We are excited to introduce a new opportunity that involves our use of a third-party data entry service that will enable us to complete your tax returns more efficiently. We have contracted with Xpitax LLC, an industry leader in offshore data entry to handle the time-intensive work our preparers have historically shouldered.
OUTSOURCING DATA ENTRY: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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Why is your firm moving to outsourcing data entry?
We cannot find help. We have lost staff due to a number of different reasons, and our current staff is unable to shoulder the full workload. Taking time-intensive data entry work off their plates will enable them to focus on the thoughtful preparation of your returns as well as have a more reasonable work-life balance. We see this as the only way we are able to continue to assist you.
Why does your firm use a third-party vendor to work on tax returns?
Our firm prepares hundreds of returns and using a third party will allow us to focus on the more complex areas of your return rather than data entry. Many firms, including the Big Four accounting firms, have utilized an outsourced data entry service to improve client service and provide employees with a higher quality of life during busy season for years.
Why can't your firm find staff?
The accounting industry is facing a national pipeline crisis. Firms everywhere are facing the same problems we are. There simply aren’t enough professionals in the business and even fewer students going into the field. Our own university has fewer than 20 students considering following in our footsteps and we’re just one community. We have been looking for six months and have yet to receive a single application.
What other options have you considered or steps have you taken?
We thought about closing the doors, but we didn’t think that was fair to you, our beloved clients.
We have been aggressively recruiting to no avail for months and months.
We’ve researched lots of service bureaus like Xpitax and settled on this one because it’s the best option.
We are no longer accepting any new clients and have already trimmed our client list.
Why don't you hire CPAs who work remotely?
That is an option, but it’s not a good one for several reasons:
They would not be here to meet with you or answer your questions when you call
We don’t know what their living situation or home office is like. Are they using the wifi at the corner coffee shop to transmit your data? Do they have an unscrupulous roommate?
We’re not willing to hire someone to prepare your tax return who will never get to know you or come to care about you. To us, you are a person, not paperwork. It’s hard to build that relationship with someone you never see.
And we certainly won’t be hiring someone whose home office is an unknown. This is an option many firms are utilizing, but we won’t do it because it’s not being a good steward of your data. The funny thing is, the IRS doesn’t require us to ask your permission to outsource to people who live in the US, even though the firms that use them have no idea if they are set up to keep your personal information safe like Xpitax is.
Where is my data going?
Your data is going to a server based in the US that is accessed by overseas professionals for the sole purpose of data entry. The teams overseas use dummy terminals to access the information and enter data in an all-paperless environment. There are no cell phones or recording devices allowed in the office. Additionally, it’s an entirely paperless office, even writing implements are not allowed.
When the data has been entered, we’re notified through a secure delivery system and are able to then prepare, review, and process your return as we normally do.
Who is Xpitax?
Xpitax is a company based in the US that was founded in 2003 by a CPA who wanted to find a way to enhance tax season for CPAs. Xpitax has a hosting facility in the US and uses trained professionals with significant tax data entry experience whose work enables accounting firms like ours to work more efficiently and provide more timely service.
How do you know my information is safe?
Xpitax has built state-of-the-art infrastructure for its outsourcing operations to ensure the highest level of reliability, performance, and security available. Its facility was designed expressly for outsourcing tax and accounting compliance work and therefore has stringent physical and network security measures in place to safeguard sensitive client data. Additionally, Xpitax has designed a fully redundant network infrastructure at a secure Boston area datacenter with off-site backup and recovery capabilities at a similar facility in North Carolina.
Xpitax security protocols are SOC (Service Organization Control) 2 Certified. This certification is issued by outside auditors who consider security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. The SOC2 designation is endorsed by the AICPA, the governing body for CPAs.
Data is fully encrypted the entire time it is transmitted and stored.
The Xpitax servers are located in the United States and data does not leave the country.
Xpitax offshore workstations are dummy terminals with no USB ports, and no ability to store or save data locally.
Cell phones, recording devices, paper, and writing implements are all prohibited in the Xpitax office.
Who will be responsible for my tax return?
Our firm is still responsible for your tax return. We will prepare, meticulously review, and process it just as we always have.
Are the overseas professionals knowledgeable?
Yes. These qualified and skilled professionals with Xpitax are highly trained and meet or exceed the quality of work expected by most CPA firms. They receive additional rigorous training from Xpitax that was developed by a US-based CPA firm covering US tax law and various tax software programs so their work is accurate and efficient.
Is this going to cost me more?
Sadly, due to inflation, everything is costing you more. The accounting industry is not immune to rising costs. The industry is projecting a 30% increase in tax preparation invoices for the 2021 tax year. We are moving to Xpitax in an effort to keep our rate increases below that number for our clients.
How does the process work?
If you agree to allow us to outsource your data entry, you’ll provide us with your tax organizer and other applicable information when you receive it. We will scan your documents and upload the file to the Xpitax server in the US. From there, the data entry staff will access it, enter it, and we’ll be notified when it’s ready for us to begin preparation. This is usually done within a few days, so our turnaround time on your tax returns should be faster.
You will continue to do things as you always have: gathering all your tax documents and getting them to us as soon as you can once you have them all, be available to answer questions, and review and sign your return when it’s done. The only thing that we hope will be different is that you receive your return sooner thanks to the extra hands at Xpitax.
Who is requiring my approval to use Xpitax?
We are. We want to be transparent with you. The IRS also requires we obtain your permission if we utilize someone located outside of the United States to aid us in working on your tax returns. In following with other IRS wisdom, your permission is not required if we were hiring a CPA working remotely whose home office has likely not been designed to protect your data.
What are the benefits of using Xpitax to me as a client?
We anticipate our clients will receive many benefits thanks to our partnership with Xpitax:
We will continue to be able to help as many of you as possible.
Outsourcing expensive data entry will likely help us stay below the anticipated 30% increase in tax preparation costs for Tax Year 2021.
Our professional CPAs will be able to focus on the more complex areas of your return rather than data entry.
Our turnaround time for your tax returns will likely be faster.
You will give our dedicated staff a much-needed adjustment in their work-life balance. We accountants like balance and it’s something we’ve lived without for far too long.
What if I don't want you to use Xpitax for my data entry?
Participation is 100% voluntary, so please indicate that on the consent letter and get it back to us by December 13. Participation will allow us to forecast our workload capabilities for the 2021 tax year.
If we do not receive your signed consent form in our office by December 13 with your preferences indicated, we will assume you do not need us to prepare your returns any longer and will be happy to assist you in any way we can as you transition to a new preparer. Please be advised that the later you request any data from us, the longer it may take us to get it to you.
I'm happy to use Xpitax, what do you need from me?
We’re delighted to hear it and thank you for your participation! Please indicate that on the letter we mailed you in this packet and get it back to us by December 13. You can mail it back to us in the pre-paid envelope included, or you can scan it and upload it to the client portal.
We will send you an organizer just like we normally do sometime in January 2022 so you can begin getting us your documents. As ever, the sooner you can get us things, the better.