Three keys to a productive tax time

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Three keys to a productive tax time
A paperless work environment is a key way to improve collaboration, efficiency, and save on costs.
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

Tax season can be one of the most stressful times of the year if you don’t have the right tools and processes in place.

Small-to-medium business (SMB) owners particularly feel the burn, adding tax affairs to their jack of all trades remit in the absence of a dedicated accounting team.

To mitigate stress and avoid burn out, SMBs need prepare their workflow to increase business efficiency and induce a positive tax time outlook that refocuses their energy on the delight of receiving payments in a quicker manner. One way to do this is through digitisation.

In today’s post-pandemic world, digitisation has become the new normal. It’s evident, now more than ever, that SMB owners must take the lead to keep up with evolving times and embrace the offloading of tasks to digital workflows for productivity optimisation this financial year. Here are three ways SMBs can be more productive during tax time.

1. Transition to digital documents

A paperless work environment is a key way to improve collaboration, efficiency, and save on costs. Throughout the pandemic, many SMBs started to embrace digital documents to meet the rising expectations of consumers and maintain business continuity. Research from Forrester reveals that almost half (42%) of ANZ businesses are either planning to implement or expand on their digital document process solutions in 2021.

Digital documents not only free up admin costs and time, but also provide the liberty to share, review, and store documents virtually in real-time. Using a free tool like Adobe Scan, an easy-to use mobile app, SMBs can easily snap a picture of each paper invoice, receipt, or document and create a digital file. These documents can also be easily filed away, saved as a PDF and can be quickly searched and accessed when needed.

Security is further optimised when compared to paper records. Spilling coffee, losing a page, or attracting the wrong wondering eye is no longer a worry, so long as your digital hygiene is in order. By digitising documents, important files can be backed up, password-protected, encrypted or editing restricted to safeguard personal data.

2. Use of e-signatures

The use of e-signatures has grown rapidly, with research showing over three quarters are signing more documents electronically in the second half of 2020 than in the past two years. More so, almost half (48%) of Australians have signed documents electronically in the last two years.

Business leaders are recognising its time-saving value; minimising error, and turnaround time to get your arrangements processed quicker. Printing and sifting through a stack of documents is an archaic model, and the easy adjustment to electronic signage will empower extra hours to dedicate to other business priorities.

E-signatures are also crucial in improving the customer experience for you and all parties involved. Once you e-sign, you can directly send documents to your tax preparer, or the government with a click. In fact, this service will be expected with three quarters (73%) believing businesses that do not offer e-signature options are behind the times.

Leverage free software tools

During this time, it is easy to feel knee-deep in compliance and filing, but know there are accessible tools out there that serve to manage and automate your administration tasks, so you don’t have to. Free online productivity tools include:

  • Adobe Acrobat – offers an array of free tools to simplify workflow and organise a digital filing system to your preference. These tools can help split, combine, compress and convert to PDF. There are also tools that can help with protecting, signing and sharing PDFs.
  • Xero – offers accounting software to automate the process of compiling and submitting
    business activity statements (BAS).

  • Microsoft Teams – can be used to manage workflows and approvals, for example, you can request teams or individual employees to e-sign a document with automated timelines.

In the age of digital transformation, every SMB owner should embrace opportunities to digitise their workflows and optimise productivity. Processes and tools are readily available to make tax time a seamless moment in the business calendar.

Chandra Sinnathamby, Head of Adobe Document Cloud, Asia-Pacific.

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