Director of Communications and User Experience at TaxCycle
We had the chance to speak with Elizabeth Kohl, TaxCycle’s director of communications and user experience, who provided her insightful opinions about the company’s background, how it joined Xero, and its first anniversary as a member. She also discussed some of the most typical mistakes people make when preparing their own taxes, the advantages that Xero users will gain from this partnership, new tools or updates to existing integrations that she is excited about, and finally, her expert advice for people who are having trouble getting organized for tax season.
As Director of Communications and User Experience at TaxCycle, Elizabeth champions clear, concise communication. She applies her design skills to make TaxCycle simple, usable and delightful for Canadian tax preparers. Elizabeth enjoys tackling tricky topics in TaxCycle webinars and online documentation, creating simple and beautiful instructional videos and writing, and helping preparers make the most of TaxCycle.
Congratulations on TaxCycle’s one-year anniversary as a part of Xero! Can you share some thoughts on the progress made over the past year? Can you provide some history on TaxCycle and how it became a part of Xero?
Thank you! It’s been an exciting year that has gone by quickly. As with any acquisition, a lot of the progress over this first year was internal to the organization. Bringing teams together and planning, all while retaining the TaxCycle culture and tight relationship with the accountants and bookkeepers we work with to keep delivering a great professional tax preparation software for the Canadian market.
TaxCycle was founded in 2010 by Cameron Peters as his third professional tax software venture in as many decades. I’ve been with the organization since 2012 and that was the first year we released a T1 personal tax product. Over the years, the team has expanded the tax suite to cover all income return types required for jurisdictions in Canada – federal and provincial. Our overall goal is to build tools that improve the lives of tax preparation professionals, especially during the busy tax season. Because of this, we also created DoxCycle for source document management, TaxFolder for electronic signatures, and integrated with software partners like Xero (even before the acquisition).
Can you provide an overview of the benefits that Xero users will experience through this partnership? How does the integration work?
Last year, we first launched our Xero integration with import of GIFI (General Index of Financial Information) into T2 corporate tax returns in TaxCycle. This provided a direct connection between the accounting data and the income statements used to prepare tax returns, reducing data entry and improving accuracy.
This fall, we’re really excited to release the next phase of this integration, expanding it to T2125 statements of business and professional activity and T776 rental statements that form part of the T1 personal tax return. This is a game-changer for accountants and bookkeepers whose clients use Xero, as many small businesses still run as sole proprietorships and need to file these forms with their personal tax returns. We’ve been wanting to do this for years but it required having a close relationship with an accounting provider to implement the nuances on both sides of the integration. Now that we’re literally on the same team, this was much easier to accomplish.
Are there any new tools or updates to existing ones that you’re particularly excited about? How do you think the updates will impact user experience?
The T2125/T776 integration is the game-changer for this season and I’m excited to see it in action. It is also the beginning of what’s to come. Our focus with TaxCycle is to take the power of professional tools on the desktop and pair them with the speed and flexibility available in online tools, so the next year will be about expanding on that theme to keep making it easier for accounting professionals to work quickly and flexibly with their teams and clients.
The great part about working in tax is that there is always more work to do. For tax accountants, this year’s big ticket item is the immediate expensing of capital cost allowance that allows businesses to claim the full cost of certain assets in the first year after purchase. We’ve just released the automated calculations for the T2 corporate tax returns and they are pretty slick. The T1 personal tax and T5013 partnership versions are coming in the new year. This measure is significant to Canadian businesses and I love that our work will make it easier for tax preparers to support them this season.
For people who are doing their own taxes this year, what are some of the most common mistakes that people make?
Waiting too long to bring in an accounting professional. Small business owners are independent by nature and many want to take care of everything themselves. But keen business strategy is knowing when you need to bring in outside expertise. There are lots of different ways to engage in that accounting relationship, from one-time advice, to monthly bookkeeping or once-a-year year-end write-up. Building the right relationship for your business can save you time and money.
What is your best advice for people who are struggling to get organized for tax season?
Investing in the right tools year round to make it easier come tax time. That’s why I’m so excited about Xero. I know tax season is just around the corner, but there’s still time to organize for this year and slide into it with ease. My family has a side business and I now use Xero for our books (of course). Not only does it save time month-to-month with bank feeds and bank statement import but I can now easily move that data to TaxCycle when the time comes. And that’s just one benefit. The Xero app store also has integrations with other software you likely already use to help you import and track receipts, or bring in e-commerce transactions. I like to think of it as a small cost to support efficient bookkeeping over the course of the year that will save hours of my time, or billable hours with an accountant, come tax time.