When did it become so difficult to find the answers we need?
If you are like most tax professionals, you spend quite a bit of time conducting tax research. Most simply look at this as an unavoidable reality that everyone in this profession must deal with.
This is especially true when considering how many changes were brought about by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). For those of you who haven’t given up on getting this time back, have you ever thought to yourself – with all this technology, shouldn’t it be easy to find what I’m looking for?
The struggles of using a public search engine
Many professionals rely on Google as their tax research system. Although Google utilizes some of the most sophisticated search capabilities available, it often leads to unverified information found on sites less reputable than a dedicated, tax research solution. This could lead to erroneous conclusions or missed opportunities to benefit the client. When it does lead to reputable sources such as www.irs.gov, you are left with having to translate this information into how it might apply to the situation you are currently facing. For many situations, this is no small task.
The struggles of using an outdated tax research system
The rest of us are using tax research systems, but most of us struggle with finding the answers we need in a timely manner. The good news is, not all tax research systems are created equal. If you would like to determine if you are using the right one, I would recommend asking the following questions:
- Is searching as fast and easy as Google? We can all agree that Google has virtually mastered the art of searching and that should be what we expect while conducting tax research. The secret is the technology behind the search functionality. Natural Language Processing allows Google to understand questions asked in plain English instead of having to know which keywords to type in the search field.
- Is the latest and greatest technology being used? Similar to the use of natural language processing, Google also uses artificial intelligence-powered algorithms to scan countless sources and surface hyper relevant information. Machine Learning is also used to constantly learn and improve based on the search behaviors of and questions asked by its users. Both of these should be leveraged by your tax research system.
- How many steps does it take to find the answer? Ideally, you can link out from your tax software input and forms screens to line-by-line explanations that use real-life examples all without disrupting your tax workflow. For those instances where you are searching instead of linking out from your tax software, think about how many clicks it takes before you can initiate a search, then how many times you have to manually adjust your search, and finally how long it takes to find the answer once you are presented with the results.
What if you were using the right tax research system?
What if you could spend less time on tax research and more time on what’s truly important to your business? If even your junior staff could find their own answers, then your senior staff would be freed up to spend more time on billable activities.
What if your searching experience was as fast and easy as Google? If your system offered intuitive and predictive search capabilities, suggesting expert insights and analysis, then you could get back to your clients with the right guidance in less time.
What if you had more assurance that the answers that you’re providing your clients are accurate? And what if you could provide those answers more quickly than ever before? If your system helped you find accurate answers quickly, you could further strengthen your relationships with clients.
What if your search results included industry leading resources that provided guidance using real-life examples? If you could effortlessly bridge the gap between interpreting the law and navigating real-life client situations, then you could focus on providing optimal guidance and strategic advice to your client.
Luckily, as I mentioned before, not all tax research systems are created equal. It is possible today to use a solution that provides its users with all of these advantages and more. Tax research should not feel like a chore. When your tax research tools leverage the latest technologies and are designed with the user in mind, they make this an effortless process. If you are using the right tax research tools, then they will feel less like a system and more like a tax research solution, helping you get the answers you need quickly, accurately, and efficiently.