Special Report

2020 Corporate Tax Departments Survey

New technology demands new skills and new attitudes

Across the world, we now have a shared experience of adapting to change

As corporate tax departments continue to face rapidly evolving regulations and cost squeezes, confident decisions are more critical than ever. In the midst of these new challenges, we have a unique opportunity to forge new ways of doing business, together.

Lisa Hart Shepherd, VP of Research Strategy at Thomson Reuters

The new report, 2020 Corporate Tax Departments Survey, published by Thomson Reuters / Acritas, examines the landscape in the corporate tax field, surveying corporate tax professionals on the challenges their teams are facing and what they need to address them. The report also provides examples of best practices, together with checklists of actions that corporate tax teams can take now, including creating a compelling business case for investment and re-examining how they can get the most out of their external advisors.

Deliver more value

More than 300 respondents took part in the survey in 2020, with nearly half (49%) holding senior roles on their tax teams.

From that feedback, several key challenges and priorities emerged for corporate tax departments, including:

  • The day-to-day pressure of compliance with ever-changing tax code
  • The frustration of dealing with technology that could do so much more if there was sufficient support to make it effective
  • Dwindling resources to call upon both internally and externally

Empower your team to be more productive

The world of corporate tax is entering a new era, in which technology will play an increasingly important role as companies wrestle with the ever-more complex set of rules and regulations from governments all over the world. Technology promises so much: cost savings; efficiency; better, faster data analysis; clearer decision-making; and the ability to streamline repetitive tasks.

When technology becomes complex or hard to use, nobody uses it correctly, and there goes your automation.

So, why do tax managers cite this as such a challenge? Survey respondents were asked about their use of various technologies, and a surprising number noted how much of their technology was under-utilized.

I was frustrated at how much time my team was spending on non-value-added work — I don’t pay them to manipulate data in Excel. I pay them to analyze data, understand what it means to us, and file returns.

Work smarter

Resourcing the right people and skills

While facing daily pressures from the board, management, and other stakeholders to become more efficient and effective, more than half of respondents felt that their teams were under-resourced. They also identified significant skills gaps, both tax-related and technological.

It’s a tight labor market, especially for tax specialists and also for the technology experts that might support them in their drive for automation. When it comes to talent and people, there are different approaches to addressing the skills gap and leading change. For example, there’s a clear move to develop the new role of tax technologists, a professional that will combine tax knowledge with technology and data skills.

In a tight labor market for such talent, it is advantageous for corporations to support these individuals with training, technology, and the right resources to retain talent.

A key finding in the report is that Optimized and Predictive departments that implemented the right technology are moving ahead more quickly than their peers.

Get the information you can trust to make better decisions

In a rapidly changing, challenging world, the need to work more efficiently is even more pronounced. Corporate tax departments already had a steadily increasing workload before the current crisis, and have been learning first-hand, under the pressure of mandated work-from-home, just how resilient their systems and how adaptable their people need to be. To thrive going forward, they will need to prioritize both technology and people, building and refining systems that increase the efficiency and value of both.

Ready to read more?

Complete the form to access our full 2020 Corporate Tax Departments Survey.