With the prevalence of rapid technological developments, tax and accounting firms are facing a plethora of choice when it comes to ‘innovative solutions’ to streamlining processes and boosting team collaboration across their practice. But those who hesitate will ultimately be competing at a commercial disadvantage to earlier technology adopters, tax advocate and senior tax trainer at TaxBanter, Robyn Jacobson cautions.
A thought leader looking to the future
Harnessing nearly 30 years of experience as an active member of the tax community, Robyn is a leading professional involved in the Victorian Professional Development Committee with The Tax Institute, the Victorian Tax Forum, Yarra Valley Tax Retreat, Noosa Tax Intensive and Private Business Tax Retreat organising committees, and is the immediate past Chair of CPA Australia’s Victorian Public Practice Committee.
Robyn is regularly involved in consultations with The Treasury and the ATO, with her focus on simplifying the complexity of tax for organisations, businesses and individuals. She has been recognised by the Women In Finance Awards 2019 as the Winner of Thought Leader of the Year. She reflects on being the Sole Director of her own training business, Cyntax Pty Ltd, before its merger with TaxBanter in 2011 as her one of her proudest career achievements to date.
She will be an integral part of The Tax Summit’s showcase interactive Q&A session, ‘Tax with 2020 Vision,’ exploring her outlook on tax reform alongside Professor Graeme Cooper of Taxation Law, University of Sydney, Ann-Maree Wolff Head of Tax at Rio Tinto and renowned current affairs journalist, Tony Jones, who will lead the discussion.
What lies ahead for technology in tax practice
Since the introduction of technology in tax, many tasks have been easily automated by systems that harness data and effectively perform tasks at scale, Robyn says. This is set to save an extensive amount of time and allow real-time reporting for value-driven change for organisations of any size.
“Whether driven by internal or external pressures, technology is a fantastic driving force to help leverage businesses and resources in an impactful way,” she says.
Robyn shares that cloud-based solutions can improve productivity that allows for people to have more engaging, efficient and interactive experiences with each other.
“I am keen to see which tools and resources may be available to us 20 years from now, and how we will engage with each other,” she adds.
The impact of AI and machine learning within tax practice
As organisations begin to adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning as part of their processes and management tools, businesses gain more flexibility to redirect their focus on tasks that require human-focused skills, Robyn explains.
“What is certain is that artificial intelligence and machine learning will continue to progress within the realms of tax,” she says. “The use of AI will inevitably affect tax practice as routine processes become automated.”
“This will free up valuable resources in firms to redirect to their talent those tasks which humans are still superior to technology in completing, such as communication and analysis.”
How to leverage data within taxation while maintaining privacy and security
In the age of big data, stakes are high when it comes to privacy, security and regulatory compliance, especially given so many authorities now rely on large scale data and secure protection to maintain trust between individuals, businesses and the government.
While the ATO is to be commended on the increased use of this data to detect non-compliance and blatant tax evasion, it is critical that the privacy and security of this data is maintained, she adds.
“The existence of online platforms such as ATO Online Services for Agents and myGov have irrevocably changed the way we interact with the government, so security and risk management is now pivotal in submitting, holding and accessing data,” Robyn says.
Robyn emphasises that trust and integrity must not be compromised in any way, and that includes hacks and data breaches. She continues to express the importance of security of data which extends to client data held by practitioners.
“The use of technology allows the government to more efficiently deliver services,” she adds. “Data protection and enforcement is a major focus of the ATO as they use new technologies to detect non-compliance , blatant tax evasion and data security. So it is imperative that firms have secure processes that protect this data and can be resistant to, or preferably prevent, hacking.”
Stephen Scheeler’s session on technology
Digital disruption, technological advancements and changes to the ‘future of work’ are just some of the high-level talking points former CEO of Facebook, Stephen Scheeler is set to cover in his keynote, including sharing his own perspective of generating maximum value for practitioners.
Having heard Stephen speak a few years ago, Robyn reveals her eagerness to listen to Stephen’s insights, and is keen to discover what he says about how practitioners can be impacted by the next phase of digital innovation.
“I am really interested to hear Stephen’s perspective on how we navigate our way through these challenges, which conversely also present countless opportunities for practitioners,” Robyn concludes.
Get ready to see Tax with 2020 Vision
Don’t miss your chance to see The Tax Summit’s showcase interactive Q&A session, ‘Tax with 2020 Vision,’ exploring Robyn’s outlook on tax reform alongside Professor Graeme Cooper of Taxation Law, University of Sydney, Ann-Maree Wolff Head of Tax at Rio Tinto and renowned current affairs journalist, Tony Jones, who will lead the discussion.
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