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Some Tax and Accounting Pros Cautious About Use of AI

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jun 15, 2023

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As the adding machine, the personal computer and the internet all became valuable and indispensable tools for the practice of accounting, so, too, might artificial intelligence, Accounting Today reported. But some practitioners are wary about using it.

"Many manual tasks will be automated, including securing signatures, archiving documents and inputting form data," said John Dundon, president of Taxpayer Advocacy Services in Englewood, Colo.

"AI-powered tools could easily categorize and analyze transactions, identify deductible expenses, detect anomalies and simplify complex tax calculations," said Cindy Ostrager, a CPA and partner at CohnReznick in New York.

Manasa Nadig, an enrolled agent and owner at MN Tax and Business Services, and a partner at Harris Nadig in Canton, Mich., said that she has been looking at AI as a tool for her practice for tasks outside of tax preparation and planning. "AI can assist tax professionals with research and workflow,” she said, but, she added, "I'm not sure yet if AI can take over human knowledge and experience as far as tax advisory goes."

Such lack of confidence limits AI to support work for now.

“It's too soon to just use it as a replacement for support staff [except for] extremely simple projects [and] even then need to keep your eyes on it,” said Brian Stoner, a CPA in Burbank, Calif. “Think of it as a recent college grad that has no work experience."

"A good tax professional with a good tax software package will add value that clients will continue to value," said Phyllis Jo Kubey, an enrolled agent in New York.

One accountant remains skeptical.

"I've seen articles about AI, and some of it is pretty scary," said Mary Kay Foss, a CPA in Walnut Creek, Calif. "You may have seen articles indicating that AI [couldn't] pass the CPA exam and that teachers are afraid that all future assigned essays will be written by AI."  (Accounting Today noted that a recent version of ChatGPT passed a practice CPA exam after failing the first one.)

Foss is concerned about AI’s use in tax preparation and the effect on the accounting profession’s reputation.

"People tend to be lazy and try to get a bargain on goods and services. I can definitely see a quick and dirty tax prep service based on AI rather than studying the tax law," she said. "I'm afraid that AI may tend to give tax preparation a bad name and lower the public perception of what we do."

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