Clients disappointed with tax refunds, expect more from accountants

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Over half of tax clients (53 percent) aren’t positive that their accountant fully minimizes their tax payment, and 46 percent were disappointed by the size of their tax refund last year, according to a new survey.

The survey, by practice management software provider Canopy, nevertheless found that 85 percent of those surveyed would recommend their accountant.

The top reasons cited by the individual and business taxpayers polled for what they value most about the relationship they have with their tax accountant are in-person communications, the ability to send and receive documents online, and guidance and knowledge about taxes. The top three things they said they would change about working with their accountant are more in-person meetings, more timely response, and better technology to streamline interactions.

Taxpayers are increasingly relying on technology for doing their taxes and communicating with their tax preparers, especially during the novel coronavirus pandemic. While offering the ability to exchange documents online with their accountants is extremely important for taxpayers, only 2 percent of the respondents said that their accountant offers an online portal. Currently, the most common ways clients exchange documents with their accountant are during in-person meetings, through hard printouts and via email.

“The accounting industry is rapidly changing, but above all, client expectations are centered around technology-enabled support and services as millennials and generation Z start engaging accounting and tax services,” said Canopy chief product officer Larry Furr in a statement Thursday. “While in-person meetings remain indispensable for most clients, we are in a position where this isn’t very likely and being able to access their accountant and documents online is clearly a critical prerequisite right now.”

Seventy-eight percent of the taxpayers surveyed said the technology their accountant uses to make tax preparation easy is important. The top technologies they cited for improving the way they work with their accountants were an online way to send and receive documents, text chat for questions and answers, and the ability to set and change appointments online. Business owners are twice as likely as individual taxpayers to say they like being able to send and receive documents online, according to the survey, while women are nearly twice as likely as men to want online chat as a feature.

Many tax clients are unaware of the post-filing services offered by their accountants. One out of three clients didn’t know if their tax accountant provides audit protection services. Business owners are two times less likely than non-business owners to know if their accountant provides audit protection services. Thirty-seven percent of the tax clients polled said they don’t know if their tax accountant provides legal tax services.

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Tax practice Tax refunds Practice management software Client portals Practice management Tax preparers Tax preparation