Now through the end of the year, many firms review their personal property compliance vendor’s performance and evaluate their needs for the upcoming year. This is an important annual process, as a fresh review and perspective ensures your firm is receiving the highest-quality service and results. During this evaluation, there are a few key items/questions to keep in mind, especially if you are thinking about changing vendors. Below are the Top 10 things to consider during your review:
- Lead Time – Did my vendor give us ample time to provide the information they needed to file the returns? Or did it always feel like a fire drill and add unnecessary stress on me?
- Return Timeliness – Did my vendor keep us informed on the status of the filings? Did they file all the returns in a timely manner? Did they give us ample time to review the returns?
- Embedded Tax Savings – Am I sure my vendor incorporated tax savings opportunities into the returns? Did they share any insights into possible savings opportunities?
- Assessment Follow Through – Do I know if my vendor reviewed the resulting assessments? Did they dispute any excessive assessments?
- Communication – Was my vendor responsive to inquiries and information requests? Am I satisfied with the level of communication?
- Technology and Access – Did my vendor provide me with copies of the filings? Do I have online access to the return status and PDFs of the returns?
- Client Service – Does my vendor meet with me at least annually to review the engagement? Are they continuously seeking ways to streamline the process for all parties involved?
- Tax Bill Review – Does my vendor thoroughly review and approve all tax bills?
- Tax Bill Processing – Does my vendor timely process the tax bills? Am I getting ample time to make the payments or am I being rushed? Does my vendor have an option available to pay the bills?
- Business Changes – Have my needs changed? Do I need to change the scope of services? Has my volume changed due to mergers or acquisitions? Will my vendor offer customized solution based on my current needs?
While there are many things to take into consideration, what it really comes down to is results and ease of service. Your provider should be proactively providing services and communicating status updates, thus reducing your stress and time commitment. They should offer a streamlined process for accurate and timely filings, and they should be embedding tax savings directly into the returns to maximize your investment. While cost is another thing to consider, it is important to make sure you are getting value from your vendor. If your vendor is not doing these simple things, it’s probably time to consider other options.
I have over 30 years of real estate and personal property tax consulting and compliance experience and thoroughly understand the intricacies of this important service and how to customize solutions to meet the specific needs of each client. If you would like to have a conversation about your firm’s 2019 Personal Property Compliance needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Paradigm Tax Group, with over 20 years in the real and personal property tax business, stands ready to assist.
Brad Gorski, CMI, MRICS
National Director of Personal Property