Analyze This: Putting Performance Before Analytics

In this Tax Notes International article, Vertex Chief Tax Officer Michael Bernard evaluates tax departments’ use of data analytics and argues that it should be guided by establishing specific performance indicators to ensure efficiency. 

Tax functions need to keep pace with tax authorities deploying data analytics capabilities to increase collections, sniff out compliance lapses, and increase their efficiency. Also, corporate tax departments generally lag behind other organizational functions and groups in leveraging data analytics to help drive business value. CFOs increasingly expect their tax leaders to harness tax data to deliver forward-looking data.

However, before tax functions can harness data analytics to deliver additional value, they should be able to measure their own performance and value through key performance indicators (KPIs). It is important that these measures of the tax function’s value and performance be clearly defined and continually updated to reflect business priorities and related tax function objectives. When tax function KPIs are in place, they can serve as helpful guideposts for tax data analytics capabilities.

In this article, Michael addresses the following questions and more: 

  • Why should tax functions measure their performance? 
  • How do KPIs that are tailored to company strategy and related factors help excel the business?
  • What are the four primary expectations finance leaders have of their chief tax officers?

Featured Author

Michael J. Bernard, Chief Tax Officer – Transaction Tax at Vertex Inc. Vertex's Chief Tax Office (CTO) provides insight regarding the impact of tax regulations, policy, enforcement, and emerging technology trends on global tax department operations.

Michael J. Bernard

Chief Tax Officer, Transaction Tax

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Michael Bernard is the Chief Tax Officer of Transaction Tax. In his role, he provides insight and thought leadership around tax department operations, U.S. indirect tax, tax risk management, and tax policy, as well as emerging tax trends. He is an executive-level tax attorney with a diverse portfolio of experience in corporate tax, administration, and finance, including a substantive knowledge of U.S. and international tax laws.

Prior to joining Vertex, Michael was in various tax leadership roles at Microsoft Corporation for 28 years, the most recent being Senior Director – Tax Counsel. Michael led teams in the following functional areas: direct and indirect tax controversy, sales and use, business license, property, tax IT, SOX, and telecommunications. He also co-led a corporate taxpayer advocacy group with the Washington Department of Revenue and was a Director on the Board of the Washington Research Council. Michael has also testified before administrative and lawmakers at both the federal and state level.

Michael earned both a J.D. and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Creighton University. He is a part-time lecturer of Law in the LLM program at the University of Washington School of Law. Michael also served on the board of directors, executive committee, and chaired committees for The Tax Executives Institute (TEI) for nearly 25 years.

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