How would you characterize your tax team’s approach to business personal property tax—are you managing it (on top of deadlines and working on appeals) or just managing to get by (filing returns down to the wire and no time for appeals)?
If you’re like many tax teams, managing to get by may be business as usual—a way of working that’s so ingrained it seems as if there’s no other way to get things done. For example, it may be commonplace in your office to work until midnight the day before a return deadline, or to see your highest-paid members doing data entry at any given time of day. And what about appeals—do they always rank at the bottom of your priority list? These are all realities that many tax teams accept at face value.
No doubt about it: Managing the business personal property tax cycle is a huge task for businesses of all sizes. But today there are ways to complete the necessary tasks faster and easier, so you can start managing the process masterfully instead of just getting by. More and more corporations are discovering these advanced tools, breaking out of processes and tasks that once slowed them down (and held them back). This article looks at the ways modern tax teams are using business personal property tax software—and how you can use it to gain a competitive advantage for your own team.
Business Personal Property Tax Tools: The Options
Tax tools run the gamut; they range from providing the bare essentials to highly advanced functionality. The type of solution you’re using has a huge impact on your daily routine, and it directly impacts your productivity level. There are two general types of tools: domain agnostic and domain specific.
Read about three trends you can take advantage of now to join the ranks of the world’s most productive tax teams.
Domain agnostic tools are not specific to any particular system. Some business personal property tax teams utilize the following:
- Spreadsheets. There are numerous spreadsheet applications, though Excel is the most commonly used. Some large companies still use spreadsheets to organize and store property tax data, deadlines, and addresses. Data needs to be input and changed manually on a spreadsheet, making this a less desirable tool both in terms of the time it requires and the high rate of error.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRMs are often used as a property management tool; some also extend its use to include tax data.
There are several challenges with domain-agnostic tools: They don’t provide structure (which refers to a particular way of collecting and organizing data so it can be easily used for analysis); they also allow for a greater risk of error. They don’t encourage users to follow a specific workflow, which makes for a lack of traceability as well as allowing non-standard practices leading to data error and costly mistakes.
Domain-specific tools include various types of business personal property tax software, such as CMC’s PTMS, Thomson-Reuters’s OneSource, and CrowdReason’s TotalPropertyTax (TPT). Software is an improvement over domain-agnostic tools, but depending on the type of software you use, it may not be the game-changing solution that helps you break out of your existing cycle.
Why? Historically, legacy tax software has been difficult to implement—it takes a long time to get up and running. It’s also difficult to maintain because immediate support is hard to come by, and it utilizes older desktop or server-based technology, as well as older browser technology. Legacy applications also require the manual input of data, which means an intensive time commitment on your part.
Domain Specific—The Next Generation
Acknowledging the challenges of domain-specific software, CrowdReason created TotalPropertyTax to help solve them. TPT is the only solution available that:
How are tax teams using business personal property tax software?
Advancing from domain agnostic tools to domain specific software benefits tax teams in more ways than one. A software application utilizing databases retains data accuracy yet also allows you to organize data so it can be used for analysis. Tax teams that use software also have an advantage because it helps them manage more parts of the property tax cycle with ease:
- Data gathering and analysis. So much of property tax revolves around data; it’s imperative that your software facilitates data management. Most software still requires the manual input of data into the application, which isn’t the timesaver it could be. MetaTaskerPT is the exception because it extracts all relevant content from scanned tax documents automatically, eliminating data entry completely. (See how this simple change impacted global telecommunications giant Comcast’s property tax practice.) It then aggregates and embeds the data into the TotalPropertyTax system for easy data analysis.
- Document management. Most software helps with managing and tracking files, as well as storing them; it’s also easy to call up documents based on account numbers or document names. TPT takes document management a step further by storing all your documents right within the system. Depending on the data set you’re looking at, you can view the actual document image matching the data being viewed.
- Preparing/filing business personal property tax returns. Preparing and filing returns is the most cumbersome part of the property tax cycle; the right software should reduce the time you spend on these tasks and ensures you won’t be left doing anything manually. TPT does everything from categorizing and allocating assets to depreciating assets to generating and filing thousands (yes, thousands!) of rendition packages in minutes.
- Budgeting. In some cases, software makes it easier to see the full picture of your properties’ tax activity, helping to identify emerging trends and make more accurate predictions for upcoming tax cycles than you could with a spreadsheet. TPT includes an integrated budgeting tool that captures historical tax information and tax rates, and assists with measuring changes in asset values for forecasting purposes. You can also easily create custom reports for your unique data analytic requirements.
- Tracking assessments and appeals. Tracking and managing assessments is a time-consuming activity that software can mitigate. In TPT you can track missing assessment notices, compare notice values to prior year values, and create and track appeal information.
- Paying tax bills. Most software lets you track and manage payments; TPT does this, but also has an option for automating bill payments. Payment automation reduces the burden of deadline tracking and the time it takes to prepare checks; it also reduces the risk of incurring penalties for late payments and/or errors in payment.
Interested in seeing MetaTaskerPT and TPT in action?
If you’d like to gain more control over the business personal property tax cycle—and get ahead instead of getting by—take a look at MetaTaskerPT and TPT. We’ll use your own tax documentation to show you exactly how our software streamlines every step. You’ll also learn how you can use it to gain valuable insights that can help reduce your tax liabilities. Contact us today.