The Business Guides is excited to debut SmartVault for the 2021 Tax Season!
Once you have accepted your SmartVault invitation and created your user account, you may use the following link, or the top-level menu link above for "Client Portal" to log into your SmartVault account. The logo for The Business Guides tells you you're in the right place.
Check out this 3-minute video and see what you can do with SmartVault!
View/print the one-pager of Step-by-Step Instructions we created for our clients
on how to use SmartVault this tax season
Download the free PDF reader, Adobe Acrobat Reader
We’ll add you to The Business Guides' SmartVault account as a guest and you’ll need to activate your user account to get started. With one user account, and within one online portal, you can access the vaults for your household and your business(es).
Note: We suggest adding firstname.lastname@example.org to your address contact book to increase the changes that your SmartVault invitation and other tax-time emails from The Business Guides are properly delivered to your email inbox. Here is more information on whitelisting SmartVault emails in popular email providers.
If you haven't received your invitation email by Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, check your folders for Updates, Promotions, Spam, etc. Then contact us if you (or your spouse or business partner) can't find the email.
1. Activate Your Account. You’ll receive an emailed invitation to activate your account from an employee of The Business Guides (likely Shelly Randall) via SmartVault. The subject line will be: Tax Portal Invitation from The Business Guides (Sign up for SmartVault). We will send the invitation to the primary email address we have on file for your household or your business (in many cases, this will be the same email address, but not always). If you are a sole proprietor or retired business owner without a separate business entity, you will receive just one email invitation. For each separate business, you will receive a separate "Click to activate access" email for that business's vault. To be clear, you will only create one user account, no matter how many vaults you have access to.
Click the SmartVault "Activation Link" in the first "Invitation" email. Your email will prefill. Enter your phone number and create a password. Note that your password must contain AT LEAST ONE of these four elements: uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number and punctuation. (If you don't include all four elements, this may be the reason you cannot activate your account. Look for all green bars under your password for verification.)
The initial authentication code will be sent to your email, not your phone (but later you can set up two-factor verification via text to this phone number -- see the Security section further down on this page). Click "Create My User." Here is a step-by-step explanation with a screenshot.
2. Sign in to SmartVault. Go to my.smartvault.com or thebusinessguides.smartvault.com. Enter your email address and the password you created when you activated your account. Click "Sign In." (Note: If you forget your password, click "Can’t sign in?" and you’ll receive a password re-set email.) Here is a step-by-step explanation with a screenshot. To learn more about setting up Two-Factor Authentication to protect your SmartVault user account, click here to view the content below.
3. Download Documents. In your SmartVault account, navigate to the folder (most likely Client Organizer) containing the files you’d like to download. Click on a PDF to view it in your browser. Click "Download" if you’d like to download the document to your computer. Click "Back" to close the preview window. Here is a step-by-step explanation with screenshots.
4. Upload Documents. Navigate to the folder (most likely Client Tax Data) where you would like to upload your files. Click the blue "Upload file" button. Drag & drop the document(s) into the window or browse for the file(s) on your computer. You can select multiple documents for uploading at one time. Click "Save," then close ("X" out) the successful upload notification box. The Business Guides will be automatically be notified that you’ve added a document to your folder. Here is a step-by-step explanation with screenshots.
In your SmartVault Portal, you'll see any vaults you have access to, typically your household and your business(es) (if a separate entity like a Partnership or S-Corp), plus a "Public Documents - Helpful Resources" vault containing general helpful information for all our clients. Click "View Files and Folders" in the left-hand navigation menu to view your vaults.
Within each vault, there will be folders for the tax years. The current relevant folder is "TY21" for Tax Year 2021. Within that folder, you will see these three folders:
❖ Client Organizer - Holds a PDF of your household's personalized Tax Organizer and the Individual Questionnaire. For businesses, holds the Business Checklist. A signed Questionnaire or Checklist must be submitted to our office before we begin your tax preparation. For all clients, this folder holds the 2021 Introduction & Engagement Letter with pricing and due dates.
❖ Client Tax Data - Holds all the source documents you will upload, or have ever uploaded.
❖ Client Tax Returns - Holds your copy of your tax return as well as the IRS acceptance letter once it has been filed.
View this 1-page handout for step-by-step instructions on submitting your Tax Year 2021 data to The Business Guides via SmartVault.
One of SmartVault's most useful features is the Shortcuts bar—located at the top of your screen when you're logged into your portal—for adding shortcuts to your favorite folders. We recommend doing this for your upload folders for your household and your business(es).
Simply click "+ Add shortcuts" and navigate through the folder tree to select one of your Client Tax Data folders. Then rename it, something like "ABC Co. Tax Data" or "Household Dox" vs. "Business Dox." This will avoid tax data for one entity going into the other's folder. Here is a step-by-step explanation with screenshots on how to set up Shortcuts.
You can print out your personalized tax organizer with prior year numbers, complete it, and scan it back to SmartVault, along with your electronic tax documents. Alternatively, you can print your organizer and return it and your paper tax forms in one envelope to our office. If you don't have a printer or scanner, you can do everything electronically, using our fillable PDF forms and uploading clear photos of your tax documents.
Use the organizer as a guide for collecting your tax documents, marshaling your Schedule C, E or F expenses, and alerting us to any changes in your address, dependents, etc. It is not required that you submit the organizer, but you are welcome to do so, either by scanning and uploading it to your Client Tax Data folder, or delivering it to our Uptown office.
Note: If you have a sole proprietorship or a rental, we ask that you provide a typed spreadsheet or summary, or fill out the organizer pages for your Schedule C, E or F. Neatly handwritten numbers are fine, or you can find fillable PDFs of these Schedules in SmartVault's "Public Documents" folder.
SmartVault works with any TWAIN-compatible scanner (most modern scanners are TWAIN). Recommended settings are 300 DPI, black and white.
❖ Keep all pages of a multi-page document together.
❖ We'd prefer one multi-page PDF file of your multiple documents, scanned all at one go; it is not necessary to separate out and rename each document. (Although it's OK if you upload separate files, and we really appreciate you naming them something that describes their contents, like "Jim's W-2" or "Ed Jones 1099".)
❖ Save documents as PDF or TIFF only.
❖ Source document files should be deskewed, if this option is available on your scanner.
❖ Please do not use the despeckle function.
As a rule, if you are having trouble reading a document; we will also have difficulties! Please adjust your scanner settings and rescan.
If you are taking pictures of tax documents with your phone or tablet, know that our biggest headache is when photos are too small or low-resolution to enlarge sufficiently to read the tiny numbers. Best practice is to upload your photos to SmartVault, then view them on a big screen or monitor (not your phone screen) and zoom in to ensure all the numbers are clear and readable.
Reach out to our team if you are unsure of the best way to get us your tax documents, and we will make a plan!
There is a SmartVault app for iPads and iPhones, or you can open SmartVault in your Apple or Android browser (Chrome is the recommended browser). Then you can take pictures or scans of your documents, and browse your mobile device for existing documents to upload.
Note: The "File Exchange" view is truncated and can be confusing in the mobile interface, since you can't tell which tax year you're looking at. We recommend navigating to your upload folders via "View Files and Folders" instead, and/or creating a "Shortcut" to your most-used folders and renaming them uniquely (here's how).
SmartVault is built with a security-first mindset. Learn more.
Here are some simple security steps that every SmartVault user should employ:
❖ Protect your session by signing out of the service when not in use.
❖ Use good password practices, such as:
- Using a strong password (lowercase, uppercase, numbers, symbols, etc.).
- Changing your password every 90 days.
- Not using the same password you use at other sites or other computers.
- Not sharing your password with anyone, including employees of SmartVault or The Business Guides.
You may enable Two-Factor Authentication on your SmartVault user account. Then if someone attempts to sign in to your SmartVault Portal from an unrecognized device or web browser, SmartVault will send you a verification code. The email address you use to log in to SmartVault is the default verification method. But you can change it to text/SMS or an automated call. View the Two-Factor Authentication set-up instructions.
The Business Guides prepares and files your S Corp, Partnership, and Personal returns together. We require complete personal data and data for all your business entities to be in our office (or in your SmartVault portal -- and you must let us know you're done!) before we begin to prepare your tax returns.
1/14/22 issue: Your new tax portal (SmartVault) - coming next week!
1/27/22 issue: Skip the déjà vu and activate your SmartVault account
2/10/22 issue: Love these SmartVault top tips
3/9/22 issue: March 15th tax data deadline & SmartVault demo webinar
Q: I have a separate business entity, but I can't find my second activation email. I only see one email from The Business Guides' Shelly Randall via email@example.com.
A: If you're seeing one email, but not the other, it's possible that gmail stacked them so they look like one email. You have to open the first one and then scroll down to see the second. And you must click the links in each email to activate your two vaults (for household and business).
Q: How can my spouse, business partner, or bookkeeper view or upload to my tax portal?
A: The ability to have multiple log-ins to one vault is a big benefit of SmartVault. You can request that we provide access to someone else at the vault level. Provide their email address and let us know if they should have access to your household vault, or the business vault, or both. We will send them an invitation to create their own SmartVault user account. To protect your security, we will verify any request to add an email address that is not already in our records by speaking with you personally.
Q: How do I let you know I'm DONE in SmartVault and my tax data is ready for review?
A: Good question! We don't know you're DONE until you let us know. Here's how: When you have uploaded all the data we need to prepare your business or personal tax return, navigate to that vault's Client Tax Data folder and upload a new document or image file with the file name "DONE" or "I'm Done" (capitalization doesn't matter). The word "done" is searchable in our upload reports. You must tell us you are DONE with each one of your vaults before we will consider your data ready for review. A member of The Business Guides team will email you directly within 2 business days to confirm receipt of your DONE upload. Find more detailed instructions in the Public Documents folder in SmartVault. (Alternatively, you may email info [at] thebusinessguides and let know you're done uploading all your business and personal tax data.)
Q: What do I do if the emailed activation code arrives in my inbox after the 10 minutes are up, and it has expired?
A: This is an email service provider issue, and one we have no control over. The workaround is to ask us to invite you to SmartVault with an alternate email address, then once you've activated your account, you can change the email address back in your settings, if you like. If you have laggy email, it's also important to adjust your settings to send the two-factor authentication codes to a phone via text or call. Here are the instructions to do so.
???: What's your SmartVault question? Email Education Director Shelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our website contact form.