I, Robot

Before you read any further, go to www.WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com and type in “tax preparer.”

We’ll wait for you.

Ok, now that you’re back, let’s talk.

I realize you’re not just a “tax preparer.” You’re a tax business owner. That’s different, yes. But if your principal product is tax preparation, you’re in danger.

We don’t know when the robots will come for you. Five years? Ten? But if it’s anytime sooner than when you planned on retiring, you’re in danger.

We don’t know how they’ll come from you. Will R2D2 and C3PO come chirping into your office? (Probably not, although you might wish you could replace your human staff.) Will the IRS start preparing returns for taxpayers to accept or reject? (Not likely either.)  Will automation somewhere else in the system reduce your role and your value in the process? (Now we’re talking.) But regardless of how they come, they’re coming. And that means you’re in danger.

What’s the solution? Here at TaxCoach, we say the solution is selling something more than “just” tax preparation. That way, whenever “tax prep” fades away as a viable, standalone business, you’ll have that “something else” in place. And until then, you’ll have it to wrap around your current tax prep business so you can charge higher fees and attract more clients than your current competition.

Tuesday afternoon, I hosted a webinar on “Earning Off-Season Revenue from Tax Plans” for about 560 attendees through CPAAcademy.org. (They’re a great source of continuing education programs on a ton of topics; I’ve been impressed with everything of theirs that I’ve seen.)

I told the audience up front that my real goal wasn’t just to talk about tax planning. It was to challenge the audience to reexamine the value they deliver to their clients, and how they can increase that value, both for their clients and themselves. Many of the attendees said it was an eye-opening presentation that got them thinking. Good for them – they’ll be ready for the robot invasion.

But not everyone “got it.” One attendee said “My clients expect that I will use all the tax strategies at my disposal to lower their taxes. They do not think paying extra for that is appropriate.” My response: you absolutely should use all the tax strategies at your disposal to lower their taxes! But that’s more than just “tax preparation,” and there’s a lot there that robots can’t do – at least, not yet. Draw a line between the two services and you might be surprised what those clients are willing to pay for!

Next Tuesday, July 4, marks the 241st anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence. Our nation was founded on the notion of self-reliance, self-governance, and self-rule. A lot has changed since 1776, and “change” itself is accelerating faster than at any time in history. But those ideals of self-reliance, at least, have largely remained the same. So what steps are you going to take to protect yourself from the robots?

If your income and the value of your business depends on simply recording history for your clients, you’re in trouble. You may not see that trouble on the horizon yet, but it’s coming. You can bury your head in the sand and get swept away. Or you can join us here at TaxCoach and adapt to protect yourself. It’s your call!