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Evolution of Tax Return Workflow - From Then To Now

Excellent article from WebCPA.com Document Management in the Cloud discusses emerging trends in CPA firm tax workflow. Will get to that in a future post, but first, let's look at the evolutionary history of tax return workflow to see how we emerged from the murky past to get where we are today: 


  • Paper-based tax returns without copiers (something called "ozalid" paper from the murky past)
  • Paper-based tax returns with copiers (emergence of something they called the Xerox machine)
  • Computer batch input of return data on paper input sheets, mailed to software company which mailed return back (my early Arthur Anderson days)
  • PC is invented, same as above, but paper input sheets entered by clerk on PC, who gives paper return back to preparer (my early GKRB days).
  • Batch input of returns on preparer PC, copy file to 5.25" floppy, copy file from floppy to tax computer connected to laser printer (Cro-Magnon sneaker network)
  • Interactive input on preparer PC, copy to  3.5" copy floppy file to tax computer connected to laser printer (Neanderthal sneaker network)
  • Interactive input using a Client/Server network, print returns to laser printer, photocopy govt & client copies (3 paper copies)
  • E-file returns avoiding govt copy, but print client and firm paper copies of returns (2 paper copies)
  • Implement Document Management System (DMS) for current and archive files (down to 1 paper copy..beginning of Teilhardian leap). 
  • Implement multiple monitors for each workstation (are we there yet?)

To be continued...





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