As the effects of the pandemic continue to reverberate through the economy, resource-constrained corporate tax departments are unceasingly adapting to change — including new regulatory requirements, new ways of working, extended tax deadlines, Covid tax relief provisions and, now, the demands of a busy tax-filing season.
- How the right technology scales to meet a company’s evolving needs.
- Beneficial tax technology features and functions.
- The impact of e-filing.
- How the right user community can help tax professionals crowd-source ideas.
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The episode features guidance from three specialists from Thomson Reuers: Bianca Kuijper, direct tax & transfer pricing propositions director; Alycia Hemingway, customer success manager; and Sudha Addepalli, vice president of corporate technology segment.
Addepalli opened the broadcast by describing the features and functionality corporate tax teams need in a tax software solution in order to file returns electronically and on time and to comply with all relevant regulations and filing requirements. “You need to complete the right federal, state, local, and international returns quickly, accurately, and securely,” she said. “You need to filter tax returns data, run your analytics, and have instant access to every type of tax form and schedule.” For example, she noted that the ONESOURCE Direct Tax Suite provides users with:
- Access to more than 4,600 tax forms.
- Auto-scaling capability that expands capacity when usage patterns require it.
- A cloud-based platform that delivers remote data storage, data management, and server computing.
It’s also beneficial for third-party tax compliance software to be browser agnostic, integrate easily with a company’s systems through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and provide state-of-the-art cybersecurity — including system vulnerability testing, strong password policies, and user-privilege mechanisms that prevent unauthorized access to information.
As more and more jurisdictions around the world mandate electronic filing, it’s important for corporate tax software to provide intuitive e-filing functionality for domestic and international corporate and partnership returns, Addepalli said. Also essential are easy-to-understand prompts for validation errors, the ability to quickly make corrections, and the ability to monitor the status or all electronic filings.
When it comes to operational processes that ensure a smooth tax season, Hemingway recommends tax teams start with a “pre-filing” conference call to confirm the status and assess the tax implications of changes to the company’s entity structures as well as acquisitions, divestitures, property dispositions, and other significant business activities.
It’s essential, Hemingway added, for tax teams to stayed apprised of new regulatory obligations and developments in all the tax jurisdictions their companies operate in.
E-filing is one area that is rapidly evolving. “Both the IRS and all the states, year over year, are making changes to their e-filing requirements,” she said. “More states are mandating electronic filing and I’m (expecting) more cities to mandate it. That will be coming.”
Noting that “returns are ever-changing and complex,” Hemingway said the question she receives most often from corporate tax professionals is “‘Where do I enter data for a particular form?’ And there are 4,600 forms! That’s mind boggling.”
To address this, “we have a document in our customer center lists all of these forms, and tells taxpayers where to enter the data, whether it’s for an apparent entity, a subsidiary, or even down at the division level,” Hemingway explained. For state tax reporting, “we have a plethora of user guides that (explain) how to do a combined return, where to enter your data for those returns, what forms are required.”
The ONESOURCE User Community enables corporate tax professionals to ask questions, share information, and discuss pertinent issues, she said. Common questions, and resources that answer them, are:
Do I have to include that form in the e-file or can I PDF it? For this and other e-filing info, turn to the IRS resource, Tax Year 2020 Directions for Corporations.
How do I e-file my federal return? What states can I e-file in? What is mandated? What is the perfection period? Can I e-file an amended returns? How should I make my payment? Thomson Reuters’ online e-file guides will answer these questions and more.
I have other questions on how to complete my returns that I need answered. Where can I find them? These resources will help.
For more detailed information to help navigate tax season, view the ONDEMAND webinar and read the previous post Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices to Closing the Quarter from Home.