The State Of Accessibility Of Professional Tax Software
Intro: Welcome to a weekly podcast dedicated to accounting, bookkeeping, and small business tasks. Here's your host Taylor Arndt
Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode three of the Booksight podcast. And wow! we have a lot to talk about, so we're going to be doing a lot of talking about tax software. But before we get into taxes, let's go ahead and talk about our sponsor. Because while the sponsor is just myself Taylor’s Financial Services, I can definitely help keep your business ready for tax time. So if you want a reliable bookkeeper, and you want someone to help you do your payroll for your employees, that way, you don't have to worry about it, go ahead and check out Taylor's Financial Services, a link will be provided in the show notes. And that is greatly appreciated.
We have a little bit of news to cover this week. It's not a whole lot like last week, but I definitely have a couple of things that I do want to touch on. So we're gonna go ahead and start with our new section. And our first item is the book site website. The book site website has been updated, and you will now have episodes, you're going to also have a way to see the transcripts, you're gonna be able to subscribe to the podcast, whatever podcatcher you prefer, as well as help donate and sponsor the show. So while I don't have a lot of listeners yet, I'm offering a limited-time deal.
So if you want to sponsor the show, go ahead and do that it's $10 An episode. And this will help me to offset production costs because producing the show is not cheap. But it's so worth it. So you want to help me produce the show and make sure it can be sustainable. Go ahead and sponsor the show. But if you don't have anything to sponsor, no big deal, because I have the option to donate, so you can go ahead and donate however much you want to the show. And all donations will be going to help produce the podcast from the editing to the transcripts to the show notes. All of it. So if you're interested in that, go to booksight.net/sponsor link in the show notes.
Let's talk about another item that has been making a lot of news lately. And this item is called Chat GPT. A lot of people on Twitter and Mastodon and whatever social media platform you like have been raving about chat GPT, which is a chatbot made by open AI, I'm not gonna get into all the technical details. But basically, it is trained on a huge language model that is allowing anyone to kind of have a conversation with it. And it helps with pretty much anything. I know someone on tax Twitter who decided it would be a good idea to feed a whole IRS Publication into it. And it was that interesting? So it actually understood a little bit. But it did kind of have some problems in that regard, because it couldn't actually synthesize the IRS Publication right and put it in, right. But it wouldn't actually give any information about it. Because again, it's only trained up through 2021. So obviously, as much as the IRS changes its regulations, Chat GPT can't keep up.
However, it has a ton of other great uses. For example, right now I have my outline for this podcast in front of me, and guess Chat GPT generated it. Also, the content on the website was generated by Chat GPT as well as the blog posts and other things coming on my new website fortayfinance.com. By the way, my website's coming out in a couple of weeks, and I can't wait. And a whole bunch of other posts. And finally, so my Twitter and other social media posts I use for chat GPT as well as the Book Sight podcast description. Long story short, it's a great way to help write your copy. I really really don't like writing. And so chat GPT gives me a great way to automatically write content for free because right now it’s in a research preview. And so because it's in a research preview, unlike some products, chat GPT is free.
So you don't have to pay like 20 or 40 bucks a month to have content written for you. And that's what's nice. Obviously, we don't know how long it will be free for but it's always great when you can take advantage of it right? It's a research preview. So that's kind of why they're doing that however, it ran really, really, really popular. It had a million users within five days. So it was really popular, really popular. So definitely check that out. It's chat.openai.com. I believe I'll put the exact link in the show notes. You definitely have to check out chat GPT. If you want to have a conversation on the chatbot,
We're gonna go ahead and go onto our main topic for today. And I know that this main topic is something that you guys are probably going to be interested in. I know that we don't want to talk about this topic, because it's not January yet. But I think it's time that we go ahead and talk about it. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? Taxes. Now, taxes really, really are awful. I don't like taxes. I don't like paying them. But what I do like is I like helping people with them. And what I want to talk about today, I want to talk about the state of professional tax software, meaning the tax software, that accountants and other people who are non-business owners who are who are non-individuals use, right, so people who are preparing tax returns professionally.
Well, why did I want to talk about this now? Well, that's a very good question. And I really think that right now is a great time to talk about it, because it's before tax season. And while it's really too early to make changes in terms of accessibility, I just want to throw it out there. And really, what I want to talk about is I want to talk about what the problem is. The problem is, is that no tax preparer software is accessible for someone who is blind if they want to pursue tax preparation. Again, these are all the options that I have tested. So I have tested Drache Lacerte, tax, Intuit pro connect, and TaxSlayer. And I believe one more, and it's not coming to me right now. But I've tested all of those, and none of them are accessible. None of them are able to be working with my assistive technology. None of them are able to be used to help file tax returns. And none of them, would I recommend if someone is going to be a blind tax preparer. Now, again, I don't know if there are blind tax preparers out there, I have no idea. But again, what I'm finding right now is no tax software that is for professionals is accessible.
Why is this important? Why do we even care? Why should we even care? Well, that's a really great question. And the answer is, accessibility is super important. Having accessible software ensures that everyone can access it. And well, a lot of tax preparers are not blind or don't have disabilities. If there's a way for the blind or people with disabilities to prepare taxes as a career option, we need to open that up to them. But the only way to do that is to make sure the software is accessible. And so that is the only reason that we want to make for it. Because if we don't have accessible tax preparation software, then blind people or other people with disability are going to see this as a nonviable option.
As for myself, I really like doing taxes. I mean, I don't want to say I like doing them. But I like helping. And I really wanted to see if I could become a professional tax preparer. I was gonna buy a course and see how that would all go. But I wanted to make sure that the software I was gonna use after I was done buying that course would be accessible. Well, I'm so glad that I went ahead and did that. Because if I didn't, I would have been spending a lot of money for no return because I couldn't actually compare tax returns.
And so, really, what we need to do is we need to make sure that the software is accessible, I can tell you that the most accessible option, in this whole list was Intuit Pro Connect tax online, the least accessible tax option, the rest of them, they're all tied, they all really really stay there pitiful. In fact, if I can't even navigate the window with my screen reader effectively, then that is absolute garbage, right? If I can't even select an option without having to go through some advanced navigation tactics, then that is probably going to be absolute garbage.
Long story short, none of this tax software provides any accessibility except for Intuit pro connect Online, which then is not even fully accessible and would not even be efficient to use. Okay, so that was a lot of a rant. And I know it was probably something you don't want to hear. But what can we do about it? I've already complained enough, and I want to discuss what we can do. Well, the simple answer is we can make this software accessible. Now let me give you an example.
We all know that TurboTax, or maybe you don't know that TurboTax is accessible. It is fully accessible for a blind person to file through TurboTax. The process is very seamless, and it works very well. I'm going to give you an example. Last year I filed my taxes using TurboTax. I went ahead and signed up for my account. I Put it on my data for both my 1099 and W2s. And I had to deal with multiple states because I was living in Michigan for part of the year and Texas for part of the year. And also I went ahead with and expert feature where I could talk to either a CPA Certified Public Accountant or EA Enrolled Agent, where I could actually get specific tax advice because I had a very complicated tax situation that year because I had started a new job as well as worked on a business and move states.
Long story short, I put the TurboTax through its paces, and I did pretty much anything and everything that was available to me, I even bought the TurboTax self-employed, because I had a 1099 and I had a whole bunch of business deductions. So TurboTax treated me very well, the process was extremely seamless. And I was able to do it. No problems with accessibility whatsoever. Everything was labeled properly. And it worked. Absolutely awesome. I was also able to import my 1099 W2s and my other tax forms with no problem and it was able to recognize my employers, and I just had to fill out some information. So TurboTax was absolutely awesome. Why can't I use TurboTax? Though, for professionals and why, you know, why does this even matter if there's TurboTax out there? Well, if we look at the EULA, it says very clearly that TurboTax is only to be used for personal tax returns, or by the person who's doing it, meaning do it yourself. Well, why is that a problem? It's a problem. Because me as a tax professional, I'm technically not allowed to use TurboTax. Especially if I repeat it, I am from the IRS. Right. So I have that paid preparer tax ID from the IRS. And I can't even use TurboTax because it says that the license is for personal and not professional use.
A lot of people on this podcast, you know, will, though, right? Because if you use professional software, you buy tax returns, you buy them in bulk, right? You know, I don't know, one tax return for $100. Well, obviously, for TurboTax, you pay them directly, but you don't buy tax returns. So really, there's no way that a professional could use it. Unless they change their license agreement. I did hear on one of these podcasts. And I cannot remember which one it was that TurboTax is thinking about adding a feature where basically, the clients can use their own experts instead of using turbo taxes. Now, let me tell you about that one. You do not know how happy and overjoyed I would be. If that were the case where I could help my client file their taxes through TurboTax. Legally, and where I, instead of TurboTax, I would be my client's tax expert. I would be absolutely overjoyed if that were the case. Because I know that that will be the best and easiest method for me to become a successful tax preparer. I don't know when that will happen, but I think I heard that on investor day for Intuit. So who knows if that's going to be a reality. But all I know is that TurboTax is the best option right now.
And another example of this is I had to help my boyfriend with his taxes, and he has previously used h&r block, and I know a bunch of people on tax Twitter. They don't like h&r block. They don't want it. And I understand why. Because h&r Block doesn't help business owners get their deductions. Now, here's the thing. My boyfriend, Michael had taxes, and he had liability from the previous year because h&r Block isn't smart enough to know when we need to deduct or how to deduct. And, of course, if the taxpayer isn't aware that they can deduct things if they're self-employed, well, then it looks like you're just given a bunch of free money, the IRS. Well, no one wants to do that. That's one reason why Michael kind of had me help him with his taxes because he knew that I knew all the deductions. But another reason is because I'm using TurboTax, and TurboTax makes sure that you get all the deductions, unlike h&r block. So that's kind of one thing to keep in mind too. I like h&r block. It's good. But again, if you're self-employed, I might look at TurboTax. That's just my opinion.
So that's a whole thing to say that the safest and most effective way to make tax prep software accessible would be to use what we already have. We already have a great product from Intuit called TurboTax. Well, it's not technically licensed for professional use. If they were to ever bring in the Expert feature where clients can use their own experts instead of Intuit. I think that would open up the door for blind tax preparers to help clients with their tax returns. And I think it would also open the door for a lot of other things too. The other option is that we can have the software manufacturers who make this tax software, step it up and make their software accessible. And I would love that as well. So we have a lot of different options for handling this situation. And I think it's just whatever the industry decides. I'm pretty sure that this is the first time that this topic has really been brought into the spotlight. But I can tell you that I'm sure that this will help not only myself but others out there who want to get into the industry, or who maybe are in the industry but maybe are going to have vision problems in the future and make sure that they want to be able to do this after they lose your sight.
So I think that's super important. Accessibility in general, is super important. And I think that's why I'm super excited to be on this podcast because I can share my journey as a blind bookkeeper and the challenges that I have faced in hopes that things may change in the future.
So that's kind of how I think that we're going to handle that in the future. And maybe we're going to handle it in other ways as well. But maybe I think that the TurboTax route is definitely the best way to go, assuming that that's actually something anyone wants to do. And we'll just have to kind of see. But the moral of the story is that if you want to be a boring tax preparer right now, out of the software that I was able to get my hands on and test, none of it is actually accessible. Or if it accessible is not fully accessible, it's not actually efficient for a blind person to prepare clients' tax returns, or even their own, because I tried to prepare my own, and it just didn't work.
So that is all about tax returns. And I know, as I said, taxes, it's awful, but we have to talk about it. Also, it's going to be the week before Christmas. So next week, I'm going to be having an episode, and I'm also going to be doing some more interviews as well. So I'm going to be interviewing my grandmother about her business because she is one of the ones that helped me to be where I am today. And we're also going to have a regularly scheduled episode. The other thing that I wanted to go over is I want to talk about a question that I often get, are you ever going to become a CPA? And the answer to that is, I don't think so. So let me explain. I've gotten this question from a lot of different people. They're like, Oh, are you going to become a CPA? Or do you want to become a CPA? Or would you want to become a CPA? You know, all of those kinds of things? And my answer is, well, I would really love to. I work a full-time job. And I don't even have a bachelor's degree yet.
So I'd have to get a bachelor's and try to go for the CPA. And when I get out of school for CPA, I could be placed in very low-paying jobs that would be less than what I'm making now at my current job. So right now, being a CPA wouldn't make economical sense. However, if I wanted to, I am thinking about going ahead and going for my E a, my Enrolled Agent, where I can help represent clients and for the IRS, and kind of have the same representation rights as a CPA, but be more trained in the tax side rather than audit. Because I found out through a very interesting way that I do not enjoy auditing, I don't enjoy it at all. I do accessibility auditing for work. And I've also done some financial auditing for other projects that I'm a part of, but I don't enjoy the audit side of accounting. But I do enjoy the tax side. So my answer is, I don't think I'd become a CPA. I don't want to rule it completely out, though.
But if I were to become a CPA, it would be under different circumstances that I am currently. And I think that that's something that's important. Because I think there are other paths, and I know a bunch of CPAs are probably gonna write in the listener mail, and I'm sure they will. So I'm gonna be prepared for that, that there is a shortage of CPAs. And I understand that. And again, I want to be a CPA, possibly. But the thing is that I have to go through a bunch of college courses, try to work my full-time job, and then risk that when I get out of my college, I will make less than what I'm making right now, without any degree at my full-time job at the moment, because looking at the salaries for CPA graduates or college graduates in accounting, that are going to be starting their first position, they make far less than what I make my full-time job right now. So, therefore, the economics and the accounting of it didn't make sense. Now, if we didn't have to deal with economics and accounting and I could just do whatever I wanted. Full Force, I jumped at it. But considering that I'd have to go for 150 hours of credits and then try to get a job that paid less than I make now. Then I'm fortunate not. And, of course, I don't like audits. So that would just be awful.
But having said that, I love taxes. And of course, that's why I brought this subject up because I want to eventually be a tax preparer. But in order to do that, I really need accessible tax software. So here's my call to action for you guys. If you know any tax software that you think could be accessible, go ahead and write me an email or send a voice message on our website. And I would love to try it. So you have a way where I can actually evaluate the software that you want to try for accessibility. Oh, boy, I would love to know because I honestly really want to find inaccessible tax software. So that's kind of my call to action this week. But yeah, that's kind of really all I have. Happy holidays everyone, and it's gonna be a great week. Like I said, I'll be doing some interviews, and I'm super excited. So have a great week, everyone. Let's go ahead and prepare for tax season in January. Enjoy it while you can. And I think that will do it!
Outro: Thank you for tuning in to the Booksight Podcast you can find show notes, transcripts, and ways to support the show at booksight.net. Let's get social follow us on Twitter at Booksight Pod and like us on Facebook at Booksight podcast. You can also connect with us on Mastodon at accounting.social. Our host Taylor Arndt is on Twitter at Tayarndt, and her website is at tayfinance.com. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review and let us know what you thought. We'll be back next week with more tips and insights on accounting, bookkeeping, and small business tax.