Clients are increasingly demanding a more technologically savvy tax professional, especially with regard to digital communications and cybersecurity.
This is according to a survey of more than 3,000 U.S. taxpayers conducted by Intuit. When it comes to how they want to interact with their tax professionals, the survey found that slightly more than half — 52% — would prefer that all of their communications with their accountant be digital. Presumably, this might mean no office visits or phone calls.
This preference towards digital procedures is further evidenced by the fact that 66% of taxpayers expect to sign their returns electronically versus having to come to an office to give a physical signature. In fact, 72% of taxpayers said they save time by doing so. However, it can’t be just any electronic signature: 57% said they’d find it concerning if their digital signature method was not IRS-compliant.
Taxpayers’ preferences regarding documentation also shows an increased preference for digital options. The survey found that 72% said they like having a list of documents they need to submit, and 74% want automated messages from their tax professional on next steps needed.
This emphasis on technology has also entailed an emphasis on cybersecurity. The survey found the vast majority of taxpayers, 86%, expect their tax professional to store their documents and information with industry-standard security measures such as encrypted servers with an enterprise firewall. Meanwhile, 74% expect that when they transfer information it is done securely. This hunger for security is not just for tax time either — 73% said they want a secure place where they can upload documentation throughout the year.
In addition to technology, the survey also found that, in general, people want more strategic advice from their tax advisors and are willing to pay more if it results in a positive outcome. They also strongly favor having audit protection, with seven out of nine taxpayers saying they would favor a firm who offers it versus one who does not.
“At Intuit we strongly believe that to best deliver for tax professionals, it is important to understand what matters utmost to them — and that is their clients,” said Dustin Kroeger, ProTax group vice president of marketing, in a statement. “This study sheds light on what’s important to clients regarding not only the services they receive from their pros, but also how they work with their pros. As we gain these insights, we can work together to drive better financial outcomes for their clients.”