#TechTips – Compliance Lives!

By Jonathan Rivlin, CPA

You know you’ve been around for a while when the stuff you were taught in school is later found to be incorrect. Case in point, Pluto is not a planet. My very educated mother just served us noodles, instead of nine pizzas. Some people take offense to this; as if Pluto, an object of impossible distance, an object that had existed for most of human history without human awareness of it, could know of its own demotion, let alone care.

From an accounting point of view, the concept of conservativism, once taught as one of the pillars of our profession’s conceptual framework has also been found to be outmoded. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but if you have strong opinions on this, please use the email below to share your thoughts!

One thing that hasn’t been outmoded, is the concept of professional skepticism.

To that end, I’d like to apply this towards those endless barrage of articles that spell the end of compliance at the hands of CAS.

Last year, in the ‘before times’, that oldest established granddaddy of publications, the Journal of Accountancy, published a survey that made statements that clients didn’t value compliance and the future of accounting lay in the cloud.

Now if you’ve been following these posts for the past 2 years, you’ll know that we have walked the bleeding edge of cloud technology in our firm, but there is no way that our clients don’t care about compliance. I don’t know about your clients, but my clients absolutely care about keeping their nose clean and see me as their primary means of doing that. Accountant as kleenex, as it were.

I don’t mean to besmirch the cloud. Bank feeds, when they work (that’s a future post), are a game changer, but they, and AI and the like are not the death knell of compliance. As long as we have a Congress that likes to change the tax laws, the laws of thermodynamics state that accountants will be the counter force to the inevitable entropy of our clients’ supporting documentation. (I may have fudged that last one; physics wasn’t my thing.)

What I never understood is why we have to have one thing over another, why we have to look for the silver bullet that cures everything. We don’t live in that world, any more than we live in a world where people don’t care about complying with the tax laws. People actually do care about complying with the laws. While you get a few that do it for altruistic and selfless reasons, most care because they just want to go along and get along without the government giving them any grief.

And also, the cloud is a useful tool to assist with compliance.

The professional skepticism of our training should see this false dichotomy for what it is.

Don’t be cowed into thinking that tax work is going away – it most definitely ain’t.

And also, the cloud can help take some of the burden out of compliance work.

One last thing, the acronym, CAS – client accounting services is the standard term. I prefer ‘cloud accounting services’ as it seems more accurate and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) to refer to ‘client accounting services’. Call me a rebel – now that conservatism is out, we can stretch a little!

We’d like to hear from you! Please submit your own tech tips to us! We will award a free subscription to The Tax Book to the person who submits the best tip. Please submit your tips to this email address: techtips@msatp.org

Thanks, and catch you next time!