The Tax Software Revolution
The most common service that accountants and CPAs provide to the public at large is tax preparation. That tradition has had a large hole blown in it by the arrival of software packages that allow individuals to prepare their own tax returns with an on-screen guide walking them through the process. The states and the federal government have cooperated by making online filing available and, furthermore, an attractive option because it will get you your tax refund quicker than a traditional paper filing.
Millions of Americans have opted for this method, and for many of them it’s a good choice. Large numbers of them did not use accounting services in the first place, as they had simple tax returns. However there is also a large class of people who are utilizing the yearly software option when perhaps they would do better with professional service. A good accountant can find tax breaks or prepare itemized lists that help your tax situation where you may not see the opportunity or may not be willing to dedicate the time to itemizing.
Why Professionals are Better than Software
The individuals that are caught between the “simple return” pool and the group of people who have to use professional help every year because of complicated personal financial situations are the group that accountants and CPAs need to recapture. The best way to convince someone that paying for professional services will save them money in the long run is to spell it out for them, and the best tool for that is the internet.
Large firms like H&R Block have expanded beyond the tax return business into financial planning. Many accounting firms or even CPAs working on their own are in a position to provide at least some financial counseling that extends beyond annual tax returns. An internet site is a compelling tool for explaining the goals and advantages of long term financial planning. It’s a method of explaining the multiple advantages of working with an accounting professional rather than a $40 software package.
Full Service Business Explained on a Full Service Website
An accountant’s website can speak also to the value of a one-to-one relationship as opposed to the services of a large firm such as H&R Block. Creative packaging is a tool used by many small accounting firms. Use their tax preparation services and receive an outline for an initial five year financial plan, gratis. It’s a method of leveraging the tax return process in order to introduce other potential services.
An internet site can also offer valuable advice to the increasing number of people who are working at home or on a contract basis for large employers. Many who take this professional path do not understand the different requirements for federal tax payments that are involved. A friendly – and partial – explanation on a CPA’s professional website will serve as an invitation to call and arrange a visit.
The usual collections of FAQs and recommendations, suggested links and biographical information can serve to introduce an accountant and develop a sense of professionalism before the customer and the service provider have their first conversation. An internet site is a better advertising tool and introductory method than direct mail, a yellow pages ad, even radio or TV… better than anything but a personal recommendation.