‘We’ll do the job for Congress’ in absence of tax reform: Intuit CEO

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As Congress’ debate on tax reform continues and the risk of a government shutdown grows, Intuit CEO Brad Smith told CNBC that his tax-handling giant would do its part in the meantime.

“We’re excited about tax simplification. We’ve been working really hard for years to try to make it happen, but in the absence of that, we’ll do the job for Congress,” Smith told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Thursday. “We will simplify the taxes so people can get them done without having to worry about making a mistake.”

The chief of the TurboTax parent said the notion that Intuit’s business would somehow be jeopardized if the tax code were simplified was a misconception.

Smith said that instead, it would help steer the 85 million U.S. residents who hire people to do their taxes for them to do-it-yourself tax applications like Intuit develops.

“If there is a simplification of the tax code, which we are all for, those 85 million people that still go to somebody to do their taxes will have the self-confidence to do it on their own. They’ll use a piece of software like TurboTax or they’ll use a smartphone, and we think that will be a huge stimulus for growing the do-it-yourself category,” Smith told Cramer.

Using machine learning and artificial intelligence in partnership with Salesforce, Intuit recently released a product called SOS Inventory, an addition to its QuickBooks offerings for small businesses.

A technology called SmartLook helps customers navigate the app by letting them connect with experts, who then draw on the app’s interface to point users in the right direction.

“We’ve been able to bring the best of a human-assisted experience into a do-it-yourself software, and it is absolutely killing it in the market,” Smith said.

He added that the rise of the cloud, mobile and artificial intelligence was helping accelerate growth for Intuit, which topped its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings estimates.

Smith also said that one of Intuit’s growth drivers has been the gig economy.

“The research suggests about 34 percent of people are working in this gig economy as a freelancer. They’re driving for Uber or Lyft, they’re running tasks for TaskRabbit, they’re delivering for DoorDash. And today, they have to separate their personal from their business expense[s], then they have to be able to file using the right tax form, and the government considers them a small business,” Smith said.

Upon noticing the rise of this “shift economy,” Intuit developed a product called QuickBook Self-Employed, which uses TurboTax Self-Employed to help freelancers file their taxes.

“This year, we were able to generate 170,000 additional subscribers by simply having them swipe left or right, push a button and their taxes were done,” Smith told Cramer. “We’re just now at, basically, the entry-level point of this. There are 3 million people filing with TurboTax that are self-employed. This year, 170,000 discovered the magic. We’re going to see how high we can go next year.”



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