Getting tax prep clients to use your tax practice’s portals can be a serious challenge, but communicating the familiar benefits of portals is an excellent first step, according to accounting and tax technology expert Roman Kepczyk.

Portals can serve as an excellent way for practices to securely deliver and exchange tax source documents, returns, financial statements and other necessary tax prep material with clients. In a portal primer originally published in The Practicing CPA and available on the site of the cloud computing and technology consulting service firm Xcentric, Kepczyk outlines talking points to getting clients to use your portal:

  • Clients may already be familiar with the portal concept -- without necessarily realizing it -- from such services as online banking or payroll.
  • Portals are secure. Most vendor-hosted portals, for instance, are housed in sophisticated data centers and run by teams that continuously monitor activity.
  • Portals offer 24/7 accessibility (including pre-set limits to accessibility), and recipients are automatically and instantly notified when a file is uploaded or accessed.
  • Transfers of larger files, such as PDFs or QuickBooks files, often aren’t possible, or very easy, to do via e-mail – but portals handle them easily.
  • Portals use digital files, which can cut paper use.
  • All owners and staff of a practice need to be educated about these points and should themselves use the practice’s portals regularly. Employees could also be made more familiar with portals.

Some of the best first clients to approach about using your portal, Kepczyk added, are business clients who would use the portal for both individual and business tax documents. For annual return clients, e-mail or snail-mail notification may be more practical, he noted.