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Tax Organizers


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What's everyone using for tax organizers? Tax software organizer? Or something custom built?

We have been internally designing a personalized organizer that looks and feels more like a "checklist" than the stale, old tax organizers produced by the tax software companies.

We are at a crossroad in our design and we would enjoy collaborating with those who've custom built their own tax organizers. Please reply if this would be you!! 

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Best answer by jamieokane 4 November 2021, 16:44

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Would love to hear more from the Community on what people are using and/or adopting. From what we see, it runs a wide spectrum from the old school organizers to using simple Client Task requests. We have seen people use Google Forms or Typeform to create scripted environments. You can place the hyperlink in a client task and even embed (if savvy) into the client tasks as well. Remember, the more you ask upfront (and the more difficult the information you ask for), the more reluctant the client will make time to respond. Break up the requests perhaps into multiple requests (demographic, firmographic, tax specific, etc.). Second, it is easier to validate data than to create from scratch. Present what you know to the client and ask them to confirm or update. You will get a better and faster response.

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The tax software default tax organizers are outdated and stale. They end up being intimating to the client user, so they are ignored. Karbons Client Task feature (aka Client Requests) has a great opportunity to disrupt paper organizers and make the chase for this tax information a win-win for client and tax pro.

However, as it is now, the maintenance of this request list from year to year is problematic. Currently work templates have 2 repeating options: (1) Repeat from template globally or (2) Repeat from previous work in the sequence.

We generally improve our workflow every year, which requires a change to the global work template. So we prefer to repeat work from the template.

However we edit the Client Task section by removing items no longer applicable for next year, and adding new information needed for next year. This makes it important to be able to repeat from previous work in the sequence.

We need the flexibility for each Section of the Work to be flexible to EITHER repeat from template or previous work. This would give Karbon a huge lift in revolutionizing the tax organizer experience for Karbon firms!

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We are just looking to change this for the coming tax year.  How do you handle the client task notifications going to the assignee of the work?

 

We want to see notifications so we know when questions arise or clients are having difficulty.  However, the sheer number of client tasks will create enough notifications to inundate staff.

 

Please share how you have overcome this!

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We use Cognito forms to handle the Q&A and information gathering. The links are sent via Client Task along with a tasks to upload documents (generic list).

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We also send a link to a client questionnaire in the client task.  We also send them a personalized list of documents they sent in the previous year and that they upload those again.  We have an additional item requesting any new documents received for the new year so we can update their list.

Our Template has a client task that sends automatically at the end of January.  It contains our engagement letter link, client questionnaire link and their personalized list of documents.  Once they have checked off all their boxes, the work item automatically moves to Prep.  This worked great last year.

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DianeK - Hi Diane, I am very interested in your process, I am trying to make our templates/procedures more streamline & get away from so much paper. Do you mind if I message you to get more info?

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Hi Cindy,  Please feel free to contact me anytime.  I would love to share our process with you.

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We are currently revamping this process too!  Right now we are using a fillable PDF file we update every year for the applicable tax items we need and information from clients.  We have a generic checklist at the end too, more form names, then who they are specifically from for each client.  

But we are considering looking into Cognito Forms or a new one I caught wind of from TaxTwitter called Content Snare - but the issue we always come back to is - what does the backend product look like so we can easily read and grab the information we need, and knowing that client data will reside in yet another place…  Which is why we always come back to our own created fillable PDF.  

Would love to hear more thoughts and how others are tacking this!!

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I just used Cognito forms for the first time because of this thread. So far I’ve only used it for basic client information sent with onboarding client tasks. I would love to used it for other forms we need I just haven’t tackled those yet! It was very user friendly to me. 

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We also send a link to a client questionnaire in the client task.  We also send them a personalized list of documents they sent in the previous year and that they upload those again.  We have an additional item requesting any new documents received for the new year so we can update their list.

Our Template has a client task that sends automatically at the end of January.  It contains our engagement letter link, client questionnaire link and their personalized list of documents.  Once they have checked off all their boxes, the work item automatically moves to Prep.  This worked great last year.

Diane,

 

I am curious how you handle the notifications for these client tasks.  Is the work assigned to an admin, tax preparer or alias in Karbon during this time?  I don’t want staff inundated with these notifications every time someone uploads something!  Can we chat for a few minutes about your process?

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We also send a link to a client questionnaire in the client task.  We also send them a personalized list of documents they sent in the previous year and that they upload those again.  We have an additional item requesting any new documents received for the new year so we can update their list.

Our Template has a client task that sends automatically at the end of January.  It contains our engagement letter link, client questionnaire link and their personalized list of documents.  Once they have checked off all their boxes, the work item automatically moves to Prep.  This worked great last year.

@DianeK I love to hear this worked great for you. How do you revise the "personalized list of documents" from year to year? For example what if client changes jobs (therefore W2 request changes for the following year) or what if client adds a rental property (how do you assure your personalized request list for the following tax workflow includes new requests for rental property)?

I feel Karbon development, with automated request lists reminders, is a huuuuuge step in the right direction (over the outdated and stale tax organizer requests from tax softwares). We just keep stumbling over the efficient on-going maintenance of the request lists in Karbon.

I'd love to hear more about your maintenance of the request lists from year to year 

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Once the work has been completed, the last step in our process is to update the client task for the following year.  We remove any documents no longer being sent (closed bank accounts, Retirement accounts etc),and we add any new documents to the list for new items.  This can include new investment accounts, new rentals, a new business ect.  You can also catch things like kids going to college and ask about that or maybe you know they will be selling or purchasing a house.  You can ask about those documents.  Once the list has been updated, it will roll into the next year if the work item is set to repeat.

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Ryann,  The client task notifications come to me.  I am in charge of moving all documents for tax preparation into our storage system.  Once all documents have been received, the work items moves to the Tax Associate for preparation.

I usually just work out of my triage.  I download the document to our storage binder and mark it with a thumbs-up to show it was received and moved.  Then I just clear it from triage.

We are just looking to change this for the coming tax year.  How do you handle the client task notifications going to the assignee of the work?

 

We want to see notifications so we know when questions arise or clients are having difficulty.  However, the sheer number of client tasks will create enough notifications to inundate staff.

 

Please share how you have overcome this!

Ryann,

We experimented with this last year - we had our junior preparer responsible for clients using client tasks until they were completed. It did cause him some issues with the volume of notifications. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to limit these notifications. However, we have come up with a new plan we are going to implement this year:

  1. We are creating a work item just for the initial intake of tax return information which will have the client tasks.
  2. An admin team member will be assigned these work items, and will be getting all of the notifications. They will just briefly skim notifications for any questions from client, but will generally disregard upload and completion notifications and just clear them from triage.
  3. We’re setting an automator to change the status of the work when the client has completed all tasks, which will be how the admin knows when the information is ready for review.
  4. Final step is admin team will download and compile all information and documents to the client’s file, then initiate the tax preparation work item.

We are hopeful this eliminates some of the stress on the tax prep team. We also are designing a Cognito forms questionnaire to link into the client tasks this year. Last year we used a fillable PDF attachment and it proved problematic for some clients in getting it saved, filled out and properly uploaded back into the client tasks.

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The template for our work has the work being assigned to me (Admin) when the client task sends automatically in late January.  The notifications come to my triage where I download the documents to our storage file for each client.  I add a thumbs up next to each document that has been moved and clear it from my triage.  Once the client has checked off all their tasks, the work moves to Intake (still me) where I check the list to make sure all documents have been downloaded and moved.  I also check that each task has been completed and not just checked off.  If any thing is missing, I chase the client for these items before I move it on for tax preparation.  The tax professional creates the return and then moves it on for review.  Once reviewed, the work comes back to me for delivery.

The beginning of our work item is assigned to an Admin and the end of the work item is also assigned to an admin.  We take care of getting all the documents, making sure they are in the file system, delivering the return for review and signature (also a client task) and then resetting the work for the following year.  This may involve adding document requests to the client list or removing/updating document requests.  It is all based off of what was sent for the current year.

We use Cognito forms to handle the Q&A and information gathering. The links are sent via Client Task along with a tasks to upload documents (generic list).

@jamieokane But how do you get the information from the form back into Karbon? It looks like the only way is to login into Cognito Account and then download form as an Excel file and separately save any uploaded docs in a zip folder. Is that the process?

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Our Cognito forms automatically come back to us in an email.  We get a notification email with the completed form attached.  We download the form and move it to the storage binder and then tag the email to the work item.  This automatically adds the completed form to the details tab of the work item.

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We use Cognito forms to handle the Q&A and information gathering. The links are sent via Client Task along with a tasks to upload documents (generic list).

@jamieokane But how do you get the information from the form back into Karbon? It looks like the only way is to login into Cognito Account and then download form as an Excel file and separately save any uploaded docs in a zip folder. Is that the process?

Once submitted Cognito forms sends us an email to let us know. We attach that email to the timeline of the work and then we go to Cognito Forms and retrieve it in pdf format when processing the initial round of documents. All documents are downloaded out of Karbon and saved to Sharefile.

We use a Typeform link in a Client Task to collect the information.  The form also allows for clients to upload documents.

We only ask for information we wouldn’t normally have.  For example, we prepare payrolls for 99% of our clients, so don’t ask for payroll info on the form.  The 1% get an extra client task!

The form is connected via Zapier to a Google Doc.  A new Doc gets created for each completed form.  Our Admin moves these forms to the client folders manually and adds a link on the work item back to the folder, so everything is in one place for the Tax Preparer to do their thing

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Does anyone use the client tasks in place of an organizer?  Our current system (Link in ITO) has an engagement letter, questions, and document requests.  If using client tasks - to you have three client sections and have the client complete one before getting the next step or do you have this as one client section?

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@Ken Rogers I put all of those items as one client task & yes in place of organizers. I changed my letter to include other items that were in our cover letter from Ultra Tax. All “organizers” go out on Jan 15th for us. Also we use Cognito forms for Engagement letter & Questionnaire.

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