[IMGCAP(1)]With the 2010 e-file mandate just around the corner, I am amazed at the number of CPAs who will be filing electronically for the first time. I know of a few firms in my area who admit to never having e-filed—and probably still wouldn’t if not mandatory. Unfortunately, this year will be a tough one for these firms. Even though the process for e-filing itself is fairly simple, the change in routine is the tough part. And don’t we as a collective group hate change?
What really amazes me though, is the overall lack of participation in e-filing. A good portion of the industry as a whole still does not e-file. You would think that the e-file process was just introduced last year, when it’s actually been around for at least a decade. And yet there are still firms that have never done it. I ask respectfully: what’s up with that?
The lack of enthusiasm around e-filing is just one indication of the profession’s unwillingness to embrace technology. But I think it’s more than unwillingness; it seems to be more of a knock-down-drag-out fight. Many accounting professionals fight it tooth and nail—standing by the notion that they’ve always gotten along fine without it and will continue to do so. Of course, with e-filing mandatory this tax season, these firms will have to jump in head first. And, though they may hate it at first, my prediction is that they will find the convenience and ease of use to be refreshing.
I myself am in the process of transitioning a legacy firm. My partner had a few clients that e-filed, but it was less then 20 percent. With the new law in place, we proactively moved our clients to e-file last year. My partner was concerned that his clients would be resistant and he didn’t want to force them. But guess what? The “resistance” was comprised of less than a handful of clients, while the rest of the group was delighted. Imagine that.
Going into the current tax season, we feel good from an e-file standpoint. The majority of our clients will accept the mandate for e-filing. However, we still expect a few to be resistant…like my partner’s client of 35 years who is insisting to “paper” file. My stance? Clients must follow our process, or they should find another firm. My partner thinks I’m being harsh, but I ultimately have the client’s best interest in mind. E-filing is fast, convenient, secure and doesn’t require wasting paper. Not to mention, as the trusted advisor to our clients, it’s our responsibility to lead them down the right path. E-filing is the right path. Lead your clients and they will follow. Those that don’t probably don’t represent the client you want on board anyway. Trust me on this one.
Update: Jody responds to the comments here.
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.