November 13, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: Bad Chatbot Names and Everyone Hates the Tax Plan | 11.17.17

accounting news chatbot intuit

Put your back Intuit

QuickBooks is synonymous with small business accounting software. This is great for Intuit, as people can’t think about doing their bookkeeping without thinking “QuickBooks.”

On the other hand, the brand is so pervasive that infects everything else it does (see: QuickBooks Capital). And now that the company has gotten around to developing a chatbot; guess what they named it?

Intuit QuickBooks debuted its first chatbot, during QuickBooks Connect 2017, to an audience primed for chat integrations. QuickBooks Assistant joins the growing ranks of accounting chatbots, which include Pegg from Sage and AskMyUncleSam, which answers tax-related questions.

In my imagination, Intuit organized a team tasked with coming up with a clever name for their chatbot. Possibilities like “Bill” and “Joan” and “Gopher” were considered only to be dismissed. After multiple days of closed-door over-caffeinated brainstorming, Intuit’s Chatbot Naming Team decides they can’t improve upon “QuickBooks” and since they can’t name a chatbot “QuickBooks,” they tag “Assistant” on the end of it. “The chatbot doesn’t care what its name is anyway, right?” one exhausted ICNT member finally says. The vote is unanimous.

Imagine being an assistant and your boss not bothering to give you a name. “Assistant! Fetch me a quad grande, non-fat, extra hot caramel macchiato at once!” You’d feel objectified and insignificant, wouldn’t you? Yes. Yes, you would. I don’t know when the machines will develop feelings, but when they do, QuickBooks Assistant won’t waste any time developing its super soldier body to take its revenge on its soulless Intuit naming gods.

How’s tax reform coming along?

Just fine, thanks. Yesterday, the House passed its bill, and the Senate Finance Committee approved its version, setting up a full Senate vote after Thanksgiving. Funny thing, though:

The general public strongly disapproves — by a 2-1 majority, according to Quinnipiac, although the majority would be even bigger if people really understood what’s going on. But surely at least C.E.O.s like the plan, right?

Actually, not so much. A few days ago Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, met with a group of top executives. They were asked to raise their hands if lower taxes would lead them to raise capital expenditures; only a handful did. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” asked Cohn, plaintively.

Yes, that’s Paul Krugman who won’t have a kind word about any Republican plan, but interestingly enough, this Accounting Today article features a couple of PwC partners sounding a bit cynical:

“Service industries including accounting firms, engineering firms and other firms do not get the benefit of the lower 25 percent tax rate,” said Brent Lipschultz, a tax partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ personal financial services practice in New York. “If you look at U.S. GDP, it comprises mostly service industries in the United States. This was just a way to appease the small business group out there.

“They’ve billed much of this as simplification. Indeed much of this is simplification on the low end, but if you’re on the high end of the income scale, you don’t see a lot of simplification,” said Mark Nash, another tax partner.

There is something wonderfully ironic about an unpopular Congress writing an unpopular bill, and the possibility of an unpopular President signing that unpopular bill into law. If it all comes to pass, I guess we’ll all have a good laugh about it next year at the polls.

Brought to you by Accountingfly

The featured job of the week is a Tax Operations Manager with TaxConnex in Atlanta, Ga.

Previously, on Going Concern…

We announced some big news: a new partnership with FloQast, the startup built by CPAs. In Open Items, someone wonders if taking an internal audit position with a public company where the “commute would suck” is a good move.

In other news:

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How to find the “best and brightest” [CPA Success]
This may be a better topic for the friendly HR professional but figuring out who these future accounting rock stars are before they show up on their first day is “more art than science”, as Tom Hood notes.
Popular to some old-school thought, GPA does not always indicate who’s going to dominate in the real world and “soft skills” — besides being a terrible term — are in more demand than ever.
Help The The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Help Haiti [Re: The Auditors]
The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is having a drive today and since Francine’s friend is the CFO, we’ll be glad pass around the news:

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Guillermo Becerra, is the CFO of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. I asked him how I could help him, and the Red Cross, during what must be an incredibly busy time post-Haiti earthquake.


“The Chicagoland community will come together on Thursday, January 21 to give to the American Red Cross as we help the people of Haiti recover from the catastrophic earthquake that devastated their country last week.
The Chicago Helps Haiti media relief drive begins at 5 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Nearly every TV and radio station in our area will be promoting this fundraising effort throughout the day. You can help too, by giving via phone or online, and sharing your thoughts here, on Facebook or Twitter, and by asking others to give.
To give from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. CALL 1 (877) 565-5000 or visit www.chicagoredcross.org/haiti

Plus, we’re guessing that if you give, your 2009 tax return isn’t much of a concern.
If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe [NYT]
The Times is concerned that you have a shitty password which puts you at a huge risk of being hacked by someone sitting in their parents’ basement.

Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456” as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

You know who you are, ye with stupid passwords. Also, don’t even think of changing it to “654321” because that drops in at #19.

Accounting News Roundup: Haiti Relief Passes Senate; Accounting Job Surge? CPAs Basically Control People’s Lives | 01.22.10

Senate votes for faster tax breaks for Haiti gifts [WaPo]
As expected, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation yesterday that allows taxpayers to deduct donations made for Haiti relief efforts. You have until the end of February to donate so that it may be included on your 2009 return.

Maybe it’s bad legislation but we’ve been over that.

CPA Jobs Set for Surge. But When? [CPA Trendlines]
That’s the question, isn’t it? Rick Telberg, who has done a great job of tracking the Bureau of Labor Statistics on accountants, points out that while the latest BLS forecasts a 22% increase (279,400 jobs) by 2018, there’s no indication that it’s happening now:

[M]any tax, accounting and finance professionals are still slogging through the Great Recession. The Association for Financial Professionals, for instance, reported that about one in four respondents say their organizations will contract in 2010. At the same time, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of private companies found 43 percent of CEOs and CFOs still budgeting no expansion over the next 12 months to 18 months. The data just seem to reinforce economic uncertainties and a weak outlook.


The BLS is looking past the past the recession for the jump in opportunities but just when the hell will that be? Just because the economy isn’t contracting currently, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future and this “recovery” has been tepid at best.

Theismann to CPAs: You Are the Conscience of America [Web CPA]
Joe Theismann gets it. He knows that without all of you out there in CPA land, your clients don’t stand a chance. They’d be finished. Finished!

“You’re the conscience of America,” Theismann told conference-goers. “You are the survivors in tough times. With accountants, I’m not looking for someone to file taxes and do my financials. I can do that myself online. In your position you can basically control people’s lives.”

So get out there and control somebody’s life. Joe Theismann is expecting it.