Right now, many accounting firms are holding internal debates as to whether they should disclose to clients if they outsource income tax return preparation to India. In fact, the AICPA has appointed a task force to study the matter.
It was even the subject of last week's poll on WebCPA. The question was how many clients asked about whether the firm outsources tax prep. The overwhelming answer, at the time I was writing this column, was zero. That seems to indicate that outsourcing is not now an outspoken concern of clients or, of course, clients don't even suspect that their accounting firm could be outsourcing tax returns.
Next year, I believe that outsourcing will not be an issue at all for firms. Here are two current indications why I think that will be the case. One is the prediction by Roman Kepczyk, of Phoenix-based InfoTech Partners, that outsourcing will make everyone a winner. He opines that firms, which use outsourcing, will be able to provide services at a lower cost and those choosing not to outsource will benefit from marketing the "All-American accounting team" message.
The second sign is that it is reported online lender, E-Loan, is giving consumers a choice on loan applications. They can have their application processed by workers in either America or India. It is pointed out that going the U.S. route might mean up to a two-day delay in getting an answer on a loan.
What is so nice is that the choice is up to the user who is told exactly the benefit that they are going to get if they agree to foreign processing of the loan application.
For the next tax season, I expect total honesty along with transparency. Firms will state whether or not they outsource. Those that do will leave the choice up to the client. The client can either choose to pay a higher price for a "Made in the USA" tax return or take advantage of the lower-cost "Foreign-Assembled, Domestic Reviewed" tax return. No matter what, all accounting firms will stand behind their returns, assuring their clients that they are all personally reviewed and checked by the firm's resident tax experts.
Outsourcing is an economic fact of life and the accounting profession is being caught up in it, as well. Like any other significant change, the initial adoption is awkward, but that will not last and the profession will quickly reach a comfort level with outsourcing. However, don't worry, something else will replace it as the next burning issue for the profession.
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