How to Make tax Season Less Taxing in the Digital Age
With the digital age upon us, we can be grateful for the many ways it has made our lives easier—particularly during one of the most stressful times of the year—tax season.
With more and more industries going digital, the tax industry is no exception. For the 2015 tax year,Efile.com found that over 51 million tax payers prepared and electronically submitted their tax returns from the comfort of their home. This is a significant increase from the year prior, where according to data released from the Internal Revenue Services (2014), only 25.9 million people filed taxes from home. Unfortunately for accountants everywhere, this also meant a natural decrease in tax returns filed by professionals by 2.2%. Similar results were also found over the border, as Canadian Revenue Agency’s most recent data found that 53% of Canadians filed taxes via EFile for the 2014 tax year. With both American and Canadian tax filing data in mind, it’s safe to say the online tax filing “trend” is here to stay—and it is easy to see why!
We all know more and more people now prefer to shop from home online (51% in fact!), so why not do the same with your taxes? Benefits aside, perhaps the most difficult decision you’ll have to make is figuring out which tax filing software is the best fit for you, with admittedly almost too many options to choose from.
So you want to join the EFilebandwagon and make a safe attempt at being your own accountant? All you need is a computer, an internet connection and in some cases, a credit card. Depending on the program, tax preparation software fees can start as low as $0 to $150 depending on your tax filing needsie. homeowner, student, business owner. Here we’ll mention the two most popular tax preparation software:
- TurboTax: If you haven’t seen or heard of them through their strong digital presence, commercials or through word of mouth—you likely live under a rock. As the #1 selling tax software program in Canada and the US, it’s hard to miss. With online as well as downloadable and CD versions of TurboTax, you can do your taxes from your computer or tablet/smartphone while on the go, with live chat help and audit advice if you find yourself unlucky.
- H&R Block: While you may be familiar with their brick and mortar branches, you may be surprised to learnH&R Block also provideselectronic filing similar to TurboTax where you can download their software or you can file on their website. Added bonuses? They guarantee you will receive the maximum refund and you can even take a picture of tax forms with your smartphone to input your financial information or import from other sources.
Despite countless other options, what makes these two frontrunners stand out? Their digital presence! Both TurboTax and H&R Block have built their online presence through digital marketing on social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Youtube as well, to date, both show up first in a Google search of “best tax software 2017”.With humorous and relatable tweets from TurboTax encouraging followers to stay home to avoid the #StellaBlizzard and file from your couch to H&R Block’s YouTube video and campaign for “This is your wakeup call! It’s not tax season, its #PaybackSeason,”consumers can’t help but “lol” and feel a little bit more at ease with tax season looming.
Digital Marketing for your tax Practice
If you are still questioning the need or effectiveness of providing and promoting your services online, look no further than the example set by the IRS themselves! The IRS has effectively utilized the digital sphere to provide assistance and customer service to the public. In addition to phone assistance and face to face services, they are highly present on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. If that wasn’t enough already, they also have a mobile phone application called “IRS2GO” as well as online tools on their website such as “Interactive Tax Assistant” and “Where’s my Refund”.
With the IRS’s declining budget, more online options are a cost-effective way to allow the user to be more self-sufficient and have service quite literally at their fingertips 24/7. This online model seems to be working, as“IRS2Go”has had almost 9.2 million downloadssince its inception. This is in addition to thousands of views on their YouTube channel, not to mention their 82.5k Twitter followers to date.
Benefits of Digital Marketing
With all of the benefits of digital marketing, why not take advantage? After all, a whopping 72% of consumers are connected to brands online through their computers and smart phones. While tax software and even the IRS are beginning to dominate online, most tax offices and professionals have yet to do so—yet should!
As noted in the IRS’s case above, digital marketing first and foremost saves money. Gartner’s Digital Marketing Spend Reportnoted that 41% of business owners saved a considerable amount of money from digital marketing. Digital marketing also creates a 24% higher conversion rate when companies use multiple channels, allowingthem to more easily reach their target audience.
If those statistics alone aren’t enough to convince you— there’s more! When multiple channels are in use for digital marketing, it also allows for a deeper understanding of and more meaningful conversations with consumers. This allows companies to stay in constant contact with their customers, even when they have left the tax office. In turn, this puts customer service at the forefront (as it very well should be!), allowing consumers to get answers in real time. This can make or break your business’s success in a market where eMarketer reports consumers expect instant interaction through digital channels. With more and more consumers online and turning to online software to file their taxes, this should be even more motivation to roll with the times and take advantage of all that the digital world has to offer you and your business while also putting your customers first— a total win win! Happy tax Season Everyone!