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How ONESOURCE is helping companies meet tomorrow’s digital tax challenges

Taxologist: Fiona Gibson
03:51

Fiona Gibson is the Tax Systems Lead at Wiley, a publishing company that works with universities, corporations, and researchers worldwide to develop books and other educational materials for working professionals in a variety of fields. Though based in the United States, Wiley has an international footprint that includes Asia, Europe, South America, Australia, and many other countries.

As tax-systems lead, Gibson’s role is to manage coordination between the tax department and the company’s technological infrastructure, using the ONESOURCE platform as a central hub for all of Wiley’s tax departments worldwide. Her main ONESOURCE tools are Determination, Indirect Compliance, and Certificate Manager, though other ONESOURCE products are used elsewhere in the company.

“We chose ONESOURCE over the other suppliers primarily because of the global reach of the product,” Gibson explains. “We were looking for something that would give that global reach, and other suppliers didn’t offer it.”

Taxes at the speed of change

Since adopting ONESOURCE, Gibson and her team have used the platform to dramatically reduce the time it takes to process much of the company’s regular compliance work. Wiley’s U.S. tax returns used to take more than a week to prepare, she says, but can now be finished in a few hours. 

Still, constant changes in tax policy worldwide coupled with increased demands for speed and transparency are pushing Wiley to find even more efficient ways of operating.

“One of the main challenges our departments are facing is shorter timeframes to respond to changes in tax law,” Gibson says. “COVID has also changed the economic strategy in many countries, so we’re seeing really fast changes to tax legislation. Temporary tax-rate changes are rolling out in sometimes as little as twelve hours, so being nimble enough to respond to those changes is quite a challenge.”

Because Wiley is such a diverse international company, part of that challenge is coordinating and integrating the tax function across the entire enterprise. “The biggest advantage ONESOURCE has given us is a single source of truth,” Gibson says, allowing the company to link many different systems to a single tax engine. 

Unified integration

According to Gibson, the certainty of a central, unified solution enables the speed and flexibility her teams need to respond to tax changes around the world in close to real time. “This technology supports a consolidated approach that allows us to respond in a consistent manner to demands from many different stakeholders,” removing much of the guesswork and inefficiency of a more decentralized system, Gibson explains. “Having consistent technology across the enterprise means we can apply the same approach every time, even using different ERP systems and data sources,” she says. 

Now that Wiley’s tax departments have assimilated ONESOURCE’s indirect tax solutions into its everyday workflow, Gibson plans to expand the platform’s usefulness by integrating other functions into the tax engine, starting with the billing system. Like many large organizations, Wiley uses a number of different ERP and billing systems, so Gibson plans to integrate as many of them as possible into ONESOURCE in order to continue streamlining and unifying the company’s tax processes. 

“I am looking for ways to eliminate some of the manual work we’re doing, and to find ways to streamline things like reporting and data interrogation,” Gibson says. Leveraging Thomson Reuters’ partnership with Alteryx is part of that equation, she says, because it would provide data-analytics capabilities such as enhanced scenario modeling and trend analysis.

Positioning for the future

In the larger picture, the push at Wiley to consolidate its tax operations onto the ONESOURCE platform is a strategic effort to position the company for the tax realities of the future. As the world emerges from the COVID pandemic and economies large and small scramble to adapt, tax regimes everywhere are in a continuous state of flux, Gibson says, and keeping current with these disparate regulatory changes is essential. 

“COVID has certainly changed the economic landscape, so there are a lot of countries that are looking at tax changes in the short- and medium-term to stimulate their economies,” Gibson says. During the COVID pandemic, researching and responding to these changes would have been all but impossible. Fortunately, it wasn’t something Gibson had to worry about using ONESOURCE, she says, because the platform automatically updates regulatory changes in more than 300 countries, and instantly applies those changes to the relevant taxes.

“ONESOURCE supported us through COVID with regular content updates, some of which were coming through thick and fast as countries were responding to and announcing tax-rate changes, sometimes at the eleventh hour,” she explains. 

Digital tax reporting

At the same time, Gibson is preparing Wiley’s tax systems to meet digital reporting requirements that Europe and many other nations are now requiring as part of the global effort to update international tax systems for the digital age. However, meeting accelerated digital tax requirements puts a great deal of pressure on tax departments for many reasons, not the least of which is that it demands both speed and accuracy at the same time  – two factors that typically work against each other. 

For example, Taiwan has recently requested that indirect tax reporting be submitted within 48 hours of a transaction, rather than monthly or quarterly. Multiple ERP systems and data sources are complicating the compliance equation for Gibson and her team, but integration through ONESOURCE and a few of what Gibson calls “old tricks” are making it possible to meet Taiwan’s strict new requirements – requirements that are certain to become more common in the future. 

“What you typically see is if one government has a good idea, then another one will pick up on that same tax logic and think, ‘Oh, we could do that too,’” Gibson says. For example, a wide range of Digital Service Taxes (DST) for online transactions are expected to be implemented in 2021 and beyond. And of course, multinationals tax departments everywhere are grappling with the ripple effects from Brexit.

On top of it all, Wiley completed several acquisitions last year, and Gibson is responsible for integrating their disparate tax systems into the Wiley framework – another task that ONESOURCE has helped her accomplish. “Every merger is different, but how we approach them is the same, and it’s been great to use ONESOURCE as part of that process,” Gibson says. 

Wiley’s digital journey is far from over, but for Gibson and her team, ONESOURCE is making the transition smoother and easier for everyone.

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