Tax season is a peculiar time of the year for tax professionals. Depending on how well they manage their work, it can be the most lucrative time for them or the most stressful. However, issues like tax scams, changing tax regulations, and unreasonable client expectations do not make it easy for them. Here is how to rock your tax season with cloud technology.
With such a pressure cooker situation, the last thing the tax preparers need is a subpar IT infrastructure. Hence, the tax firms are always looking for a better IT solution than their local premises to thrive in the tax season.
One of the best platforms to accomplish tax filing is the â€œcloud.â€� Its rapid adoption is a testament to the numerous perks it offers to businesses all around the globe.
For you, as a tax preparer, cloud technology offers a flexible, scalable, and secure environment for tax applications and data.
Here are some ways in which you can rock your tax season by adopting cloud technology.
1. File Taxes Anywhere
The tax season is the busiest time of the year for a tax preparer. There are numerous clients waiting for tax professionals to file their returns. In such a time, you need a solution that can help tax professionals keep track of their tax apps and data al all times.
However, this is not possible in the case of legacy IT systems as your apps are installed in one system only. Hence, as soon as you are out of the office, there is no way you can cater to the clients.
Cloud technology offers tax professionals the ability to access their tax data and applications from any location at any time. The apps and data can be achieved through a web browser and a moderate internet connection. The tax professionals just need to put in the right login credentials, and they are good to go.
2. Get Complete Protection from Cyber Threats
Security is of prime concern when it comes to handling the tax data, especially during the tax season. Tax scams, phishing attacks, and data breaches are part and parcel of every tax season. Following the tradition, the IRS announced its â€œDirty Dozenâ€� list of tax scams for 2020 as well.
However, for a tax firm, it is quite tiresome to deploy preventive measures; even more when they have so much on their plate. Â Moreover, it costs an additional budget to create a high-end security environment for the office premises.
In the case of cloud, once you opt for the cloud services of a third-party provider, the provider is responsible for ensuring complete data security. However, it also matters on your choice of cloud services. The good ones deploy a security infrastructure with safeguards at multiple levels, be it physical, network, admin, or endpoint security.
Some of the security safeguards include-
- Data encryption from the cloud server to the endpoint device
- Two-factor Authentication
- Ransomware Protection
- Access Control Policy
- 24/7 Network Monitoring
- Intrusion Detection and Prevention System
3. Collaborate Efficiently
With such a time crunch during the tax season, collaboration can be a challenging task. The traditional method of requesting information from a client is via email. However, during the tax season, it will help if you have a more efficient and swift communication channel.
Cloud technology streamlines dataflow between your team and the clients. It offers one platform for all the stakeholders to store and share the information. You can access the cloud portal to the clients, and they can add or edit the relevant information from their location.
You can access the information simultaneously from your location. A good example of this would be Google Spreadsheets. Moreover, you can also give different levels of permission – access only or edit to the team members based on their role.
Moreover, some cloud-based apps also offer video conferencing features. This saves your trip to the clientâ€™s office as all the vital information can be enquired through video calls. Some applications include Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, Google Meet, etc.
4. Continue Working During Disasters
Letâ€™s assume that you have deployed a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure in your office with all the necessary security safeguards. But what if the entire location falls victim to an event such as an earthquake or flood, and that too during the tax season? Where are you going to shift the local IT infrastructure?
In such unfortunate situations, it is near impossible to have a contingency plan.
This is one of the major reasons why most businesses are opting for cloud services. Competent cloud providers include disaster recovery procedures in their services. Under disaster recovery, your entire tax process (all apps and data) is replicated on servers situated in geographically distant data centers.
Hence, if one data center cannot function due to a disaster, you get access to another one. You will not even realize the occurrence of such an event and continue working as if nothing happened.
5. Scale Your Operations Instantly
As far as the hardware infrastructure is concerned, scaling refers to increasing or decreasing the system resources like RAM, storage, etc. However, due to the inflexible nature of physical computer systems, this can only be achieved through manual hardware replacements. During the tax season, this could mean the wastage of valuable billable hours.
One of the major perks of moving your tax process to the cloud is its flexible infrastructure. On the cloud, the resources are virtual and can be scaled almost instantly. Hence, during the tax season, if you suddenly need additional RAM or storage for your apps, you can add it as per requirement. Once the tax season ends, you can scale down the resources and save costs.
6. Access Tax process on Multiple Devices
There is no one oblivious to the hassles of working on a computer system. Either the hard disk crashes, or there is some problem with the operating system. Worst still, the data gets corrupted and cannot be accessed anymore. If any of these issues occur, there is not much you can do because the entire applications and data are on a single device.
However, when your tax process is hosted on the cloud, you can access your applications and data from multiple devices, be it your smartphones, laptops, or tablets.
As the actual tax data and apps are hosted on remote cloud servers, and the devices are just a means to access it, it does not matter if your endpoint device runs into a problem. You can pick up another device and continue working from where you left off.
7. Optimum Performance for your Apps
During such a loaded couple of months, most tax professionals often complain about the performance of their tax applications. This is because the systems have limited resources that can only take a certain amount of load; overloading the systems can cause it to hang.
If you opt for cloud services, the renowned service providers deploy a High-Performance Computing (HPC) environment for the applications. HPC deploys parallel processing, which enables you to run multiple applications simultaneously. Moreover, you can also give access to any number of users who can work in real-time, without worrying about the performance of the applications.
8. Get Quick Resolution to All your issues
Tax season is all about time management. Tax professionals work round the clock to accommodate more and more clients. Any technical issue during this time can cause a loss of business and reputation. Hence, you need to make sure that your local IT support system is efficient. For this, you might also need to add more workforce during this time.
A good solution to this is choosing a cloud service provider with competent customer support. Most renowned providers have a team of experts that offer 24/7/365 IT support through multiple platforms â€“ call, chat, and email. Most of them also guarantee a minimum response time, so you get a swift resolution to your issues.
9. Get All-time Availability
All that the tax professionals want is the constant availability of their tax process. However, every hardware has a lifecycle and is bound to experience some issues every now and then. Until that issue gets fixed, you have no choice but to wait. It might be acceptable in normal times, but during the tax season, it can cost you heavily.
With cloud technology, you get all-time availability of your applications and data. The service providers achieve this by deploying multi-redundant cloud infrastructure so that if one hardware fails, the redundant one is deployed immediately.
10. No Need to Worry About Data Backup
When tax season is concerned, data is an essential entity. But with the increasing volumes of data, so does the hassles of managing data backup. Moreover, it takes time and effort to take the backup manually, which you do not have during the busy season.
With cloud, most providers offer data backup as a part of their services. However, it is recommended to choose the provider that offers automatic backup solutions. The backup should be taken on a daily basis with no limitation on the storage capacity. This ensures that any lost data due to corruption or accidental deletion is recovered quickly without many efforts.
11. Get the Help of AI and Big Data
Technologies like AI and big data are slowly but surely transforming the tax industry. The use of AI-based tools helps in automating menial tasks like classifying expenses, analyzing costs, and the tax compliance process. However, it is not feasible to manage the huge volumes of data on the local storage or the performance required for processing.
Cloud is the best platform toÂ support AI-based tools that use big data to automate tasks and reduce tax risks. With cloud, you get unlimited storage and a high-processing capacity that can easily accommodate such tools.
12. No Need For IT Maintenance
In your office premises, you must have noticed your IT team toiling hard to undergo constant hardware maintenance. Moreover, the faulty hardware equipment needs to be replaced every now and then. Although these maintenance activities are necessary, they can take a lot of time during the tax season.
With cloud services, you can forget about the hardware and keep working. As the providers own the hardware, they are in charge of hardware maintenance and replacement. As they deploy hardware redundancy, the scheduled maintenance can be accomplished without affecting your availability to the applications.
13. Maintain Work-life Balance
Tax season means an extensive workload for tax preparers, leading to added mental stress and abnormal routine. All you need is a little bit of extra time to relax and spend time with your family. However, it is just not possible while putting long hours in the office.
By adopting the cloud, you can maintain a healthy work-life balance, even during the tax season. Since you work from the comfort of your home, it helps you save time spent on commuting. Hence, you can have a conversation with your family and also eat with them. This not only takes the stress out of the hectic tax season but also increase your productivity.
14. Get All Tools in One Place
During the tax season, you might need the help of various software tools to manage your work. Apart from the main tax software, these tools can be used to accomplish a variety of tasks, such as organization, file management, CRM, and more. However, installing and maintaining these tools in each system can be quite tiresome.
With cloud, all your apps can be installed in one centralized location. Since there are no limitations on the number of users and the apps, you can give access to the entire team. This gives you an integrated solution for your tax process.
Tax season brings with it abundant opportunities for you to grow your business and create a good reputation in the industry. However, a successful tax season is possible only if you adopt the latest technologies in your process. Cloud is one such technology that brings in much-needed mobility into your process. It also helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle, even among the busy schedule.
Try out cloud services for your tax process to stay ahead of the competition in the tax season.
Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels