into the software platform, utilize the step-by-step tax preparation interview method and process state and federal business tax returns. Find the support your need with an exclusive account manager and utilize the features that allow you to compare the results of filing jointly or separately.
  • Option 3: Prepare yourself for the big time with Sigma 1040-TW, the top-of-the-line tax preparation software that includes forms and interview methods to simplify data entry as well as the option to transfer files from previous years into the software. Take advantage of the profiling, executive and power accounting features, as well as all of the features available with the Sigma 1040-CL and Sigma 1040-DR packages.

While time is limited during the busy tax season, your off season is the perfect time to explore the capabilities of Sigma Tax Pro tax preparation software.

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 as well as 1120, Sigma has everything you need to make your tax preparation business successful this season.

Professional Tax Articles

5 Ways to protect your office in the age of cyber security

There are many different ways that cyber criminals attempt to gain information, and lately tax professionals have been a target. With such a large amount of sensitive taxpayer data being stored in offices, it is more important than ever to make sure that you have the proper safeguards in place. As the saying goes, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.”
  1. Utilize cloud storage – by removing the need for files to be stored locally, you can rely on the security of a professional cloud based storage solution. Just like you specialize in tax preparation, they specialize in keeping your data secure.
  2. Virtual Servers – when your software and information are stored on a computer in your office, it creates a single location that can be targeted. It also avoids the need to network multiple computers together, which creates more opportunities for a breach.
  3. VPN – (Virtual Private Network) This gives a large tax office significantly increased security no matter where its team is connecting from. Preparers can login to the network from home or on the road and enjoy the same security as if they were in the office.
  4. Anti-Virus protection – Why put your business and client information at risk? Prevent, detect and destroy computer viruses, worms, trojans, adware and more.
  5. Backup Disaster Recovery – whether it’s snow storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes, most areas are susceptible to some type of natural disaster. By having offsite secure backups, you can ensure that your office and client information is never in danger of being lost.

Taking these simple steps will make your office more secure, and also make your clients feel safer. The security of personal information has become more important than ever to many consumers, so by securing your office, you are also gaining client trust.

Professional Tax Articles

Growing your business and minimizing your risk

If you ask most business owners, they would say one of their main goals is growth. In the professional tax preparation industry it can be more challenging, due to the complex nature of the work, and the specific training required to do it correctly. Many tax pro’s state that they cannot find someone they can trust to open a second office, or take over a managerial role. With so much sensitive financial information available, office security needs to be a primary concern.

One great way to grow safely without being in multiple places at once is to work with a tax software that allows you to control every access level for things in your office, as well as review every file before it is submitted to the IRS for processing. As technology improves, and security becomes more of a concern, successful tax offices will be those that embrace the change and find new ways to use the many tools available. This is especially important if you have others working under a shared EFIN. The EFIN holder is ultimately responsible for what is on those returns, so being able to review and correct before they are submitted is very valuable. Certain professional tax software products offer the main office, or main ERO the ability to control every aspect of their office remotely without being in the physical location.

Keep these requirements in mind when choosing your software for the upcoming season.