Corporate tax departments get set to take on the new year, and a key challenge is maintaining stability in an environment of continual change and uncertainty.
A new Thomson Reuters Checkpoint webinar, titled Practical Year-End Considerations for the Tax Department, addresses:
- Quick wins will enable tax departments to begin 2022 with momentum and goodwill from stakeholders.
- A checklist of activities will help smaller departments tee up a successful 2022.
- Best practices and tips for the new year.
The webinar features David Gassman, Head of Tax Operations at a New York-based financial services firm, and Melissa Oaks, Director of Current Awareness for Thomson Reuters Checkpoint, the premier research and guidance platform for tax and accounting professionals.
Many companies want their tax departments to evolve from an administrative, supporting role focused on compliance operations to become a strategic partner that leverages financial data to create actionable insights and provide business guidance to stakeholders within the company.
This transition, however, often is hampered by the need to keep pace with:
- A steady stream of regulatory changes and global tax reform initiatives.
- Growing digital demands from increasingly sophisticated tax authorities around the world.
- Internal changes as their companies embrace digital transformation, engage in mergers & acquisitions, respond to supply chain challenges and undertake Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives.
- Emerging technologies.
- Demands to recruit, retain and develop tax and technology talent at a time when tax department budgets are flat or decreasing.
- Pressure to utilize technology to improve the efficiency of tax compliance and provision processes.
“It’s constant change, constant churn, and yet business is booming,” Gassman said. “We’ve never been busier . . . People are working longer and harder.”
Against this backdrop, a reliable, intuitive, modern tax research platform will reduce the risk of “getting it wrong,” be a fit for new ways of working and for digital natives’ technology expectations, reduce the time required for staff development, and balance the need for quick answers and authoritative research.
During the webinar, Oaks and Gassman discussed how to:
- Identify tools and solutions that help tax professionals stay abreast of new — and delve into existing — tax rules and regulations.
- Assess the tax research landscape.
- Manage risks of the unknown and minimize knowledge gaps.
- Increase profitability and productivity.
- Become a strategic adviser and drive business transformation.
Gassman described his tax department’s six-point framework for staying focused on key priorities while navigating continuous change.
“This model (is how) we manage our current book of work, change management, business planning, our relationships, and do it in a forward-thinking, future-proof way,” he said.
Compliance — Job One is consistently complying with the myriad corporate tax rules in all of the jurisdictions his organization operates in globally. “First and foremost, we strive as tax professionals for compliance,” Gassman said. “You’ve heard of many cases where people go afoul of compliance, and it never ends well. . . We make sure we have the tools, the resources, and the knowledge base to know what we need to do and manage any risk.”
Client Experience — Supporting stakeholders start with education — keeping them apprised of all relevant tax obligations for the company. Gassman discussed a new transaction tax levy in Hong Kong that does not apply to most of the organization’s investors — but is extremely important to those who trade in Hong Kong. In that case, the tax team uses its research tools to communicate for traders summarizing the new law and its implications. Another critical aspect of client experience is exemplary customer service, Gassman said. “It’s making sure our processes work, that they’ve been tested. If a client is expecting something to happen — a filing that is supposed to happen by a particular day — it’s done by that day. We strive for that.”
Support Efficiency — Chronically under-staffed tax teams need to adopt technology to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. “We know what we need to do, we need to do it in a client-friendly way, and we need to do it in a smart way,” Gassman said. “We look at technology. We engage vendors; we engage technology solutions. The days of manually filing taxes should be over.”
Global Change Management — Gassman noted that corporate tax teams need to have robust processes to manage change because regulatory and operational changes occur continually. This begins with regularly analyzing proposed and new tax legislation and rule changes to understand their potential impact on the enterprise. “It’s important to understand globally where you sit,” he said.
Business Planning — The corporate tax department’s business plan should detail how it will meet its obligations to maintain regulatory compliance, deliver an excellent client experience, and operate efficiently.
Cost Management — Stay on budget, build in a buffer for unexpected overages, and manage staff resources to ensure the department can keep up with its workload during tax season, Gassman advised.
Watch the recorded webinar, Practical Year-End Considerations for the Tax Department, to learn more.