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Accounting & Audit

How to Choose an Offshore Tax Partner

Before you jump in and start researching accounting offshoring partners, a few areas need to be understood.

By Shawn Parikh.

It’s that time of the year again; accounting firms are gearing up for the busy tax season and will need all the help they can get. Some firms will opt to hire additional accountants; however, with all that’s going on from talent shortages to the ‘Great Resignation’ it’s not as easy as it seems. Other firms will look forward and outward by contracting the services of an accounting offshoring company.  

Once you have decided that offshoring is the correct strategy to manage the tax season rush, the next step is to decide which accounting partner is right for your firm. Before you jump in and start researching accounting offshoring partners, a few areas need to be understood.

  • First, you need to evaluate your firm’s requirements to know what kind of offshore model will be best for you. Are you looking for a temporary solution just to manage the rush or preferably a long-term solution that allows you to free up your time and grow your business? You need to be clear about what problem you are trying to solve by utilizing accounting offshoring.
  • Do you have a preference of which country you would like to offshore to? Nowadays, you can find accounting offshoring companies based in Europe, China and the Philippines. India tends to be the preferred accounting offshoring choice as they have meticulous academic and professional training and high-level expertise in U.S. accounting.
  • It’s also important to consider if offshoring is a good cultural fit for your accounting firm. How will your onshore staff react to the concept of offshoring? Do you have their genuine buy-in? If not, it’s crucial to explain why you are going down the offshoring route and how it will benefit the firm and them.

Once you have evaluated and answered the questions above, it’s now time to reach out to accounting offshoring partners to see who is right for you.

HOW TO IDENTIFY A RELIABLE ACCOUNTING OFFSHORING PARTNER?

One of the main factors contributing to optimism regarding offshoring collaboration is reliability and choosing a reputable service provider. An offshoring service provider gains trust and builds their reputation by possessing specific characteristics such as:

Comprehensive data security

Your offshoring partner must provide data protection for sensitive and personally identifiable information about your clients. Look for certifications like SOC 2 and ISO 9001:2015 quality management system (QMS). Ask your potential offshoring partner about their data security procedures. The ideal candidate conforms to these and ISO 27001 criteria and uses reliable and secure information technology solutions.

Proven track record

This is a crucial consideration while looking for the ideal outsourcing partner for your CPA company. A successful track record in the accounting sector is developed only by the most reputable tax offshoring service providers. Ask how many people they have assisted with tax preparation and how long they have been in business. You want to ensure that your offshoring partner can deliver on their promises and that performance is assured. You need to work with an outsourcing company you can trust.

A trustworthy offshoring firm will be more than happy to share customer references and will even let you speak to current and previous clients. There is nothing wrong in asking this; in fact, it’s highly recommended before making any final decisions.

Outstanding talent pool

The ideal offshoring company would have hired certified and professional tax preparers. Evaluate the technical proficiency of the provider based on their skill set, utilization of cutting-edge technologies, technical knowledge, and passion. The offshore team members should have experience in U.S. taxation which can be evaluated on demand.

Many Indian accounting offshoring providers hire experienced staff with qualifications such as CA’s, CPA’s, CMA’s and EA’s to manage the tax season rush.

It is essential to pick a service provider with more than average expertise in various technologies. It also entails starting the job right from the outset, a guaranteed method of increasing total efficiency.

Assure quality delivery

Look at their client reviews to determine whether an offshoring firm has been producing high-quality results. You should only work with a company with an explicit service level agreement describing the task scope and the workflow. The best accounting offshoring companies offer manager FTE solutions, which allow specialists to examine the work and catch any errors.

Do they conduct regular quality assessments such as C-SAT? What is their error rate when it comes to tax preparation? Ideally, error rates should not surpass 5%.

Offers the best-in-class technology and infrastructure

Along with establishing their backup plans, it’s crucial to ensure they have the best infrastructure and the most up-to-date tax preparation software. This not only guarantees excellent effectiveness but also helps reduce future risks. Accuracy and speed are of the utmost importance when preparing taxes, so using the appropriate tools may guarantee both.

Take time to assess their BCP (Business Continuity Plan) so you know what happens in a major event such as a natural disaster or pandemic such as Covid-19. Are they equipped to handle such situations, and if so, how?

Flexible engagement models

An offshoring service provider should always have a flexible working style. Determine whether your potential tax preparation partner offers a variety of engagement types to meet your needs and your budget. Avoid the hidden fees that certain offshoring companies impose on their clients. An offshoring partner with flexible, scalable engagement models is essential.

Exceptional client support

Who do you contact if there is a problem in the prepared tax returns? How long does it take for them to respond to messages? Do they have a dedicated client relationship manager who you can easily contact? What type of feedback did you get when you asked current/previous clients of theirs about their customer support?

Wrapping Up

These are just some of the questions you should ask when choosing the right offshoring partner for the tax season. Beyond these questions, you also need to evaluate the level of English communication their staff has. Also consider what time zone they will work in and whether it matches your requirements.

Choosing the right accounting offshoring partner for the tax season can mean the difference between a successful and a challenging one. There are many offshoring providers, such as Entigrity, but you should choose one that aligns with your goals and culture.  

While offshore accounting services are advantageous, there are five mistakes an accounting firm must avoid when hiring an accounting offshoring partner. Eventually, everything comes down to what works best for your accounting firm.

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Shawn Parikh is CEO of Entigrity Solutions, LLC.