TaxCalc Training Series 04 – Mail Merge and Questionnaires

TaxCalc Training Series 04 – Mail Merge and Questionnaires


Hello and welcome to this TaxCalc training video. In this video we’ll be looking at the mail merge function, including creating template letters and emails to send out to clients. To start, we’ll create a new mail merge template. Then a tax questionnaire from scratch. This task is particularly useful for collecting next year’s tax return information. You can pull across information from your client’s previous return into a checklist for your client to update and send back to you. These sections are under the Client Hub in the launcher on the left. Let’s open Client Hub. Mail Merge is in the action panel on the bottom left. Let’s go into Mail Merge. There are two options on the left-hand side. One for creating a new mail merge, creating a template of our choice, and one for a new client questionnaire, which is a specific tax checklist request form we can create. Let’s create a new mail merge. For this example, we’ll send a letter to our self-employed clients, letting them know that the tax return season is upon us and that we need their information. At this point we need to select which clients you want to include in the mail merge. The mail merge will pull across each client’s records into the letter, so it’s sent with the relevant information. We can select all clients, contacts, or both. Specific clients can be selected from the list, by highlighting and adding them to the right-hand column. We can also do a data mine to query the database and get the relevant results. Click ‘data mine’ and add conditions to search through the database fields. We’re searching for clients with self-employment pages on their last tax return for 2017. Let’s confirm they have those pages by selecting ‘Yes’. Now click ‘Run Only’. We’re not going to save that query, although we can save data mines for future reference. In this case, we’ve identified three clients who are self-employed. Let’s check over the list. Then we come to the template selection. It shows all the templates we’ve got in the system. Most of the templates we see here come with the software. Of course, we can create our own as well. To do that, simply click on ‘Create New Template’ in the top right-hand corner, which opens a new document in Microsoft Word. We use Microsoft Word because most people are familiar with it. It has so many formatting options that we don’t need to re-invent the wheel and build our own formatting system. Let’s insert a merge field. Click this dropdown menu, and select from the list. We’ve put the client name into a template. To see how that’s shaping-up, click ‘Preview Results’. The ‘Step’ buttons show each record. If we click through, the program identifies each record in the merge. Let’s focus on this one. We’ll add in other useful mail merge fields, the UTR Number and their Client Code. Now we can start the body of the letter. Let’s say, ‘Your Tax Return needs preparing. Could you please send or bring in your receipts, invoices and other information’. We can also put in other fields from last year’s or this-year’s tax return. There are many options in this list, including: ‘Total_Tax_Previous_Year’. Let’s say ‘last year your tax liability was…’ and add that. We can add other items, such as ‘payments on account’, ‘total self-employed business income’ lots of stuff! Do have a look through the list, and create letters as you wish. So how do we get these letters to the client? We can save documents individually and store them in the client folder. We can also print them off as separate documents. To edit them individually, click this button. We also have the email facility. Merge to Email will allow us to send these letters as emails. We need an email client do this, such as Outlook, or the default application on your system. We’ll type in a subject line, Click ‘OK’. The system has now sent letters to individual clients. The letter will be in the text of the email, not sent as an attachment. Some of our customers have told us that they use this function to inform clients when they’ve their updated terms and conditions of trading, business, or services. We could create a template letter like this, address it to clients individually, and send to every client in the database using their email address. Note, this facility uses email addresses stored in the Client Hub, so ensure that your clients’ email addresses are up-to-date in there. Let’s save it as an example template letter. Now that’s saved. We can now exit Word, and import that template into TaxCalc for future use. We’ll call it ‘Tax Return 2018’. We can store it in a specific Category, in this case, Engagement Letters. We can save that for future reference. Most of the time we’re creating a mail merge for a particular purpose, and don’t need to save it. That’s the mail merge section. Let’s have a look at the Client Questionnaire section. Click ‘Create Client Questionnaire’ on the left. We’ll skip that step and carry on. We’re asked which tax year we wish to request data for. At present we are requesting data for 16/17. Obviously the software is updated with future tax years. We recommend ticking all three boxes to get the most out the system database including expected incomes, outgoings, reliefs, as well as prior year values and your practice information. We can save the questionnaires as one file, or separate files. We recommend separate files. Select where in the file system the documents will save, then we can select specific clients. If we want to select only a few clients this is relevant to, select and add them to the right-hand list. Now we can add a cover letter. We have a questionnaire cover letter shipped with the software. Add that in. Then we have a summary, requesting information for 16/17. Include all this information, and it’ll save in ‘My Documents’. Let’s go in and create those there. We’re now taking the information from the last-year’s tax return and creating the cover letters to generate our questionnaire. Looking in the file system, we can see our documents, and open one in Microsoft Word. Here we have the cover letter, addressed and personalised for the client, and the checklist. It’s also included any schedules, in this case a self-employment. If there are things like pensions, or assets such as dividends, shares held, bank account interest, it would ask for updates of that information. All that goes into the checklist. The program automatically identifies the areas to be requested again from the client. That’s the mail merge and questionnaire section. Hopefully this has been useful to you. If you have any questions, or want to find out more, please go to our Knowledge Base or contact our support team. Thank you for watching this TaxCalc training video. If you’d like to see more videos in the series, click the links above or below. Thanks again.

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