In recent years, the tax preparation industry has undergone a shift from the traditional paper 1040 organizer toward digital solutions. Proactive firms see an opportunity to appeal to modern clients who are increasingly tied to their mobile devices and unwilling to work with paper. Digital tax workpapers also promise greater ease and efficiency for tax professionals. Unfortunately, early digital alternatives like online organizers and generic portals saw low adoption rates because they were cumbersome for taxpayers, who still had to print, sign, scan, and upload their documents. In 2016, SurePrep released an alternative to both paper organizers and online portals: TaxCaddy, the industry’s first 1040 client collaboration platform.
We branded this new solution a “client collaboration platform” to distinguish it from online portals, which were little more than digital drop boxes. Since its release, TaxCaddy has quickly become the gold standard. Its extensive features and user-friendly mobile options streamline the 1040 tax return process for both taxpayers and tax professionals.
Other technology solutions have tried to reduce the tax preparer to a calculator. Your clients can get a calculator from anywhere. This is all about the client experience.
L. Gary Boomer, Guide to Simplifying Tax Time by L. Gary Boomer, CPA, CITP and Jim Boomer, CPA, CITP
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Earlier this year, Wolters Kluwer released their own take on this concept: CCH Axcess Client Collaboration. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how this option compares to TaxCaddy. Which platform makes tax season easier?
Give Your Clients Mobile Convenience with the TaxCaddy App for iPhone/Android
In a world where people can make bank deposits, order food, check their heart rate, and lock their car from their smartphone, taxpayers expect the same handheld convenience during tax season. It will come as a disappointment to many that the new CCH Axcess Client Collaboration platform can only be accessed via web browser. In addition to a web browser interface, TaxCaddy offers native mobile phone and tablet apps for taxpayers and a companion app for tax professionals.
The TaxCaddy app is free and available for download on both Android and iOS devices. It serves as a centralized hub where clients can collaborate with their tax professional from the palm of their hand. Users can upload tax documents, fill out their questionnaires, message their tax professionals, pay their invoices, make their tax payments, and more—at home or on the go.
The TaxCaddy app includes a photo-scan feature that utilizes the smartphone’s camera to snap clear, cropped images of tax documents, which taxpayers can upload as PDFs with a single tap. So when your client receives a 1099 in the mail, they can pull out their phone, photo-scan the document, securely upload it, and move on with their day. It’s incredibly convenient for them and a boon for you since clients send you documents the moment they’re received. Plus, smart technology ensures that these photo-scanned tax document PDFs are optimized for scan and populate solutions like 1040SCAN.
CCH Axcess Client Collaboration offers no mobile apps. This means tax documents need to be scanned on an external device—a laborious chore that might require a commute to a local office or library for clients who don’t have a desktop scanner at home. More tech-savvy clients might attempt to use a third-party scanning app, but these are likely not configured with the appropriate encryption to process sensitive documents, and the files must still be securely transferred to desktop.
According to Pew Research, 81% of Americans currently own smartphones. Among people ages 18–29, that number is 96%—a clear trendline. Love it or hate it, 24/7 connectedness is now part of daily life for most taxpayers. Notifications direct attention and set priorities. TaxCaddy offers optional push notifications so that your clients are instantly alerted when you send them a message or need them to sign a new document. CCH Axcess Client Collaboration users will only connect when they take time out of their daily lives to log into the desktop application, which removes all sense of urgency and creates the same delays firms expect from online portals or paper organizers. If your product is not where users “live,” you will never be top of mind.
“When you work morning to night, no one wants to come home and be stuck doing taxes all night,” Kevin said. “TaxCaddy shortened the process tenfold.”
— Kevin Frank, TaxCaddy user and CPA firm client.
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It’s not only taxpayers who enjoy this mobile convenience. SurePrep offers an app for tax professionals, which connects you to your TaxCaddy clients. You can now collaborate with your 1040 clients through TaxCaddy’s secure messaging center, request and review tax documents, and check client progress on the go.
Since TaxCaddy’s 2016 release, we’ve listened carefully to user feedback and continued to refine the product. Every tax season, we’ve added new features to enhance the 1040 client collaboration experience. Along the way, TaxCaddy received a 2017 K2 Quality Award for Best Overall Mobile Strategy and was a CPA Advisor Technology Innovation Award finalist in back-to-back years. As of January 2021, our mobile app is on release 4.8 and enjoys a 4.7 star rating in both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Our enhancements include the introduction of Smart Links—an optional feature that automatically retrieves tax documents from your client’s financial institutions the day they become available and removes them from the client’s document request list. (While CCH Axcess Client Collaboration can retrieve documents, they must still be manually categorized, which defeats the point of automation.) We’ve also expanded our RESTful API, which allows your firm to integrate TaxCaddy data with your workflow software, time and billing system, or other third party solutions. CCH Axcess Client Collaboration does not offer an API.
TaxCaddy allows users to e-sign any document and includes built-in KBA to render IRS-approved signatures on Form 8879. CCH Axcess Client Collaboration only offers e-signatures for engagement letters and Form 8879. For the 8879, the user is taken to a third-party site then back to the client collaboration hub which is a slightly disjointed user experience. TaxCaddy users can review and approve any document with a single tap, and fill out any required information right on screen. CCH Axcess Client Collaboration does not support fillable PDFs, which means clients must print, fill out, scan, and upload these documents manually.
Customizability is also an area where TaxCaddy shines. While firms can add their logo to CCH Axcess Client Collaboration, taxpayers still see the CCH color palette when they log in—not the firm’s. In TaxCaddy, the user interface is fully customizable to align with your firm’s brand and foster trust. Clients see your firm logo and colors in the browser and mobile apps.
The TaxCaddy experience is refined, user-friendly, and supported with native mobile phone and tablet apps. In “digital years”, TaxCaddy is generations ahead of the competition. CCH Axcess Client Collaboration’s web browser-only option will leave taxpayers wanting the same mobile conveniences we’ve all come to expect these days.
With each passing tax season, paper organizers and generic portals become increasingly outdated. TaxCaddy pioneered tax return automation technology for 1040 client collaboration, and the benefits continue to grow due to substantial development, research, and client feedback. At SurePrep, we’re laser-focused on 1040 tax technology. It’s the only thing we do. Our solutions are not ancillary products in a much larger suite of tax and accounting applications. We won’t just maintain our 4+ year lead on the competition, we’ll extend it. We will keep a close eye on the market and continue to provide trusted insights on new products, but as we move into tax year 2020, TaxCaddy’s maturity and mobile apps make it the best option for you and your clients.
TaxCaddy vs CCH Axcess Client Collaboration Competitive AnalysisView Recording