Artificial Intelligence (AI) is redefining how entire industries operate. Once only a buzzword, AI now has real-world business applications that can’t be ignored without competitive consequences.
SurePrep solutions have always been aligned with the advancement of tax technology. The partnerships we’ve forged with our customers help drive this constant evolution. Learn how SurePrep is delivering cutting-edge, AI-powered automation to the tax and accounting industry.
A dedicated Innovation Team and solid basis in data
SurePrep has a dedicated Innovation Team whose only focus is finding ways to advance software capabilities in support of our customers. The Innovation Team’s measured, creative approach toward AI application is enabled by more than 10 years of anonymized data from our own staff, which has given SurePrep a significant advantage in its AI development. Data is the backbone of Machine Learning (ML), and the Innovation Team continues to build upon this foundation as it trains AI for use in SurePrep solutions.
What this technology means for SurePrep customers
Efficiency has taken on a new level of importance for tax and accounting firms. They want technology that streamlines workflows and helps accountants by performing repetitive tasks. Today, SurePrep customers enjoy the benefits of AI, ML, and automation across several solutions.
The most effective technology is not always easily visible to the user (i.e., it just works as expected). SurePrep technology delivers this level of advanced user experience. From 1040SCAN to SPbinder to TaxCaddy, SurePrep customers can elevate their firm’s performance with user-friendly, AI-powered solutions.
1040SCAN is the industry-leading tax preparation automation software, automating 4–7 times as many documents as alternatives. SurePrep customers eliminate more data entry for their preparers than any other scan-and-populate solution on the market. Here’s what AI looks like in 1040SCAN:
Enhanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR): OCR uses Computer Vision (CV) to read letters, numbers, and symbols and convert them into data. 1040SCAN’s OCR extracts data from standard tax documents and exports that data to tax software. SurePrep’s application of ML to OCR is currently contributing to 1040SCAN recognizing more documents for auto-verification.
Auto-Verification: 1040SCAN’s patented, AI-powered technology auto-verifies OCR data for 65% of standard documents. This percentage is expected to increase over time. With AI, dynamic templates can make more non-standard documents compatible with OCR. In 2022, Enhanced Verification was released, using ML to establish rational thresholds for expected values (i.e., the OCR learns to catch its own mistakes before humans need to intervene).
Do It Like Last Year (DILLY): DILLY uses CV and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to recognize documents, even if they change. DILLY can recognize a tax document from previous years, remember the preparer’s past actions, and preemptively reference the correct field. After one tax season, DILLY compiles enough information to begin performing useful tasks, becoming more responsive and intuitive as time goes on.
Did you know? Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the ability for a computer to recognize patterns in text and understand how different areas of text relate to each other. The most well-known NLP tool today is OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
SPbinder is the most productive tax workpaper software available, minimizing review time by equipping preparers and reviewers with many user-friendly features. SurePrep customers are able to increase profitability by reducing review time for managers and partners through detailed workpaper preparation at the staff level. Here’s what AI looks like in SPbinder:
Auto-Indexing: In conjunction with 1040SCAN, SPbinder automatically organizes workpapers into a standardized index that follows the flow of the tax return. SPbinder’s Index Tree consists of folders, proforma’d placeholders, and documents. In the past, SPbinder could only recognize standard documents, which are documents with consistent layouts (e.g., W-2s). But with AI, SPbinder will recognize an increasing scope of non-standard documents, which are documents that have varied layouts or are completely unique (e.g., a custom receipt).
K-1 Reclass: SPbinder’s AI-powered K-1 Reclass feature makes it easy for preparers to organize supplemental info. Preparers can assign amounts to the correct income and expense categories using drop-down menus. AI pre-populates the menus with suggestions, which means preparers may only need to glance through and confirm. Unlike DILLY, this AI engine is continuously learning ways to reclass as it observes human actions and is able to make suggestions even where no prior-year data exists.
TaxCaddy is the ultimate 1040 taxpayer collaboration platform. SurePrep customers are able to reduce workload compression by getting access to taxpayer documents earlier in the tax season. Taxpayers and firms enjoy the modern conveniences of TaxCaddy’s native iOS and Android mobile apps, mobile photo-scanning, e-signatures, and automated document retrieval.
Prospective enhancements: The Innovation Team is currently exploring TaxCaddy’s potential for AI automation to further simplify the taxpayer experience (e.g., auto-categorization and bulk upload capability). Bringing tested and proven AI automation from SPbinder to TaxCaddy is one option under consideration for enhancement.
The future of technology for accountants
The rise of AI has sparked speculation about the utility of many professions. For accounting professionals, AI is significantly reducing the time-consuming, manual, repetitive tasks that have hurt productivity and morale for years.
A new generation of accountants will be able to focus on creative problem-solving, extending firm services, and building client relationships. The time saved through AI-powered technology can act as a rejuvenating force for the tax and accounting industry—and empower firms that embrace change to succeed on multiple fronts.