Smart automation – how the modern tax function can do more with less

29 March, 2022

We continue to see an unprecedented level of change in the tax landscape. Developments like BEPS 2.0, DAC7 and Continuous Transaction Controls (such as eInvoicing and eReporting, for example) are putting increasing pressure on organisations to deliver more with less.

Tax functions today have more obligations, but fewer staff and more data, but less time. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for tax functions to operate in the traditional way.

To meet these challenges, tax functions must look to technology to drive efficiency and reduce manual effort.

A photo a woman looking at two computer monitors

Leveraging automation

If you are not thinking about some form of automation to support your tax function, you should be. Leading teams are embracing this trend, leveraging new tools to become more efficient and capable at pace.

Does your team perform a set of manual or repetitive tasks on a recurring basis? If so, identify a shortlist of tasks that could yield high returns with few barriers to success.

Smart automation tools have put the power to solve problems and streamline tasks into the hands of tax professionals. The available tools can drive efficiency and increase control, creating room for more value added activities. These include extract, transform and load (ETL) tools, robotic process automation (RPA), and analytics and data visualisation tools. One benefit of leveraging such solutions is that they don’t require the same level of investment as full ERP optimisation, while still delivering significant efficiency returns.

The power of data

The ability to take advantage of technologies such as automation and tap into new skills will be essential if tax departments are to make better use of the data they process.

Tax relies on data provided by finance functions, as well as systems maintained and processes established by finance.

Tax, and the wider organisation, can’t deliver its legislative commitments effectively if it accepts data from finance that does not meet its requirements, or where finance processes inadequately support the tax function.

Many organisations are considering broader finance transformation initiatives. It is imperative that the tax team positions itself as a primary customer in any such transformation programme.

When tax is closely integrated into broader finance initiatives, the organisation can realise significant returns on investment for many years to come.

The tax professional of the future

The tax professional of the future will be highly proficient in data analysis, statistics and technology. They will also be adept at process mapping, improvement and change management.

Are there people within your organisation with underutilised technology experience or skills? Are there members of the team who are ready to upskill and share their knowledge?

Empowering tax professionals with automation and analytical skills and tools can redefine the way they work to solve their most challenging data-related problems. This will in turn have a positive impact on job satisfaction and morale, which also delivers operational benefits to the organisation.

To support such internal transformation objectives, we continue to see organisations employing dedicated taxologists, tax technologists and data analysis specialists. Such experts can develop, champion and execute tax technology and transformation strategies.

The three key actions businesses can take now

There are three things to consider when embarking on a tax technology transformation initiative:

  1. Identify critical processes
    Where is your tax function spending most of its time? Where are the inefficiencies and how are they impacting your tax team? Reducing the time spent on existing processes can free up resources for the business, creating continuous improvement opportunities and enhanced operational efficiency.
  2. Combine skills and technology
    The tax function of the future must combine the skills of the traditional tax professional with the latest available technologies. Understand the key internal and external factors impacting transformation. Consider your current and future resource requirements and wants. Stakeholder roles should also be clearly defined.
  3. Invest in the right solution
    Identify quick wins by assessing and prioritising a shortlist of new and existing technologies that can be leveraged, or current processes that might be suitable for automation. It is important to determine the actions that will yield the greatest value with reference to implementation complexity.

We are here to help you

By combining our technology expertise with our knowledge of your business needs, we can help you design and implement a well-defined technology strategy for tax that will enable technology as a strategic partner to the tax function.

We have worked with a number of domestic and international clients across multiple industry sectors to maximise efficiency by implementing automated processes and discovering the power of tax data management and analytics.

Now is the time to embrace transformation and we are ready to help you on that journey. Contact us today.

Contact us

Johnny Wickham

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Stuart Larner

Manager, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Follow PwC Ireland