Drones are no longer just for hobbyists or retailers who want to get their clients their merchandise fast. These tiny little flying machines offer a lot of possibilities for accountants as well. To help your business take off in different directions, you may want to start exploring the ways drones can help you.
Tax collection agencies in countries such as Spain, Argentina, and China have started to use drones to catch tax evaders by surveying their assets from above, and although the Canada Revenue Agency is not even talking about programs like this, accountants can use drone technology in similar ways. To give you an example, imagine the CRA claims that one of your clients underreported a capital gain from the sale of a property. The agency asserts that the fair market value of the property is more than your client reported in relation to the disposition of the property. To dispute the auditor’s claim, you have your drones swoop in and take pictures of the property to help establish its value.
Of course, drones can also help you evaluate property when there’s not an audit involved. Imagine you have a client who owns a large mineral deposit or a mining operation. A drone can be invaluable at helping to estimate the value of your client’s holdings. Walking through such a massive property and assessing it on foot is time-consuming and more prone to error. From the air, you can take countless pictures and get the information you need.
Similarly, that same information can be invaluable when you are trying to do company valuations. In this process, you need to take into account a lot of details that are likely on paper such as income and liabilities, but you also want to include the company’s real property. In particular, for large properties that have fallen into disuse and your client isn’t sure what’s on the property, a drone can help you gather the information you need.
Imagine a client is trying to value its investment property business and one of the company’s assets is an old ski resort that’s no longer in use. The area is too large to access on foot, and it’s impossible to drive through the whole property. Cue the drones.
Estimating Future Expenses
Many professionals are starting to use drones for checking the safety of construction sites, inspecting infrastructure in certain areas, or deciding what type of property maintenance needs to be done. While a lot of these elements are not directly related to the accounting industry, this information can be useful in cases where you are trying to help clients forecast future costs. For instance, if a client knows it needs to invest money into maintenance on a property, a drone inspection can help you pin down the numbers. Similarly, if a client is thinking about buying and developing a property, the data collected by a drone can help you hone in on the right offer from a financial perspective.
Before taking to the skies, make sure to check the laws in your area. As of 2018, Canada is adopting new laws for drones. For drones weighing between 250 grams and 1 kilogram, the pilot must be age 14 or over, and for larger drones, the pilot must be at least 16. In all cases, you need to pass a knowledge test, obtain liability insurance, and stay a certain distance from airports, heliports, and people. If you fly in an urban area, you need to meet additional requirements such as registering your drone with Transport Canada.
Drones may be able to help your business in a lot of unique ways. If you decide to embrace this technology, you can grab the controllers and do the flying yourself or hire a commercial drone pilot.