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Dear CPA: Stop Asking For My Tax Return Information Through Email

on 15 January 2024

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Posted by Craig Hyslop
dear cpa stop asking for my tax return information through email blog header

As the leader of an accounting firm, how certain are you that you’ll never receive a letter like the following (which accurately reflects the sentiments of a real small business owner about his service provider’s accounting security and organizational capabilities)—or that none of your current clients harbor similar thoughts silently?

Dear Steve,

You’ve been my accountant for over five years now. In that time, I’ve watched your firm grow—securing new clients and adding staff members to keep up with the work.

While I’ve been proud of this growth because I respect you and the work you do for my business, it has also made apparent several issues I must bring to your attention because they are negatively impacting me as a client. I’m hoping we can remedy these issues as we go into the next tax season.

The Runaround With My Files

Let’s start with last year. You emailed me requesting a ton of sensitive financial information for my business—but so did three other people in your firm. Each team member asked for their own set of documents, which may or may not have been the same ones asked by others on their team.

What’s worse is that on multiple occasions I received emails asking for a document or piece of information I had already sent to either the requestor or someone else on their team. With each new email that landed in my inbox, I became more confused and frustrated at how much time I was wasting.

The lack of organization and clear way to send (or retrieve) files has eroded my trust in your firm’s attention to detail. In addition, the fact that your team was still requesting information and asking questions about my financials days before my returns were due made me question your firm’s ability to perform—with proper due diligence—the accounting work for which I’m paying.

At one point, I contemplated whether I should even respond to your team’s emails at all.

The only thing spurring me on was knowing filing deadlines were approaching. I knew I’d have to suffer through the headache to have my taxes completed and submitted on time to avoid any penalties.

My (In)secure Personal Tax Return Information

Beyond the runaround and inefficiency, the fact that we were still using email at all was also concerning. I consider myself fairly technically savvy and informed about cybersecurity issues. I realize my business is small and may not be as big a target as Fortune 500 companies, but I’ve heard enough horror stories of other small businesses being caught unaware and unprepared when a cybersecurity event occurred.

Even if I ignore the common security issues such as malware and phishing attempts, there’s nothing to stop a team member from forwarding my email to someone outside the company—whether on accident or on purpose.

A Questionable Checklist

Lastly—and this is a small gripe in comparison to the above items but it’s still one that I find frustrating—every year, you send me a checklist that I must keep up with myself. This wouldn’t be an issue if the list was five items long and I could send everything in one day.

However, you know that I must send dozens of financial documents to you, and it can take time to collect the information needed for those documents. So I send you items over several weeks.

Add to that the issue I already stated about dealing with multiple parties and I wind up wasting a considerable amount of time on a process that I know can be automated. I’ve seen it done with my mortgage documents when buying a house, along with other areas of my business and personal lives.

Next Steps

Overall, I want to make it clear that I would like to continue working with you, Steve. However, the lack of security and efficiency, especially considering that your firm isn’t exactly the cheapest, is pushing me to consider other accounting firms—ones that have more streamlined processes that remove burdens from me instead of adding them.

Moving forward, I need to know what guarantees you will provide for implementing a technology or process for gathering client tax information securely and keeping both your team and clients in the loop about the documents I’ve shared.

Looking forward to an amicable solution quickly.

ABC Service Company

Need an email alternative that improves not only communication but also productivity? Schedule a free demo of Glasscubes today.

Why Email Could Be Putting Your Accounting Firm’s Security and Reputation At Risk

The rise in cybercrimes like phishing have caused accounting security to become an increasing concern among consumers and business owners. Yet every tax season, accounting firms send countless emails to their clients requesting personal tax return information. But this approach isn’t secure or efficient enough for the modern-day client.

As John called out in his letter to his accounting firm, using email to gather client information is not secure. The traditional workflow in accounting consists of five steps:

  • Initial contact and document request
  • Document submission and review
  • Clarification and additional information requests
  • Reporting and feedback
  • Finalization and approval

Each of these steps has mishaps when using email, such as emails being ignored altogether, mixed email threads causing confusion, and feedback in email becoming fragmented and hard to track.

You can learn about these mishaps in greater depth in this article we wrote on the subject. But the main takeaway is this:

Your firm must find a way to ease the burden of information collection and make the process more secure if it hopes to continue doing business well into the future.

Client Portals for Accountancy Firms

Make a Change Now With Glasscubes

Whether you have a large or small accounting firm, Glasscubes is the perfect collaboration solution for keeping your clients and staff on the same secure page.

You can easily share and organize financial documents, tax returns, and reports securely in one centralized location. This eliminates the need for manual tracking and searching through numerous email attachments, ensuring that everyone has access to the latest versions of documents.

Use Glasscubes to increase accounting security

In addition, you can request files by sending a single link that navigates to a unique, secure portal where clients can upload the documents you need. Files are checked off as they’re uploaded, so you and clients can easily see progress. Accountants find this particular feature to be a life saver.

And for keeping client projects separate but on the same platform, create unlimited, customizable workspaces. Team members can share resources and communicate with one another in their specific workspace, and you can access them all for easy oversight.

“[Glasscubes is] saving us hours of resource”

“Prior to using Glasscubes, our whole team was involved in contacting our clients multiple times a year to request their records. This was very time-consuming and was not as successful as we would have liked. We started using Glasscubes this tax year and to date it has saved us around 288 hours of resource, allowing our staff to proceed with actual work. Will definitely be using again in future years.”

—Sophie M, a manager in the accounting industry, via Capterra

Sophie and many others use Glasscubes to increase accounting security and make collaboration easier. It’s their go-to secure client information platform.

Ready to ditch email? See how our accounting collaboration software creates a smooth, easy workflow minus the headache. Request a free demo of Glasscubes today.


About this author: Craig Hyslop

Craig leads the Glasscubes Customer Success Department, and with over 30 years experience in the field, helping companies achieve maximum success with collaborative technology.