Debunking 3 Accounting and Tax Myths
Thursday, September 28, 2023
We're sure you've heard the common refrains. Accounting and taxes are "boring," "too hard," or "just math." Maybe you even believe them and they're preventing you from seriously considering accounting as a career. But these are misconceptions or outdated understandings of the two career paths.
We’re debunking three common myths to paint a clearer picture of modern accounting and taxation so you can decide if these career paths are right for you.
1. Accountants and tax professionals must be good at math.
Maybe you’ve wondered, “Can I be an accountant if I’m bad at math?” Accounting and taxation aren't just about numbers, they're also about people. Ultimately, accounting and tax professionals become business consultants. Since taxes and accounting affect every decision a business makes and heavily influence its success, you must be able to advise organizations. This means having the ability to clearly and effectively communicate your knowledge to others.
Yes, you’ll be required to master math basics: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. However, in today’s world, computers have the math covered. It’ll be more useful to become an expert in spreadsheets and communications, and to have a solid base in the fundamental concepts and methods of the field.
If this is your main concern, consider getting a graduate degree in accounting or business taxation (if you’re ready to specialize). At the Carlson School, courses are taught by faculty and industry experts who can help you navigate topics in a systematic way. You’ll also have a cohort of peers to support your studies.
2. Accounting and taxes are boring.
This impression likely comes from the cyclical, routine input work that accountants start out doing when entering the field. However, this period is critical because it’s when you will learn enough specialized skills to consult.
Even so, it’ll be far from boring because:
Work takes place in teams.
Do you imagine accountants to be sitting alone in an office cubicle working late into the night? Accountants and tax professionals rarely work alone. Instead, they are part of a collaborative team, whether that’s auditing a company, doing tax returns, or consulting.
New technologies in an ever-evolving society require constant learning.
Today, sophisticated computer systems complete routine input tasks so accountants can focus on solving complex problems. The emergence of new technologies, like cryptocurrency and other digital assets, also demands new models that consider these developments.
As the technological and economic world changes, so does accounting. Likewise, societal and geo-political shifts affect accounting regulations and tax laws. You can expect to constantly learn new concepts and methods as an accountant.
3. Artificial intelligence will replace accountants and tax professionals.
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns right now is: Will artificial intelligence replace accountants? New technologies and advancements in AI and data analytics certainly are changing the way accountants do their jobs. However, these changes are positive. What’s being automated are routine input tasks. This leaves accountants and tax professionals to do more creative and complex work—the kind that requires human judgment.
However, it's still critical for you to build a solid foundation in these routine input tasks before letting AI take them over. One way to develop that foundational experience is to get a graduate education. At the Carlson School, our accounting and taxation master's programs will help you develop a solid foundation in fundamental concepts and techniques. You’ll also build a background in data analytics and programming so you can use AI and big data as tools to help you make informed decisions about a business’ accounting and tax strategy.
What do accountants and tax professionals do?
At their core, accountants help businesses measure, process, and share financial data to make business decisions. Tax professionals are a specialized pathway within the accounting world.
Companies rely on accountants and tax professionals to help develop strategies, make decisions, and ensure laws and regulations are followed. Their expertise is critical for things like product strategy, business valuations, and mergers and acquisitions.
Skills and aptitudes
Accountants and tax professionals usually have the following skills and aptitudes:
- Can comfortably explain complex ideas to others
- Enjoys solving problems or puzzles
- Seeks lots of growth in their career
- Consistent performance
- Lifelong learner