IRS future: will Uncle Sam be a robot?

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

IRS, gig economy, automationWorking on your tax return at 1am on April 14th? Not sure if you can deduct the vet bills you paid for Fido (a real question put to me once……no sorry you can’t)? Good luck calling the IRS. Even during normal business hours. We are already seeing questions being answered by devices like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo. No tax questions yet, but can that be far off? Probably not, say experts, as the race to artificial intelligence is full on.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is currently in the works and something you may hear more about in the future. RPA deals with the use of software with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required a human to perform. RPA is something that may work its way into many aspects of tax and accounting. Will it lead to a reduction and/or replacement of the human workforce? I don’t know about you, but it seems that despite all the cutting edge technology that my awesome firm puts at my disposal, my workload is no less than it’s always been. It just helps me do more work and keep up with the ever growing complexities in the world including tax work.

Fear of automation is probably no more justified now than it was when the first factory assembly line came about. If it will help me from having to take a phone call to answer questions about deducting vet bills, so I can work on my client’s tax planning of a proposed Section 1035 exchange with partial boot in a related party transaction and with AMT issues, that’s probably a good thing.

Dale F. Jensen, CPA