Tax preparer jobs go abroad


J

John Galt

Government-loving vermin are losing their jobs-HA HA

Guess which jobs are going abroad

These days it's not just a desire to cut costs that's pushing
employers to hire overseas.
January 5, 2004: 11:13 AM EST
By Leslie Haggin Geary, CNN/Money staff writer



New York (CNN/Money) - If a tax preparer gets you an unexpected refund
this year, you may have an accountant in India to thank.

That's because accounting firms are joining the outsourcing trend
established years ago by cost-conscious American manufacturers.

In fact, companies in a number of unexpected industries are now
sending work overseas. From scientific lab analysis to medical
billing, the service-sector workforce has gone global.

CPA firms are just one example. In the 2002 tax year, accounting firms
sent some 25,000 tax returns to be completed by accountants in India.
This year, that number is expected to quadruple.

The reason lies in the numbers; accountants in the United States
typically earn $4,000 a month. In places like India it's closer to
$400, says David Wyle, CEO and founder of SurePrep, a tax-outsourcing
firm based in southern California that's employed more than 200
accountants in Bombay and Ahmedabad, India.

"We've estimated firms will save between $40,000 to $50,000 for every
100 returns that are outsourced," adds Wyle, whose firm expects to do
35,000 returns in the coming year. That's up from 7,000 last year.

Xiptax, of Braintree, Mass., is another tax firm that's moved much
work overseas for "a whole number of reasons," besides money, says CEO
Mark Albrecht.

"Most CPAs do between 45 to 50 percent of their work in two months out
of the year. It makes for an extremely stressful time," says Albrecht,
who adds that accounting firms must then "strain" to find qualified
staffers to help fill in during the crunch.

By hiring full-time staff in India, CPA firms like SurePrep and Xiptax
don't have to worry about finding staff here.

Instead, they simply send tax information to a permanent team of
qualified accountants in India. American accountants then review the
returns before signing off on them.

"The real important part of returns isn't taking a number off a W-2
form and putting it in Box No. 1," notes Albrecht. "The real value is
what's retained within the CPA firm -- the tax planning and the
review."

Fighting cancer from afar
Cancer patients who seek treatment may soon find that when their tests
are "sent to the lab" their medical work is scrutinized by
pathologists who aren't just down the hall, but who are in a different
country.




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Since the mid-1980s, pathologists have been using robotic microscopes
from offsite locations to peer at biopsy samples. But now,
pathologists are using the newest generation of technology to enhance
"telemedicine" opportunities.

Specifically, pathologists are accessing computer servers to look at
digital images of lab slides, says Ronald Weinstein, director of the
Arizona telemedicine project at University of Arizona College of
Medicine.

The benefit isn't cost-cutting or accelerating how fast jobs are done,
says Weinstein, but the power it has to bring the best and brightest
medical minds together.

"Telemedicine will enable international group practices to form," he
says. "You'll have a conference where three world experts can look at
the slide at the same time."

To test potential uses for offshoring medicine, Weinstein's group at
University of Arizona has teamed with the University of Panama School
of Medicine in Panama City to work together on cancer cases.

"We're looking to have pathologists in different time zones to speed
up the rate at which patients pass through clinics," he says.
"Currently we're limited by time zones, not just by access to people
but to a full range of expertise."

Data entry in New Delhi
Pathology isn't the only area in medicine that's looking abroad.
Increasingly, medical billing is being done by clerical staff in
India, too.

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That's the case at Alpha Thought International, a Chicago-based
medical billing firm that has workers both in the U.S. and opened a
billing office two years ago in New Delhi where staff do data entry
work needed to process insurance and other medical billing claims.

"The reason that came about is because it's difficult to find workers
in different parts of the country who want to do data entry," says
Alpha Thought COO Dave Jakielo. When staffers in the United States
quit, the company replaces them with India-based workers.

Alpha Thought cuts costs by 25 percent, because Indian workers are
paid less than the average $10 an hour an American makes. The company
also taps into a better-educated workforce.

"To work in an office over there you must have a college degree," says
Jakielo. "The office workers we hire here are usually high school
graduates."

Even so, even offshoring has its limits.

Jakielo envisions a day when medical billing will be totally
automated. When that happens, even workers in New Delhi will have to
find another gig.
 
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