Working (and thriving) in a digital tax world
Predictions of a robotic takeover of the future of tax are giving way to a more practical reality: That automation technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) will likely augment and enhance the work of tax professionals, not replace it.
Some tax department activities—mainly those that are rules-based, involve repetitive data management, or impact the tax compliance process—may be automated. But professional judgment, intuition, communication, and advisory skills will not.
It’s important for tax professionals of the future to start preparing for this digital transformation today by understanding the disruptive technologies involved, determining their role in the digital tax department, and taking ownership of the reskilling required.
Understanding disruptive technology in the future of tax
In a recent Deloitte Australia survey of Australian tax executives,4 85 percent of respondents said they believe unprecedented change is coming to tax in the next five years. Yet when asked about their own knowledge of specific disruptive technologies, only 30 percent say they understand RPA, 28 percent understand big data, 17 percent understand AI, and 8 percent understand blockchain.
Less than half (48 percent) of respondents described themselves as tech-savvy, and only 40 percent said they know what training they need to be ready for the future of tax.
This represents a major learning opportunity about the types of technologies likely to power the tax function of the future and how to extract value from these solutions to become more effective in their jobs.
4Source: Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Australia's Future Tax Professional: The Survey, August 2018, www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/tax/articles/future-tax-professional.html.
Embracing the Power of With
Humans with machines. Data with purpose. Automation with intelligence. Scale with speed. Digital transformation in the tax department will be all about applying technology to supplement and improve current processes.
Analyzing the changing role of the tax professional
Digitally disruptive technologies and technology tax transformation may create other opportunities for tax professionals in the future of tax too. For example, as more compliance tasks are automated with RPA and AI, in-house tax professionals may be freed up to take on other value-adding roles within the organization.
A different set of skills will likely be required in the digital tax department—from project, data, and people management skills to an understanding of how to apply technology to daily tasks.