IRS ‘a little ahead of last year’ on getting ready for tax season

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The Internal Revenue Service is more than delivering on its commitments to producing forms and helping tax software developers prepare for next tax season, according to Intuit vice president of product management Jorge Olavarrieta.

“From a percentage perspective, we’re a little ahead of last year in terms of forms that have come in,” Olavarrieta said in an interview after a session unveiling the new features in the company’s ProConnect Tax Online product at this week’s QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose, Calif. “They’re different forms from year to year, obviously, but we’re feeling pretty good about it, and the IRS is doing a good job.”

“Whenever you have a major legislative change like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS comes out with a plan — ‘This is when we’re going to deliver these forms’ — and it’s been encouraging: The IRS has been pretty diligent and is following through on their commitments in terms of providing what we need. They’re turning them out and turning them around pretty quickly. What we see looks OK — it’s not going to be a compressed, two-week tax season.”

Changes related to the TJCA are a major part of the updates announced for Intuit’s cloud-based tax prep product, including new tax calculations; 1040 enhancements reflecting the new postcard-sized return and six extra schedules; and a Tax Reform Impact Summary worksheet to help tax pros explain the impact of the act to clients. There are also improvements to ProConnect Tax Online’s tax planner to help clients compare tax implications across multiple year and scenarios.

Intuit has also recently updated its Tax Reform Resource Center for tax reform news and tools, like the Qualified Business Income and Entity Selection Calculator, and in-depth tax reform webinars, as it continues to prepare for the upcoming season.

“We’re highlighting new additions to our resources – we picked up something today on meal deductions,” said Jim Buffington, a CPA and customer liaison for association and government relations in Intuit’s ProTax Group. He noted that the TCJA has generated a lot of questions from users, on everything from new rules for depreciation and qualified business income to transition taxes. “We’re seeing more education and engagement with our content by a factor of four — and we expect that to continue in the future. We expect this level of learning to go on for several years.”

“We’re encouraging accountants to communicate with clients early and often” about tax issues for the 2019 filing season, according to Olavarrieta, and to use both the TCJA and the improvements to ProConnect Tax Online to take their practices to the next level.

“The product is really evolving — we really feel we’re getting close to automating tax,” said Intuit ProConnect Group product manager Brady Suggs. “We’ve made improvements in almost every area of our process, and we’ve made tremendous progress on the product — hopefully, automating tax gives them the time and frees them up to have those conversations.”

“Our goal in automating tax is to free accountants up to focus more on advisory services,” added Olavarrieta. “And tax reform in particular lends itself to having these kinds of advisory conversations. It’s one of those years where you can engage with business customers on entity type. For instance, they’re getting a little bit more of that conversation going on again. As you dig deeper into the legislation, you realize ‘Oh, here’s an opportunity.’”

Besides TCJA-related enhancements, Intuit also announced that Document Management with Intuit Link is now embedded inside the client list in ProConnect Tax Online; trial balance features with QuickBooks Online Accountant have been enhanced; interface improvements should make tax prep faster; and 57 new e-file capabilities for returns, extensions, estimates and amended returns have been added.

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