Increased productivity is the greatest benefit anticipated by tax professionals from widespread industry adoption of AI, with 59% prioritising this, shows a major new research report by Thomson Reuters.

‘The Future of Professionals’ report also shows that tax professionals are optimistic about AI as a solution to overcome skills shortages within the profession. One-third (33%) expect more work to be done by people without traditional tax and accounting qualifications in the next 18 months, increasing to two-thirds (69%) in five years. Combined with more automation, this has potential to reduce the volume of administrative tasks in day-to-day work, giving rise to more fulfilling work for professionals.

If tax professionals are able to get to grips with complex and challenging work earlier on in their career, this could reduce attrition as well as make the profession more appealing to prospective new recruits. The research found that 71% expect a change in how juniors are trained within tax and accounting firms and corporate tax departments over the next five years, while two-thirds (63%) believe there will be new career paths forged. As AI usage becomes more commonplace, firms will need to hire more individuals with backgrounds in computer science and maths to take full advantage of the technology.

The report found that 67% of tax professionals are motivated by producing high quality advice, as they look to illuminate the expertise of staff through advisory services. Half (47%) predict a more consultative approach to tax advice.

Thomson Reuters global head of product, accounting, tax & practice, Piritta van Rijn, said: “AI has the potential to transform the way UK tax professionals work by freeing up time for them to focus on complex and strategic aspects of their work, as well as stronger client relationships.

“Long working hours remain a challenge in the profession, and this can negatively impact professionals’ mental health. AI could significantly help address the human capital issue prevalent in many industries with advanced automation solving for over work and lack of work life balance, reducing attrition in the long term as tax and accounting firms look to expand the recruitment talent pool.”

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The report also addresses attitudes towards regulation, with 58% of tax professionals stating that the profession should self-regulate AI usage, whilst 13% believe this should fall under the Government’s purview.

The report, based on insights from 1,200 legal and tax professionals in the US, UK, Canada and Latin America, addresses attitudes towards AI and how this is expected to impact the professional landscape.