My approach in the last e-file post was to focus on practice management and process; however, many of the messages received were centered on data security and the hacking away of our rights by the Feds. Responder Travis Drouin, I think, said it best:
“Concerns about IRS systems security, for example, are likely valid or at least worth further consideration, but the requirement to e-file returns doesn't alter the vulnerability of information provided to the IRS, whether by electronic or paper means. Does that escape anyone's attention? What do you think the IRS does with the paper returns…they hand-key them into an electronic format. Also, let's imagine a different reality, one where electronic filing were available to practitioners for the past 20 years or more…and the IRS were now asking that everyone file on paper, or maybe some other new means of filing. What would everyone's reaction be then? Change? No thanks. I want e-filing as it is. Seriously folks, this is a simple evolutionary change, not revolutionary, and the opportunities as practitioners should be embraced, not scorned or feared. Efficiencies for your practice and clients are available, but won't be obvious until you change your mindset. For my fellow skeptics, Big Brother was already there, and e-filing won't change that for the good OR the bad. Jody has it right in her post...embrace change and lead.”
The key message I take away here is “revolutionary” versus “evolutionary.” I agree, e-filing is not a revolution…no one needs to raise their musket and rush the Bastille. Electronic filing simply doesn’t warrant that sort of attention. It’s one of many natural evolutions within our profession—whether that’s the evolution of technology, best practices, or something else. Change is constant. It will continue to come, so as a profession we must face change and navigate through it to be successful. With that said, I think there is a deeper issue here; one that is based on fear of change—specifically when it comes to technology.
Technology is scary. I admit that openly. But I also know that changes in technology and the way we do business will continue to come, whether I dig my heels in or not. I understand this fear because I know that there is still a lack of general technology skill among smaller firms and sole practitioners. There is also the issue of finding solutions at a reasonable cost and getting the proper support to implement them. My firm partner, for example, initially believed that he could not waste his valuable time of figuring out the e-filing technology. However, as we rolled out new technologies and provided the proper support to ascend the learning curve, he is seeing the value of a digital process. It’s a matter of getting passed the initial negative, fearful mindset and just learning it. Once you get passed this first big (and, yes, sometimes painful) step, the water is clear and the sky is blue. Technology is the future and helps immensely with elevating efficiency and streamlining workflow. It’s an evolution. And we all have to move through it together.
Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.