Date posted: 12/09/2019 6 min read

Moving with the times: Future-proofing tax professionals & investigations

As the public service department tasked with advising the New Zealand government on tax policy and payments, Inland Revenue oversees tax investigation across all sectors and is poised to continue its role despite the changing nature of tax investigations.

In brief

  • The potential power of advanced tax technology and what this means for small businesses and large enterprises alike
  • Tax professionals are essential to the successful implementation of new technology
  • How tax professionals can use technology to their advantage in the changing workforce

The untapped power of tax technology

Technology is disrupting industries across the world and tax administration is certainly no exception.

For years, Inland Revenue investigators have been making sense of large volumes of data to identify trends in areas such as taxpayers’ filing and payment behavior. The recent upgrade to the tax system as part of Inland Revenue’s transformation project has the potential to supercharge this activity.

Automated algorithms are being built into new Inland Revenue systems as software tracks activity, targets issues and then generates correspondence based on those findings. This results in less invasive interactions, decreased costs, and more efficient processing that empowers both taxpayers and agents.

Morris says the technology is performing tasks at a much faster rate than ever before and is organising the data in such a way that allows Inland Revenue to make decisions more efficiently. 

“It’s a lot more effective than the ‘Ctrl F’ keyword search that many of our compliance officers will remember using in the past,” Morris says.

By enabling the redesign of core systems and processes, this groundbreaking technology has changed the way Inland Revenue does business, and Morris believes the potential for improvement across the tax profession is high.

Maintaining the human element

While technology is providing new ways of connecting with taxpayers and helping to reduce some of the admin burden, Morris asserts that financial professionals are integral to the successful use of this technology. He argues that technology can support financial professionals through data and analytics, but maintaining the human element is critical.

“Despite all the automation and technology, the role of tax professionals as our strategic partners remains a vital one. Our people will continue to make all the decisions about when to open a case for investigation and how to handle the data and insights that are produced,” Morris says.

Future-proofing the tax professional

As businesses are looking for professionals to add value beyond a technical knowledge of tax, new skillsets are emerging as ‘must haves’ to better service clients.  

Technology and data analytics skills have become a requirement of tax professionals. To put this in perspective, a PwC report, The Tax Professional of the Future, found 67% of all jobs are data analytics enabled and 23% are data science based.1  Tax professionals need to understand how to use new technologies and draw out insights to solve real world problems.

“Despite all the automation and technology, the role of tax professionals as our strategic partners remains a vital one.”
Tony Morris Segment Lead for Inland Revenue

Demand for tax professionals with the ability to partner with the business is also rising. Understanding the challenges business face and how to address them, as well as using data to support internal business decisions allows tax professionals to be viewed as trusted advisors.

Creative problem solving, critical thinking and strong communication skills are being increasingly sought after to aid businesses navigate complex issues. The same PwC report found that over 75% of CEOs agree it’s difficult to find recruits with sufficient creativity and innovation skills.2

1 The Tax Professional of the Future
2 Ibid