A surprising number of accounting firms rely on the revolving door of tax returns for a good chunk of their revenue. But this income stream is about to take a big hit – and accountants need to start thinking about alternatives.
Look at the trends. The ATO is promising to automate 4.5 million individual tax returns by 2015. Offshore accounting firms with staff in the Philippines, Malaysia and India are undercutting the price of C returns. And there is a clear move towards auto-filling returns of all types from cloud accounting software, the ATO and SBR-enabled services.
The amount of time required to complete a return – and therefore the amount an accountant charge – will have to decrease. So what to do now?
Tax returns will never go away, and businesses will always look to minimise the amount they pay. Accountants can still play a role in advising on the most tax-effective approach. We could see tax specialists go down the path of modelling different scenarios to see which results in the least amount of tax.
We’re already seeing this applied to travel and expenses. Expense management programs such as Concur will calculate the best way to report fringe benefits (actual, 12 week or 50/50) so a business doesn’t pay a dollar more than necessary.
But accountants will need to add more strings to their bow to stay relevant. More services which either light the way forward for their clients, or relieve some of the burden in running a modern business.
On 2 April BoxFreeIT will host an event with Reckon, the Institute of Public Accountants and Saasu called theFuture of Accounting Forum. This forum will tackle the questions of what accountants need to do next – the services, the business models and the efficiencies required to make sure your firm is in top form to take on the competitive landscape of tomorrow.
The forum includes Daniel Rabie, Reckon’s strategic director, Andrew Conway, CEO of the IPA, and two accountants from progressive accounting firms who will share their strategies.
Tickets are available to attend the event in person or watch it streamed live or on demand.