CCH has acquired Melbourne software developer Best Practice Solutions (BPS) and its ATO Paper Buster and ASIC Paper Buster apps which were sold to accounting firms.
The Paper Buster apps automatically filed scanned notices from the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in practice management suites and sent notifications to clients, saving four minutes per document.
Accounting firms, which received thousands of notices from the ATO and ASIC, could save 1,000 hours a year, CCH claimed.
Tax work involved a lot of communications between the ATO and clients which had to be handled manually, reducing the profitability of each job, Russell Evans, CEO of CCH Australia, told BoxFreeIT.
“Until accountants can automate those processes to administer and manage communications their efficiency is very reduced,” Evans said.
CCH bought BPS because it wanted to help accounting firms complete their compliance work faster, either to maintain profitability or to take on more interesting and lucrative advisory work, Evans said.
““A lot of firms are being encouraged to sign up to fixed price engagements for tax work. In the past they may have charged $4,000 for tax compliance, but a lot of them are having to sign off for much lower fixed cost. now they have fewer hours to do the work to retain profitability,” Evans said.
“Accountants need to have far better control of their processes to do their tax work in a reasonably reduced number of hours.”
A recent CCH survey found a large majority of accountants wanted to do more advisory work. “But many accountants struggle to free up time to do the advisory work because tax compliance is pretty cumbersome,” Evans said.
When office staff scanned in mail from the ATO the Paper Buster app identified the client by the tax file number of Australian Business Number and filed it in the practice management program. The app then notified the client by email to view the document in a secure online portal, or alerted office staff that the document had to be sent by post.
“Getting the mail from the ATO, scanning and filing it and sending emails – that could take 30 to 40 minutes. This reduces it to less than 10 minutes and it automates the communications,” Evans said. The app created an audit trail that recorded the date the notice was posted, when it was scanned and when the email was sent.
One in eight accounting firms in Australia and New Zealand used CCH’s Web Manager program to share documents with clients through a secure online portal. The Paper Buster apps had already been integrated with the portal software and CCH iFirm, a cloud-based practice management suite.
BPS director Ron Drost estimated that the ATO would take at least 18 months to move to electronic distribution of documents. Under this scenario accountants could download notices of assessment and other documents in batches from the ATO portal and the Paper Buster app could automatically file them without scanning, Drost said.
The ASIC Paper Buster app already filed PDF documents downloaded from ASIC, which had delivered documents electronically for the past 10 years.
“Whether these Notices of Assessment come via snail mail or electronically, it doesn’t change what Paper Buster does. Accountants still have to check and file each document,” Drost said in an email.
Image credit: CCH