Taxologists Are a Different Breed
When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. For Sarah Vance, the US Tax Director for Cummins Inc., her background and personal interests converged in the right place at the right time.
Initially an actuarial science major at Ball State University in Indiana, Sarah didn’t take to it like some of her family did. But she remembered enjoying an accounting class in high school so she switched majors and kept a computer science minor. After graduation and a yearlong Masters program, she joined a Big 4 firm where she passed the CPA exam and was immediately drawn to the technological training and people development programs.
“My interest in technology has always been there. I did the training at the local, regional and national level. I’d listen to comments and complaints and think about a better solution,” Sarah recalls. “I’d also been through two different software implementations with two separate clients, so I’d seen firsthand the benefits of tax technology.”
In September 2012, after more than eight years with the firm, she made a move to Cummins to catapult her career to the next level. Cummins is a nearly 100-year-old company that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel engines and related technology around the world.
Envisioning a Modern Tax Department
To be the Taxologist of the Year is to be a pioneer that understands, enjoys, and implements not only proven accounting techniques but also new technology solutions. It is to know and embrace the value of being a strategic thinker who can harness personal and professional skills in a new way, maximizing the tax function as an end game.
Sarah saw such opportunities after she came aboard to Cummins. The company was just starting to revamp its provision process and was undergoing a total tax transformation. It was an exciting time to join the department and become involved with evaluating new technologies. She said:
Sarah quickly realized that other departments could benefit from these newfound efficiencies. As she oversaw compliance and worked closely with the IT department, they looked beyond their initial needs and set out to revamp the tax department as a whole.
Real Solutions with Actual Results
Cummins now licenses numerous Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE™ applications, with Sarah and her team playing a role in the implementation and process considerations for nearly every ONESOURCE application. The department now consists of 650 users across the globe, ranging from international tax controllers to cost center accountants. Her team coordinates data collection, validation and automation efforts across hundreds of business units, and the level of granularity drills down multiple layers beyond legal entity.
Always Looking Forward
Sarah’s job is never complete—it’s evolving. After a two-year implementation, the team is still tweaking, adding and looking at potential improvements. Consider the results Sarah and the team have achieved in such a short amount of time:
Reduced redundancy by transitioning from spreadsheets to 330 ONESOURCE Dataflow packages across 150 international, 60 federal, and 120 state tax workpapers.
Coordinated data collection, validation, and automation across 650 ONESOURCE users around the globe, ranging from international tax controllers to cost center accountants.
Standardized process on a single platform yielded tax automation increase of: 78% for international, 50% in state apportionment, and 25% in federal.
Impressive time to value realized within the ﬁrst 90 days of ONESOURCE DataFlow launch.
“We built a solid base during the initial project, and now we’re seeing how we can expand it.”
With the increased efﬁciencies they’ve gained, Sarah can continue to invest in the people around her. The department has time to analyze trends and uncover why numbers are changing. She has seen her team grow professionally to deeply understand more of the business and ways to increase the bottom line. Additionally, Cummins created a new tax technology manager position to maintain coordination and look at new ways to ﬁx the challenges facing them.
Personally, Sarah says she’s beneﬁtted from not settling for the status quo. She strives to understand every angle of an issue and develop a plan of attack if there’s a way to work differently.
What is the Taxologist Awards Program?
The Taxologist Awards program recognizes outstanding tax departments and individuals who have excelled in maximizing tax function effectiveness and driving signiﬁcant value to their organization together with ONESOURCE.
We’d like to congratulate Danielle Colabella for winning the 2016 Taxologist of the Year – Corporation. Thank you for carrying the Taxologist torch.
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