On 20 June we presented a webinar called a “Year in the Life of a Taxologist” – a Taxologist being a tax professional who embraces the latest tax technology. In the presentation we considered the growth of the usage of tax technology by tax departments and reviewed the traits that would allow you to recognise a Taxologist if you met one. We also explored what a year in the working life of these tax technologists could look like utilising ONESOURCE tax technology for each step of the tax reporting and compliance cycle.
As part of the webinar we asked a series of polling questions which provided some interesting results, which I wanted to look at in a bit more detail here. The first of the questions asked:
“Does your organisation have a dedicated tax technology strategy and/or tax technology officer?”
More than 50% of registrations said that they had either a tax technology officer or strategy in place, or both. I don’t think we were surprised by this. Based on our discussions with tax departments over the last 18 months this is trend we have seen where tax functions are actively assessing their use of technology, setting out a clear tax technology roadmap with dedicated internal resource to support the evaluation process.
We then asked participants about their use of spreadsheets, focussing on the extent to which tax departments rely on spreadsheets for tax compliance and tax provision processes. We also asked what age were the spreadsheets they were using.
Over 50% of the registrations said they rely completely on spreadsheets for their tax reporting and compliance process, and of these more than 40% of the spreadsheets in use are over 3 years old.
Excel can be a very flexible tool but it is very difficult to establish robust controls, increasing the risk of deficiencies and weakness due to human or formula error. The different components that make up the tax provision workings often mean that there are a large volume of calculations and adjustments being handled manually, which is time consuming and inefficient. Finally, workbooks have often been created and developed by the same member of the tax team over a number of years which leads to overreliance on key personnel and difficulties on-boarding new people into the process.
A stronger tax technology solution will provide the necessary controls, automation and security capabilities to prevent reporting errors, and enabling a standardised approach which reduces the overreliance on key personal and manually driven calculations.
Given those findings, we also polled our audience to try and understand what the current top priority was for their tax department.
It was very revealing to see that adding more automation to the direct tax process is the highest priority for the tax professionals we polled. Reducing time spent on manual processes, such as re-keying data at each stage of tax reporting and compliance cycle will also assist in reducing risk and increasing the accuracy of the tax calculation.
To address these issues, ONESOURCE provides powerful and adaptable tools for the tax team to automate data collection, and then use and reuse that data across an integrated suite of applications which have been designed to enable and streamline core tax reporting and compliance processes.
We ended the presentation by asking the participants how they would describe their own approach to tax technology.
The majority of respondents described themselves as being at the first stages of their assessment of tax technology opportunities, which reflects the conversations we have been having over the past year with tax teams who are looking to assess how they can take their direct tax process forward by leveraging tax technology to enable them to use resource better, and move towards becoming a more proactive business unit contributing regular insight and support to their organisations’ strategies and ambitions.
However, it was also very encouraging to see that there also quite a number of tax technologists and fully fledged Taxologists out there already!
Live Poll Results in Full (20 June 2017)
|How old are the spreadsheets you rely on?||Count (%)|
|Developed in the last 6 months||4.8|
|Does your organisation have a dedicated tax technology strategy and/or tax technology officer?||Count (%)|
|Yes – tax tech strategy only||17|
|Yes – tax tech officer only||7|
|Yes – both||24|
|No – neither||52|
|To what extent do you rely on spreadsheets for your tax compliance and reporting?||Count (%)|
|25% – Use as few as possible||17|
|50% – Central to our process||28|
|Over 75% – Totally rely on spreadsheets||55|
|Following this presentation, how would you describe your approach to tax technology?||Count (%)|
|Happy to carry on with what I have for now||10|
|Taking first steps into assessing tax technology||53|
|I have the makings of a tax technologist||25|
|I am a Taxologist||12|
|What is the current top priority for your tax department?||Count (%)|