The Intuit Tax Online mobile application is a tool which allows practitioners to access client data, e-filing status, and PDF copies of returns on their SmartPhone or tablet running iOS. Users can use the client information from the tax application to make telephone calls or send SMS messages to clients, as well as obtain directions from their current physical location (as sensed by the mobile device) to the client’s physical address using the Apple iOS mapping functions.
Intuit has made steady progress on the online tax application as well as the mobile app over the last few years. These investments have increased the capabilities of the product to the point where it appears to be a formidable competitor to traditional workflow tax software like Drake, TaxWise, and TaxSlayer. The mobile app provides remote access to data for those with a mobile lifestyle or for practitioners who have limited hours outside of tax season, and is a significant selling point for Intuit’s web-based platform.
Square Card Reader
The Square Card Reader app works along with a hardware credit card reader which plugs into the headphone jack of most smartphones and tablets. Although users may not want to leave the reader plugged in when using the smartphone as a traditional phone handset, the card reader is one of the smaller devices at 1” x 1” x ½”, and would not be an undue burden when carrying a phone in a purse or briefcase. Mobile payment services like Square are being used by field service professionals like plumbers and lawn maintenance services, and are a good option for accountants to collect fees from customers who may have limited cash flow but plentiful availability on their credit cards. A competing merchant services company, Sage Payment Services, reported significant sales increases in the annual Girl Scout Cookie sales when troops allowed purchasers to pay via credit card using Sage’s similar mobile payment platform.
Pricing for mobile payment services can be a factor in deciding which one to use, and although Square does not currently charge a fixed monthly base fee for use of its service, the Company takes 2.75 percent of any collections as its charge for operating the service. The net payment is deposited in the firm’s checking account the next day. The service is compatible with most major credit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. While this marginal rate is relatively high when compared to traditional merchant accounts, the lack of a fixed monthly fee may be appealing to users who plan to use the service as a convenience to clients with variable cash flow who have fallen behind in paying their accounting and bookkeeping charges.
Users can sign up for a free account and receive the card reader hardware plugin with no commitment required by creating an account at www.square.com.
Brian Tankersley is a Knoxville, Tennessee CPA and consultant whose practice is focused on technology consulting and training for accountants. Brian is a nationally recognized speaker with K2 Enterprises (k2e.com), and blogs on accounting technology at CPATechBlog.com. Comments, suggestions, and errata are always welcome, and should be e-mailed to brian.tankersley@CPAPracticeAdvisor.com.