Best Practices Guide

Welcome to our step-by-step guide to align your firm with our recommended best practices to make your experience with SafeSend Returns easy and seamless. 

Our most successful customers will tell you this

Streamline the process 

There are two approaches to processing returns in SafeSend Returns:

  • Administrators Only (Recommended):
    The ERO/Signer of the return should perform their final review in the tax software or from a PDF file prior to being uploaded to SafeSend Returns. Only Administrators will process and deliver returns.
    • SafeSend is designed to automate tax return assembly and delivery. The QA/QC process is well defined and easily learned. Administrators adopt and embrace it quickly as it empowers them to deliver tax returns in 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Administrators and Partners: 
    Administrators process the return then send it to the ERO/Signer/Partner for review. The Partner will either deliver to the taxpayer or route back to the Administrator with approval to deliver. This creates inefficiencies as two people are essentially performing the same task. This goes against Lean Six Sigma process improvement principles and is not recommended.

Send a templated email to taxpayers

We recommend you send a templated email to the taxpayer before you deliver the tax return from SafeSend Returns. You might consider having two different email templates, one for the 1040s and one for entity returns. The content of the email should include the following:

  • We are using a new program called SafeSend Returns to electronically deliver tax returns. You should have received an email from noreply@safesendreturns.com. If you have not, please check your Spam or Junk folder and add it to your safe sender's list.
  • The email will contain a link that is safe to click. You will need to provide the last 4 digits of your SSN and enter an access code that will be sent to you in a separate email or text after verification.
  • You will gain access to your tax return where you can:
    • Download, review, print, etc.
    • Electronically sign your e-file authorization forms, or print, manually sign and return to us as usual (1040 template).
    • The IRS requires us to ask you some personal questions to verify your identity so please do not be alarmed by the personal questions (1040 template).
    • Electronically distribute your K-1s to your Partners/Shareholders (entity template).
    • Print, sign and return your e-file authorization forms (entity template).
    • See if you owe taxes, are receiving any refunds, and see your estimated tax payments.
    • For a walkthrough guide for the taxpayer, see Client experience.

Use for all qualified taxpayers

Our most successful customers are sending 75% - 85% of their tax returns through SafeSend Returns. This is where you will get the highest return on investment. You should take the position that every tax return will be delivered through SafeSend Returns unless they fall into one of the following categories:

  • Taxpayers who will not qualify for knowledge-based authentication (KBA). These taxpayers can sign the return manually using SafeSend Returns:
    • Children.
    • Taxpayers living outside the US.
    • Taxpayers who recently moved to the US.
    • Taxpayers who recently married and changed their name. 
  • Extension packages.

Send manually filed returns in paper or as an attachment

For returns that need to be manually filed, there are two approaches that have proven successful:

  • Electronic: Upload the manually filed returns as separate PDFs in the Attachments section and provide instructions in addition to the Message From Preparer instructions.
  • Paper: Mail them a paper copy of just the manually filed returns and provide them instructions.

Personal preferences are problems

When delivering paper-based tax returns, many firms and/or partners have developed personal preferences in how the tax return is assembled and delivered. Personal preferences in a paper process do not transition well to an electronic process. Try to accept the client copy of the tax return as it comes out of your tax software. Lean Six Sigma studies prove that taxpayers usually do not view things the way you think they do. For example, they do not have an ERO signature preference (wet signature or signature stamp). 

Policy decisions

This section is only necessary for new customers who have not yet configured their accounts. Prior to your initial training for Account Setup, please have your SafeSend Returns Champions discuss and determine how your firm will handle the items listed below.

ERO signatures

  • What is your current policy for ERO signatures on Form 8879? 
    • Have you considered using the SSR signature stamps? If so, have you considered signer delegation (i.e. other people can be granted permission to place my signature stamp)?
    • It is recommended you use signature stamps in your tax software or in SafeSend Returns, not both. If both are enabled, the signatures will stack and look odd.

E-signatures on form 8879

  • Knowledge-Based Authentication: Required by the IRS and we recommend keeping it enabled.
  • Entity: Will you use e-signatures on 1041, 1065, 1120, or 1120S even though the IRS does not currently allow it? NOTE: E-signatures are temporarily allowed through October 31, 2023. 

Delivery permissions

  • Who will be allowed to deliver the returns?
    • Returns can be delivered by any User (recommended) or
    • Restricted to the Partner and System Admin roles (not recommended).

Voucher reminders

  • Do you want Taxpayers to receive an email notification before their payments are due?
  • If so, how many days before the due date do you want them to receive the reminder?

1040 authentication

  • Use the first or last 4 of the SSN?

PDF download options

  • Transmittals: Include with the Tax Return or create a separate PDF?
  • Payment Vouchers: Separate by due date or group in a single PDF?

Invoices and payments

  • Will you send invoices with the returns?
  • If yes, what is the source-tax software (ex. QuickBooks)?
  • Will you offer online payment of invoices?
    • If yes, do you have an existing PayPal account or another URL?

Default messages

  • Consider default messages to taxpayers based on return type or use case scenario.

Delivered returns report

  • Do you want a custom field in the Delivered Returns Report?
  • If so, what are the Field Name and the related possible values/statuses?
What all users must know

It is very important that all users read and understand this section of this guide to prevent unnecessary customer support tickets and user frustration.

Return types

E-signing form 8879

1040

  • The IRS requires the taxpayer and spouse to separately authenticate with Knowledge-Based Authentication.
  • They will be asked 3-5 personal questions that are obtained from their credit report and other public databases.
  • The questions are generated by LexisNexis.

1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S

  • The IRS currently does not generally allow the use of E-Signatures on the 8879s for these return types.
    • NOTE: E-signatures are temporarily allowed through October 31, 2023. For more information, see our IRS e-signature policy update.
    • Your firm can decide whether or not to allow e-signing on entity returns. 

PDF requirements

  • Must be the Client Copy of the return. Do not submit the Accountant or Governmental copy.
  • Do Not Modify the PDF files in any way.
  • Do not delete pages or bookmarks.
  • Do not add pages or bookmarks.
  • Do not password protect the PDF file or add a digital signature that might restrict access to the file.

We do not recommend e-signing in the following situations

  • Taxpayers or spouses that will not qualify for KBA.
  • Children.
  • Those living outside the US.
  • Those who just moved to the US.
  • Someone recently married and changed their name.
  • Extension packages.

Electronic K-1 distribution

  • Available and part of the system for 1041, 1065, and 1120S returns.

Payment vouchers

  • Currently cannot be changed once they have been delivered. We are working on a future enhancement to allow you to modify payment vouchers after delivery. 

Payment processing

  • SafeSend Returns does not process any payments. We provide a link for your clients to make their payments to the correct tax authority.

Automatic withdrawal payments

  • For payments that are scheduled for automatic withdrawal, you will need to manually add those to the Vouchers tab.
  • For payments that are required to be paid online, you will need to manually add those to the Vouchers tab.

Taxpayer preview

  • You must enable pop-ups in your preferred browser to use the Taxpayer Preview. If you click the Taxpayer Preview button and nothing happens, it's being blocked.
Print settings

It is very important that all users read and understand the print settings for the applicable tax software.

Additional resources

Important

  • If this is the first time a client is using SafeSend Returns, send your firm's agreed-upon templated email as discussed in the Send a Templated Email to Taxpayers section of this Best Practices Guide.
  • Follow the normal steps at the end of the preparation process that might include setting the status to Complete, exporting for e-filing, and printing the PDF copies to your firm's standard document storage location.
  • For a step-by-step guide to processing a return see the article Processing Returns.

Need help?

Customer support and training resources are as follows:

  • Report a Problem: If there is an issue in processing a return make sure to use the Report a Problem feature in SafeSend Returns. It can be accessed from either:
    • The Help drop-down is in the top right portion of SafeSend Returns (generic form).
    • The Actions drop-down in the Delivered Returns Report (form linked to specific return).
  • Call: (855) 818-3552 Ext 3
  • Email: support@safesend.com
  • Website: Product Help Center
  • Training: Workshops and Webinars
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