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Deducting Difficulties: Introducing the Tax Technologist

With Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT now established and similar initiatives for Income and Corporation Tax on the horizon, the industry is embracing technology and digitalisation at pace and in ways it hasn’t done before.

Posted: 28th February 2023 by Katina Hristova
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To remain compliant with MTD regulations, businesses will have to get on top of their data. In other words, they must understand it, know where the commonalities need to exist, and where data flows from start to finish. Unsurprisingly, this has led to growing calls within the businesses for expert Tax Data Professionals who are capable of locating, mapping and managing all relevant data.

However, board-level personnel are increasingly recognising that it is the Tax Technologist, who will play a critical role in future-proofing organisations ahead of new developments and evolving tax rules.

Combining exceptional impeccable collaborative skills with technical know-how, the Tax Technologist is the ultimate data and technology expert. These team members will play a pivotal role in enabling tax department teams – along with other business stakeholders - to work together and add value to the business.

Dealing with the tax data conundrum – and more

Just as GDPR legislation changed the rules of the game with regard to how organisations handle sensitive personal data, MTD is compelling tax and finance teams to focus on the importance of getting tax right the first time. That includes maintaining appropriate digital records of all transactions undertaken.

Almost five years ago, GDPR propelled Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) into the boardroom. Here, their tech insights and grasp of data-related issues enabled organisations to review and streamline their systems, improve workflows, and implement standardised data security policies across the business. Now the Tax Technologist is set to play a similar mission-critical role for businesses, both large and small.

Operating with a much wider remit than the Tax Data Professional, the Tax Technologist will focus on some key primary tasks. First of which will be eliminating data silos and ensuring that systems, together with all related processes, are integrated and streamlined. This will enable organisations to be head of the game when it comes to hitting HMRC’s new compliance deadlines.

The Tax Technologist is responsible for delivering one key outcome: ensuring that key stakeholders in the tax department have full visibility of the data they need, and that this data is always accurate and correct. By eliminating the need to second guess or manually validate data held within their systems, the Tax Technologist is able to put automated systems in place. Using high-quality data that delivers unified insights, tax and finance professionals will be empowered to operate efficiently and at the top of their game.

But that’s not all. As a standard bearer for the tax department, the Tax Technologist is able to highlight how digital transformation greatly expands the added value that tax teams can contribute to the business.

For example, strong collaboration between tax executives and finance decision-makers will enable the identification of potential issues and opportunities and improved risk management. It will also support the organisation to better plan and forecast its business goals, thanks to a deeper understanding of the tax impact of any decisions taken.

Getting to grips with the person behind the role

Typically reporting to the Head of Tax, the Tax Technologist will be tasked with getting to grips with the key frustrations and challenges confronting tax teams and ensuring that senior tax professionals can achieve some concrete goals. For example, cutting the time taken to produce a Corporate Tax return by 50%.

Holding responsibility for implementing new tax technologies, enhancing key processes and procedures and assuring the security of tax and related finance data, the consultative nature of the role will also initiate frequent conversations between the Tax Technologist and InfoSec and IT management teams.

With a background in IT and acquired skills in tax transformation and compliance, the Tax Technologist brings a depth of experience in a variety of fields together with a holistic vision of how to bridge the gap between business, technology and innovation. They’ll be confident about working with complex data and understand how the need to deliver the greater transparency and visibility demanded by HMRC means that real-time access to information is a strategic must-have.

With this demand growing, professional bodies like the Chartered Institute of Taxation have launched specialist qualifications designed to get people up to speed with this field. A move that will enable organisations of all sizes to develop people with the skills that will be needed to usher in new ways of working.

Evolving towards a digital future

Tax is evolving and the future is digital. Forward-looking organisations are proactively introducing Tax Technologist roles that can take ownership over IT projects related to tax and compliance, and interface with other stakeholders across the business.

Until now, the Tax Technologist role and function has been primarily the purview of only a handful of large accountancy consulting firms. But with the challenge of Pillar Two reporting and MTD on the horizon, the pressure to automate more processes means that organisations of all shapes and sizes will be looking to expand their tax technology function, achieve new efficiencies, unlock the potential of technology solutions and perform confidently and compliantly in the new digital tax environment.

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