PKF Kerikeri

Could a robot do your taxes?

If you followed the TVNZ broadcast of ‘What’s Next?’ earlier this year, you’d have caught a glimpse of what New Zealand could potentially look like in 2037. The first episode was about technology and how it will take our jobs away. Apparently robots will chew up 46 per cent of existing jobs within 20 years and poor old accountants, for example, will see their numbers slashed from 17,669 to 19. Which begs the question, how?

With the advancement of accounting software and automation of government bodies such as IRD, a lot of accounting has become systematic and robotic. The savvy business owner is now looking after their own accounting needs (through the likes of Xero) and can determine their net profit, asset position and cash balance at the click of a mouse.

So will accountants be out of a job?

The answer is no. Any accounting program is only as good as the information that is put into it and as the old saying goes, “rubbish in, rubbish out!” If a transaction isn’t treated correctly it will skew the results. Unfortunately there is no big encyclopaedia of accounting know-how that you can read on the day you decide to be self-employed. Knowing the difference between what is or isn’t tax deductible can save you money. Or it may be as simple as accessing the right software, paying the right price for it, and getting the right training so you can manage it yourself.

At PKF, we have always been passionate about working with our clients and sharing our knowledge through our coaching procedures.  We are currently developing a new series of Xero training seminars which will be launched in the second half of the year. If you have any suggestions for these, we welcome your input. 

The future of accounting is definitely changing as we move away from preparing financial statements and tax returns to business development and mentoring. The conversation has changed from how much tax you have to pay, to where you are going to be in five years’ time and how you are you going to get there. When you can have that conversation with a robot then we’ll have something to worry about.