Joe May almost became a textile chemist. Today, he’s a Taxologist for a global textiles company.
Joe is director of tax compliance for VF Corporation, a global apparel and footwear company that earns more than $12b in annual revenue, has 100+ subsidiaries, and employs approximately 58,000 people. It’s a large, complex organization in an extremely competitive industry that requires raw volume to produce the profits that keep management and shareholders happy.
Joe says there was a large textiles industry in North Carolina where he grew up and went to college, but by the time he was ready to start his career, those jobs had begun moving overseas.
Staring the realities of globalization in the face when Joe graduated from NC State in 1998, he started looking for another field to catch his interest. He found accounting.
“I’m a numbers guy. I thought, ‘this is good,’” he remembered. “I don’t want to say it came easy, but it made sense.”
He was accepted into a fellowship at a Big Four accounting firm and a master’s program at UNC Chapel Hill. He was right about his affinity for the tax and accounting profession; he worked in public accounting for 12 years before he joined VF Corp.
I’m a numbers guy. I thought, ‘this is good.’ I don’t want to say it came easy, but it made sense.
Sportswear and the Rise of Athleisure
Athletic apparel companies like VF Corporation are booming. Surging consumer interest in health and wellness participation, coupled with a big increase in the number of brands merging sportswear with fashion, pushed up sportswear’s global retail by 7%, the company’s strongest performance in seven years.
Sportswear: Global Sales by Category 2009 vs 2014
Challenging the status quo
When Joe joined VF Corporation, the department was using Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE™ as a vendor, but they only used basic integration to handle the state apportionment process, and they still relied heavily on manual processes in Excel. Joe saw an opportunity to more efficiently coordinate across the three responsible groups. Once again, he had to accommodate the fact that business is increasingly global.
For Joe, this part of the job was, in a word, intuitive: “I love to take things apart to figure out how they work. That habit isn’t much different from building processes for the tax department,” he says. “I don’t know that I ever get to a point where I’m done experimenting or changing things up. Once you understand how everything works together, it’s easier to build a process that makes everything better.”
So Joe turned to ONESOURCE to create a system that performs real-time tax calculations, which was a new capability for the 110-year-old company. Structuring the necessary data in the right way means this process can be automated. This is crucial.
Close faster, file earlier
The results of the department’s new approach have been staggering. From a compliance standpoint, more than two months of work for a department of 25 has been eliminated from the federal consolidated 1120 compliance timeline. The state compliance timeline has been reduced from more than four months to eight weeks. During the 2015 provision season, the federal team was able to complete the provision one week sooner. On the international side, Joe’s use of the ONESOURCE platform eliminated more than 40 hours from an 80-hour process.
More significantly, error-checking was one of the big time sinks that VF Corporation’s tax department was facing, but the time spent on this has decreased drastically.
“I don’t want anyone to spend time at work crunching numbers when there’s a process that can do that for us,” he says. “We used to have a lot of manual processes, but we’ve been embracing technology to improve our processes, and it frees our people up to do things that are more critical to the company’s bottom line.”
Organized in 1899, VF Corporation is a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories, with more than 30 brands and 59,000 associates. VF’s businesses and brands are organized into five categories called coalitions, consisting of: outdoor & action sports, jeanswear, imagewear, sportswear and contemporary brands. While VF is highly diversified across brands, products, distribution channels and geographies, the VF culture and approach to doing business provides a unique and powerful competitive advantage.
Tax Automation that Works
Even with this quantifiable success, Joe and his team aren’t complacent. They recognize the benefits that automation offers by removing manual input, versioning risk and improving data integrity. But they also know that any time saved through automation is time that can be spent on further automating, innovating and improving other tax processes.
More than 2 months of work for a department of 25 has been eliminated from the federal consolidated 1120 compliance timeline.
The state compliance timeline has been reduced by 50%—from 4+ months to less than eight weeks.
The federal team completed the provision one week earlier during the 2015 season.
On the international side, using ONESOURCE eliminated more than 40 hours from an 80-hour process.
7 Reasons to Transform Tax with Technology
Issues like globalization and ever-changing regulations present a variety of challenges for corporate tax departments that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago.
That’s why the time for tax technology in the corporate tax department is now.
Our eBook titled, “7 Reasons to Transform Tax with Technology” will help you stay ahead of the regulatory curve and elevate your tax department! Click here to download.
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