The 3 UX Principles We Used to Re-Imagine Tax Forms
Requesting user tax documentation is often a legal requirement for companies offering financial services, retail trading, or banking. This can be challenging as the legal requirements around collecting such documentation are rarely written with the end-user in mind.
At TAINA we address this challenge using intuitive design to create positive user experiences that make it possible to reduce bounce rates in onboarding flows, increase customer satisfaction scores, and receive more accurate information.
We’ve experienced really tangible benefits with this approach. In fact, we’ve seen a reduction of over 50% in time taken to complete tax documentation with our ‘No Tax Form’ customer journey. This provides an online digital workflow for requesting tax information in a way that doesn’t feel like a traditional tax form.
3 Principles Used To Design “No Tax Form” Customer Journey
Principle 1: Keep a Consistent Line of Sight
One of the more challenging aspects of traditional tax form journeys is the way that information is dispersed across the page. Certain Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms can even refer to other documents in instructional messages. For a user, this entails finding the correct reference on another resource and often results in a dramatic loss of focus on the original task.
We set ourselves the goal of not only consolidating information but applying a consistent line of sight for our users. The idea was for a user to be able to complete a tax certification journey with as little eye movement as possible. This forced us to ensure the relevant information was always provided in the correct context, reducing fatigue and frustration with some of the more complex questions.
For example, our journey starts with a pre-qualifying questionnaire which is used to establish what tax form the user is eligible to complete. As each question is answered we dynamically add the next relevant question to the screen and scroll it into the centre of the viewport, resulting in next to no eye movement and no additional clicks.
Image showing the TAINA pre-qualifying questionnaire.
In addition, throughout the platform we also include plain-English informational text which is carefully crafted to be as self-contained and as clear as possible without providing tax advice.
Detail of informational text displayed for an address field.
Principle 2: Only Show Relevant Information
Traditional tax forms, especially when based on paper workflows, often include many fields which are not relevant to a significant group of users. Furthermore, we have observed an interesting phenomenon that often the users who spend the most amount of time considering a particularly complex field are the ones who do not need to complete it. In many cases those who do need to provide such information are aware well in advance.
To solve for this, we used our pre-qualifying questionnaire to identify key user characteristics which we could use to hide irrelevant fields. For example, an individual certifier for the IRS Form W-9 need not complete the entity classifications.
For other fields, we use a collapsible “accordion” scheme to enable users to opt to see additional options. For example, to indicate that they have applied for a Tax Identification Number (TIN). This is a valid election but rare, so we didn’t want it to interfere with the primary flow of the journey.
Detail of an opened “More TIN Options” accordion.
Principle 3: Fix Issues at Source
Finally, many institutions who handle tax forms will be very aware that receiving documentation is often only the beginning of the certification journey. Information frequently contains errors or is missing supporting evidence, requiring costly back-office re-solicitation of information from the account holder.
We believe that such intervention should be very rare. The same extensive validation rules engine used by TAINA’s back-office software is used in our end-user online journeys. This means that users receive real-time validation of their forms before they even reach back-office processors.
Our rules include:
· Establishing all required fields are present and that any elections made are consistent across all documentation provided
· Cross-reference checks against books and records information
· Cross-reference checks against public datasets, such as the lists of securities on public exchanges or the IRS’ GIIN list
· Country specific format checks for fields like foreign Tax Identification Numbers (FTINs)
· Requesting supporting evidence and documentation.
At TAINA, we treat user experience innovation as one of our primary criteria of success. It has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and ultimately provides adopters of our technology with a commercial advantage in a rapidly changing world.
For more information on how our fully automated FATCA and CRS Validation platform can add value to your business, get in touch or request a demo to see it in action.