Grant Thornton has market-leading experience in automation, including Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and cognitive automation. We combine our deep tax technical, tax department functional knowledge, and automation experience to deliver tax-tailored solutions with measurable benefits to your staff, your customers and your bottom line.
Automation – Tax-focused
Across the board, automation reduces costs and enhances speed, accuracy, availability and auditability of collecting, processing and submitting data.
These enhancements translate to additional tangible benefits in the form of increased employee satisfaction, including an increase in time tax department employees spend on value-adding activities and service improvements from the department to the organization.
There are different levels of automation:
RPA is built on structured data and is business-rules driven. It automates processes, without changing them, by deploying bots to collect structured data and then to populate forms or software. Because RPA leverages existing data and processes it can typically be deployed quickly within an organization or department, and at low cost.
Cognitive automation leverages structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. The technology is asked to recognize voice, images, fuzzy logic and other unstructured data, which makes it almost human like. Cognitive automation is complex, requires highly mature business rules, and requires significantly more resources and time to deploy.
“RPA lays the foundation for the tax department of the future. The technology leveraged against the department’s processes automates existing activities, freeing tax professionals to reinvent themselves into value-added business partners for their organizations.”
— Carli McClure, Tax Automation Services LeaderOpportunity
RPA holds the greatest opportunity for most organizations in the near term. While many departments can benefit from the savings, speed and quality that RPA can bring, tax may be the most obvious and is often the primary recommendation as a starting point for an organization’s automation journey.
Typical Tax RPA Candidates
For tax functions seeking RPA opportunities, below is the starting point for identification of automation value in your organization:
- Labor Intensive Process — The process is labor intensive with repetitive tasks.
- Manual Process — The process is completely manual or has only minor automation capabilities.
- Well Documented — Process maps and desktop user guides document the details of the process at the screen and keystroke level.
- Defined Business Rules — The business rules are well documented, understood, and consistently exercised by all of the humans currently performing the functions.
- Business Exceptions — The exceptions in the process are well understood, documented and have appropriate resolution and escalation procedures.
- Structured Digital Data — All data involved in the process (inputs and outputs) have a well understood structure and accessible in a digital format.
- Systems — The systems and applications are stable, proven and have a high level or availability.
Overall, there are key processes within the tax function that lend to RPA including, but not limited to the gathering and validating of data, running reports, calculating adjustments, populating workpapers and returns, as well as the printing and filing of returns.
A few more specific examples as to how RPA may benefit your tax function include:
- Tax Provision
In RPA bots connect to data source systems and create an export file of trial balance, state apportionment and other data needed for provision preparation. Bots can also cleanse the data against written business rules, and populate fields within provision software. Further, bots can collect the data from provision software and workpapers, and then feed business intelligence and visualization tools, making analytics less manual and much easier.
- Income Tax
RPA can create the filings not supported by compliance software vendors by collecting, inputting and transferring data from the source to model to fields within the tax form PDF. In this instance, a bot can save, prepare file packages and notify human reviewers.
- Indirect Tax
A bot build can perform a necessary and time consuming reconciliation previously completed by a staff accountant. RPA can confirm the taxes collected in data files match the taxes that are being paid on returns. This allows the human effort to focus on the validation of deviations and a fast confirmation that any deviation is known and expected (i.e., tax was collected for a state but the return is not due in the current month).
Additionally, RPA can be leveraged to collect and store foreign compliance data and audits.
*Average RPA potential is the percent of manual processes that can be automated using RPA
Delivering Tax RPA
We help organizations with tax-focused RPA solutions. A key differentiator in our offering is an alliance with a Certified RPA partner with proven, global process automation success. This alliance enhances Grant Thornton’s experience in process automation strategies, enterprise PMO capabilities, and process improvement across function domains, as the organization is a leading technology research and advisory firm.
A second differentiator is our holistic approach. While RPA can be deployed quickly and at a low cost, it does require a well-thought-out plan in order to ensure program success. This is especially true for a tax department deploying innovative technology for the first time.
Tax Automation Services Leader
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This document supports Grant Thornton LLP’s marketing of professional services and is not written tax advice directed at the particular facts and circumstances of any person. If you are interested in the subject of this document, we encourage you to contact us or an independent tax adviser to discuss the potential application to your particular situation. Nothing herein shall be construed as imposing a limitation on any person from disclosing the tax treatment or tax structure of any matter addressed herein. To the extent this document may be considered to contain written tax advice, any written advice contained in, forwarded with or attached to this document is not intended by Grant Thornton LLP to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.