Top Three Challenges for Tax Departments

How are tax organisations evolving, and what do tax folks see as their major challenges?

A new survey of more 300 U.S.-based tax professionals offers some insights.

If you guessed that shouldering the overall compliance burden would be the top challenge tax departments face, you’re close – but that came in second in a Bloomberg Tax survey. The award for the top challenge goes to … (dramatic pause) … legislative tracking/tax reform/staying up-to-date on changes. In third place, trailing these two by about 10 percentage points: management of tax data (collection, processing, etc.).

While tax may have lagged other parts of the organisation in terms of embracing newer technologies (think artificial intelligence, robotics, and digitalisation), that’s changing. 

Deloitte 2018 Report
Deloitte LLP

It’s perhaps not surprising that companies are worried about keeping up with tax rule changes, given two more findings of the report: tax-related risks are growing, and tax authorities are getting more aggressive. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of survey respondents reported that their company is somewhat more, or much more, exposed to tax-related risk than it was five years ago. And nearly three-quarters (74%) think their company will face more aggressive enforcement from tax authorities in the next couple of years.

In addition to the discussion of what’s keeping tax directors up at night, the report looks at how the role of the tax function, and tax leaders, is evolving. Tax planning is growing in strategic importance; it’s now the top mandate for the tax department. Forty-four percent of participants said their tax department will primarily seek to improve tax planning and/or tax-related decision support in the next two years.

Traditional tax executive attributes – leadership/managerial abilities, sophisticated tax planning and financial reporting skills – will continue to be important in the next two years. Interestingly, the report notes two qualities which respondents see as growing in importance: proficiency in technology systems for finance and tax, and proficiency in data analytics/modelling.

There’s more in the report to interest tax leaders navigating today’s complex legislative, economic, geopolitical and technological environments. In this post, Vertex VP of Tax Research Bernadette Pinamont analyses survey results and how a lack of modern technology impacts the tax function.

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Michelle Engro

Public Relations & Social Media Specialist

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Michelle Engro helps coordinate Vertex’s public relations and social media functions. Michelle has more than five years of corporate communications, public relations and social media experience. A graduate of Penn State University with a B.A. in public relations, Michelle also holds an M.A. in communications studies from West Chester University.

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