AI doing tax - what does this mean?

When OpenAI released the latest version of their large language model, GPT-4, they demonstrated how it can now accurately calculate tax liability and explain the calculations to your clients. What does this mean for our profession? Asks ICB CEO, Ami Copeland

Yikes. March was the month that OpenAI's president and co-founder, Greg Brockman, showed us how they're disrupting the future of tax work and frankly every job that humans do now.

The OpenAI demo that appeared to show tax doesn't have to be taxing.

Greg Brockman, OpenAI president and co-founder, showing how GPT-4 can calculate a tax return.

In a live stream to millions of viewers on 12 March, the people behind the AI language model Chat GPT that we wrote about in February, demonstrated how their latest release, GPT-4, can calculate a tax return. The key advance being that you can now paste in images or massive amounts of text, such as the US Tax Code used in their live demo, and then with a serious of prompts put it to work for you.

Getting AI to work for bookkeepers

Clearly to get the most out of AI you first of all need to know how to ask it the right questions and then, more importantly, you need the expertise to be able to check its answers. OpenAI warn that even their latest release 'still has many known limitations that we are working to address, such as social biases, hallucinations, and adversarial prompts.'

But a time-saving tool, auto-generative systems like GPT-4 most certainly will be. Perhaps they provide the opportunity for accountants to #BeMoreBookkeeper by generating an accessible explanation about tax returns and calculations in a way that doesn't make a client's eyes glaze over? Perhaps this could provide a path forward for bookkeepers who want to provide more of the services that have traditionally been the reserve of accountants.

Let's hope AI can be the informed and indefatigable wingman or woman we need to get where we want to be and that, in the not too distant future, it leads to better collaboration and cross-profession partnering, not less!

Bookkeepers can harness the power of AI

Open AI president and co-founder Greg Brockman seems genuinely wowed by the technology in the livestream saying, as it calculates a couple's tax liability, 'honestly, every time it does it, it's amazing.'

"This is the place where you just get turbocharged by these AIs. It is fundamentally about amplifying what every person is able to do", Greg Brockman, OpenAI president and co-founder

It remains to be seen how accurate GPT-4's tax ability is, or how quickly we'll see this functionality embedded into accounting apps we already know and love, but whichever way you look at it this is a pretty significant development for our profession.

Developers will need the expert knowledge of professional bookkeepers to keep these tools in check, and business owners will need your human-touch, ethical integrity and accountability to help them embrace what's coming.

Just today Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and other high-profile tech leaders, have published an open letter calling for 'AI labs to immediately pause for at least six months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4' in what is a thrilling, or perhaps chilling, new development in the AI story.