That being said, I need to know more before committing. Who are these professionals? How much will it cost me? Am I guaranteed the max allowable refund? I applaud you for bringing simplicity to a field as complicated as taxes, but the devil is still in the details.
Overall looks great though! Let me know if I can help test at all, emails in my profile.
Yes most of the last few months I have spent on is getting tax agents to sign up.
. Tax Agents currently using the Sanetax are independent tax professionals and EAs(Enrolled agents). Some have 14yrs of experience in the industry.
. Depending on how complicated your tax filing tax agents tend to charge anywhere from $40 to $200. Again, this is between tax agent and customer to agree upfront.
. As a customer you can talk to them and feel comfortable before agreeing to go forward - just like what you would do for any purchase. At any stage, customer can back off from the agent if he/she is not satisfied. We can assign a new agent.
It's also the first question that popped into my head when I looked at your site (which otherwise, is pretty good).
1. The first thing a user does should not be to register. I should at least be able to see how many tax preparers are in my area and their profiles before registering. Do the preparers have a linkedin or yelp page with endorsements? Is there someone in my FB network that has used this person or liked their services? Nothing compels me to enroll.
2. I think the key to all this is helping tax preparers find new customers by leveraging their existing customer base. Tax prep is a word of mouth business and your goal should be to digitize the word of mouth to maximize reach of potential new customers. For example, make it easy for customers to endorse tax preparers by "liking" their sanetax profile,etc.
Your sales pitch needs to be: "By using SaneTax, you can leverage your existing customer's social network to find new customers." or something like that.
I was solving my own problem with running around the tax professional. Thanks for the pitch.
I have an accountant who handles everything remotely. I live in Los Angeles and he lives in small-town, Nebraska. I met him once when he did a tour of the country to meet clients and drum up new business.
Here's my process:
1) I download a PDF worksheet from his website.
2) I scan all my documents and fill out the worksheet.
3) I send it over https to his LeapFile account.
4) We talk on the phone for a few minutes. He asks a few questions to make sure we're "on the same page."
5) He e-files for me.
6) If I have a refund coming, I get it direct deposited. If not, then I pay with EFTPS and CA web pay.
If I want tax advice, I can ask him. If I want to start a business, he can help out. If I get audited, he can defend me. All without me being there.
Another nice project would be to make a directory of accountants who can handle the whole tax process remotely.
SaneTax aims to be this marketplace between tax preparers and accountants. It's a good model.
Now, the question that I have is, how are the accountants verified and how do I know I (as a preparer) am dealing with someone I can trust?
Right. That's why I said, another nice project would be to make a directory of accountants who can handle the whole tax process remotely.
But maybe there's no business model in that. Enter SaneTax.
I would strongly recommend this approach if you aren't already doing it (have yet to sign up).
IRS has manadated new PTIN requirements http://www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0,,id=218611,00.html we need to have their PTIN to even talk to us.
As I said in other comments, customer can call and make sure they are comfortable with the tax agent we assign. If you are not comfortable, let us know, we will assign a different agent.
From above mentioned steps, you can do all 1 to 3 right from your iphone/android phone. What we have seen as trend on http://sanetax.com/ is that more more people are logging and using the service solely from their mobile phones.
Rapport and support is the same thing that you have with your accountant. We only connect customers and tax professionals. It is the work tax professional and his/her service to make sure they treat you well to receive repeated business(next year).
The less obvious part to folks who aren't in the "industry" is that accountants and lawyers really struggle with technology issues. Technology is not their primary skill and yet tax preparation has become very tech intensive. Add to this all the issues around privacy. There aren't any good solutions that have been widely adopted in these communities for handling confidential material online--i.e. your social security number.
Speaking for myself, I use Magic Vortex where I can for file transfer, but have only recently transitioned to using encrypted pdf's in emails and have had considerable problems with client confusion with the files. I cannot imagine the extra technical support that I might have to provide while trying to use encrypted email, even though it's totally warranted. Perhaps Sanetax can help with these issues.
I would also like to strongly agree fully with fourply's post. The entire industry is not as simple as it might appear from the outside. Like most things we live with these days, regulations are multiplying even as we speak, and they vary widely from state to state. Accountants and lawyers have to meet restrictive federal and state regulations, including around how we get clients in the first place. Hopefully Sanetax will find ways to work with all these rules.
Yes it is so true about how inconvenient it is with the whole pdf encryption and complicated technology in general. Speaking of attachments, we are also the makers of http://www.getdropandlock.com - which did fine but still lot of inconvenience with remembering passwords and everything.
If you attended IRS Live March 30th session, it was clear from the session that we are going to get more regulations. However, we also expect regulations should improve IRS efforts in protecting consumers.
With the Sanetax, we would like to fix the convenience part of taking an expert's advice in taxes.
first of all, there are preparer regulations that require - well, lots of things. this system could run afoul of those quickly and easily.
secondly, the interview process is crucial for me. it can be driven by a form, but it's extremely important to talk with folks about what happened during the taxable year to identify not only potential pitfalls and ensure that everything gets the right treatment, but also to talk about planning opportunities that can save them big $$$ down the road.
for people that are foolish enough to go to H & R Block anyway, maybe this would be a valuable thing - but it's not a cookie-cutter process and treating it as such can result in serious fines and/or jail time for taxpayers and preparers.
my thoughts: make sure you find yourself a tax law badass to make sure you're doing things right. it will be complicated, and costly - but if you don't get it right out of the gate it's not even worth doing.
(I don't use them. Just curious).
Value proposition for tax professional is:
We are connecting you to your customer. That's it. You can choose to have a call or interview or messaging to get to the final return.
Value proposition to customers is:
Whole process of sending tax documents, messaging and paying fee is simplified.
The end result is real, reliable information about which Tax Preparers specialize in what I need. That would be awesome.
Edit: I've now signed up to the service, as I've procrastinated equally with my taxes, however- I still don't know what to do. I appreciate the goal is to match taxed/preparer, but I'm not sure what forms are appropriate, which makes uploading them difficult.
I see there is a progress indicator to communicate how far along the preparer is with the submitted paperwork, maybe a similar guide for what to submit, and what might be missing? (Also possibly augmented by the preparer if the site doesn't want to become a guide?)
IMO, asking me to upload my tax documents without having chosen a tax professional feels backwards. I want to know who is going to be looking at my tax documents. The way things work now, it feels like I'm sending my docs up for bidding. I'm sure that's not what is going on, but that's the perception.
Perhaps some general questions up front to help properly route the customer to the right tax professional, then allow for a match, and then finally, once the customer is paired with a tax professional, present the rest of the features.
Coding point of view, we should have created a wizard kinda flow. Will fix it in next revision. Thanks.
(I'm guessing that for those complex issues, you'd still stick to a live accountant, and this service isn't geared towards that particular segment of the population.)
There are two models a customer can use.
1. Stick with your existing tax professional:
Ask your tax professional to signup as an agent. Free for him/her and then you can work with them through the app. For their own customers, agents can start using the service immediately.
2. Let us assign a tax agent:
Tell us more about your requirements, we can assign agents who is suitable for you.
All agents are mandated to list their PTIN number and phone numbers so that you can call and talk to them.
So anytime, if you are not satisfied, we can drop you from the customer list of a particular tax professional.
Hope above answered your concerns.
If he can use email, he should be able to use http://sanetax.com without any problems.
If you share your state, I can see if any one of our existing tax agents can help you out.
If you are already signed up at sanetax.com our support person should be contacting you soon.
Effectively someone like myself living in a state with a high Cost of living can outsource to someone in say, IL (who may have CA tax knowledge but now lives elswhere) who would charge much less than the CA-based local accountant.
It's also a killer business plan for the marketplace vendor (ie, SaneTax). Who would have known that Amazon could have become such a giant by selling books online?
If I'm doing a simple filing, what is the value proposition of paying $100s for a tax professional using sanetax when I can use snaptax for $20 and submit right on my phone?
1. Who does the taxes?
With snaptax, you still have to file your own taxes. Go through the questionnaire, go through the numbers and select right options.
With sanetax, you are letting an expert handle your taxes. Regardless how simple or how complicated are your taxes.
With sanetax if you have simple returns, I have seen agents charging the customer $40. With snaptax, you need to spend both ~$20 and your time to complete taxes.