Technology will have to evolve more efficiently to integrate with firms' tax practices, and not just help practitioners perform arithmetic, said tax industry and Internal Revenue Service veteran Lenny Holt at the American Institute of CPAs' information technology conference, Tech+, here.Holt, now with CCH's Firm Services Unit, said that while technology has made quantum leaps since 1986 -- when just 25,000 1040s were e-filed, as opposed to the 76 million in 2007 -- the distinction between tax accounting and other financial services is blurring, and the facility to consolidate that integration is technology."Clients using tax professionals for more than just taxes and technology is a big part," Holt told attendees during a session titled "Technology and Your Tax Practice."Tim Shortlseeve, a partner at the Rochester, N.Y.-based CPA firm of Bonn, Shortsleeve & Ray, told attendees that to hone best technology practices for tax preparation, firms must create an in-house project team and appoint a project champion -- one person with both decision-making and budget-approval powers.The project team's to-do list includes such items as evaluating workflow options, documenting new policies and procedures, and identifying changes to software. A firm must also have an IT technician, even if they have to outsource one."You have to ask yourself, are you using your current technology to your best advantage?" asked Shortsleeve. "And don't overlook training. The dollars you spend on training will come back tenfold."Other checklist items include installing multiple monitors and establishing remote access."You have to communicate the plans and expectations to everyone in the firm," he said. The session included product demonstrations from tax software publishers CCH, Intuit and Thomson.

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