New CCH automation tool heralds rise of the tax robotsby
Wolters Kluwer CCH has launched an intelligent automation system for its personal tax product that automates the extraction and categorisation of tax data from client documents, potentially slashing the time spent by advisers on manual processes.
The Personal Tax Automation Robotics tool is designed to interact with Wolters Kluwer CCH’s Personal Tax product as part of an end-to-end workflow tool for clients’ personal tax affairs.
Intelligent automation combines robotic process automation (RPA) with artificial intelligence (AI), with the aim of making the workplace more efficient. RPA is a program or series of programs designed to undertake repeatable tasks on a computer that would otherwise be performed by a human. These robots can launch and operate existing applications and integrate into almost any business process conducting repetitive work – in this case, the extraction and categorisation of tax information.
The solution has been delivered via a partnership with automation specialists FD Intelligence. The firm, together with intelligent automation platform provider UiPath, design automated solutions for a range of service lines and back-office functions across accountancy and finance.
How does the personal tax tool work?
When income documents arrive via the accounting firm’s inbox or portal, the system automatically downloads the document to a secure processing centre.
Reading from single PDFs or multiple attachments, it then classifies each document, checking for income types such as employment income, bank interest, investment income, pensions or capital gains. Based on its development and training on thousands of similar documents, the tool can recognise a P11D or bank statement, for example. It can even spot information in unstructured data such as emails where a client has written a few lines about dividends, bank interest or charity donations.
The system then creates a bookmarked PDF working paper for the tax adviser.
Once it has downloaded and classified the information, the tool extracts the relevant tax data and presents it back to the tax adviser in a workflow tool for review and approval It then presents a confidence rating on each data extraction, showing that, for example, based on its training it is 99% confident the data is correct.
Tax advisers can interact with the tool, checking its work and answering any queries it may have, and it also learns from adjustments made by tax advisers to improve for the future.
The data is then validated against any appropriate business rules, after which the system opens the client’s file in Wolters Kluwer CCH Personal Tax and enters the data into their tax return ensuring existing tax sources from previous years are updated or creating new lines where necessary. Once the tax adviser has checked and approved the return, it is filed with HMRC, which can either be done by the tool or the tax adviser.
Andrew Guy, founder and CEO of FD Intelligence, told AccountingWEB he expects RPA and AI to have a major impact on the accounting profession and beyond as it becomes widely adopted over the next five years, and to be a major driver of economic growth.
“The technology has the capacity to resolve many of accountancy’s current issues around staff shortages by freeing people from repetitive tasks to get involved in more client-focused activities,” said Guy. “This is positive AI, which accelerates repetitive processes producing better results, more efficiency and greater accuracy. The biggest misconception at the moment is that AI will do away with hundreds of jobs, but it’s actually about helping people make the right decisions and do their jobs better.
“Our expectation is that 90% of the top 100 firms in the UK market will adopt this type of software in the next two years, as well as the majority of small and medium firms,” he continued.
Intelligent automation and other accounting functions
Intelligent automation solutions can run on any document across any system – Wolters Kluwer CCH Personal Tax, any document management tool or portal, or any software platform (be it cloud, hosted or on-premise).
Guy told AccountingWEB that the firm has also automated other accounting functions, including payroll processing, client onboarding, accounts production, financial reporting and audit compliance.
The Personal Tax Automation Robotics tool is available now to Wolters Kluwer CCH Personal Tax users at accounting firms that file a minimum of 500 tax returns with the product, with no upper limit to the software. You can watch a short video demonstrating the tool below.