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Taxpayers Love Their Accountant, but Want More From Them

September 11th, 2020

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Clients love their tax accountant, though half wonder if they’re doing enough to cut their tax bill.

Those seemingly contradictory opinions come from a survey by practice management software provider Canopy.

85% of the taxpayer respondents say they would recommend their accountant, despite 53% not being confident they're getting enough help minimizing their taxes.

What the survey takers most appreciate is the in-person communication with their accountant. In fact, they appreciate these meetings so much they also list them as the No.1 thing they would change in their relationship. Both business owners and individual taxpayers want more in-person meetings.

Since the survey was conducted before the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed, we don’t know if taxpayers still consider in-person meetings so important or if Zoom meetings and phone calls have become an adequate substitute. However, all types of technology were clearly important before the pandemic.

After meetings, taxpayers said what they most liked next about working with their tax accountant was being able to send and receive documents online. That could be as simple as using email or a file hosting service like Google docs or Dropbox. In reporting on the survey. AccountingToday notes that “the most common ways clients exchange documents with their accountant are during in-person meetings, through hard printouts and via email.”

Before the shutdown, taxpayers were already noticing technology shortcomings. After in-person meetings, improved technology was second among the three top things they would change in working with their accountant.

Besides a secure way of exchanging documents, the technology features clients most want from their accountant are text chat and appointment scheduling. Women, according to the survey, want a chat feature even more than do men.

Chat would help get timelier responses, which is the third more important improvement they would make in their accounting relationship. A chatbot could help with routine questions, but the survey respondents felt getting a faster response directly from their accountant was most important to them.

One especially troubling finding is how little clients know about post-filing services like audit protection and legal tax services. A third of all clients don’t know if their accountant provides audit protection. Business owners are even less likely to know.

Image by Steve Buissinne

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