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13.11.2018

Core Theses of the Study "Getting Ready for the Future of the Tax Function”

Key Facts
  • Participants state discrepancy between relevance and actual use of digital technologies and the actual degree of digitization of tax processes
  • Strategic orientation and budget are prerequisites for successful digitization of tax departments

Digitalization is a high-priority topic for tax professionals

Tax experts consider digital technologies and skills in using them to be very important. More than 67% of the participants have recognized the need to deal with the topic of digitalization in the tax field and have been studying the subject in their professional context for at least one year.

Tax workflows are often not yet digitalized end-to-end

The majority of the tax experts surveyed describe the degree of digitalization of their own work as low or moderate. Only about a quarter of the participants describe it as being strongly or very strongly digitalized.

Strategic orientation is a major factor for the digitalization success of the tax department

Just 29% of the experts stated that their clients have a clearly defined digitalization strategy for the tax department. Furthermore, the results indicate that companies that align their tax digitalization strategy with the overall corporate strategy are more advanced in terms of integrating processes and procedures as well.

Dedicated budgets are a key success factor for successful digitalization

A total of 31 percent of the surveyed experts stated that dedicated budgets are available for the implementation of the digitalization strategy of the tax function. The results indicate that, in those cases, the tax digitalization strategy is also more often aligned with the company’s overall strategy.

High level of process standardization with low end-to-end IT support

A large share of the experts inter- viewed stated that tax-related processes at their clients are standardized (49%), while 18% of the participants have processes that are fully supported digitally and end-to-end by IT systems.

Digital tax data is the basis for workflow integration

Almost half of the participants state that tax-relevant data can be used in digital form and is accessible for automated processing (46%). In addition, the results indicate a strong correlation between the availability of digital data and the integration of the tax department with other company divisions.

Tax departments are open to using digital technologies

The vast majority of the participants surveyed (72%) stated that digital technologies are not perceived as a threat. The subjective perception of technologies as a danger plays a major role in the success of their introduction and the associated acceptance by employees.

There is strong demand for further training in the use of digital technologies

Digital technologies have the potential to fundamentally improve clients' tax-related activities, but the application represents a new challenge for many companies. Of the experts surveyed, 67% confirm that there is demand for training in the general concepts and the use of basic technologies, as well as in the specific application of individual technologies.

Artificial Intelligence for tax is still in its infancy

Methods from the field of Artificial Intelligence are not yet widely used in the field of taxation; merely 5% of the experts state that they are already being used by their clients. For most applications, the use of AI is very limited and restricted to only a few specific use cases.

AI is changing tax consultancy

Most of the participants are experienced in using computers and IT systems and have a common understanding of the term “Artificial Intelligence“ and “machine learning“. Most of them can imagine a concrete application for AI in the respective work area. Fully 64% hold the opinion that the work of tax consultancy in general will be changed through the use of AI, for example through the automation of routine activities and the subsequent focus on higher-value activities.

Based on expert opinions on success factors and obstacles to digitalization in the tax field, the following core topics were identified in this study

Top opportunities

 

Top challenges

> Increase in tax compliance by clearly defining a digitalization strategy with measurable goals and by implementing measures for process automation and continuous monitoring at the operational level, which enables improved risk management.   > Lack of professional qualification of personnel or specialized teams and the resulting high demand for further training and the corresponding change management.

 
     
> Tax data quality management through the digitalization and standardization of tax-relevant information in integrated tax databases and the consistent implementation of both data import interfaces with operational systems and linking of related data.   > Budget restrictions and high initial costs for the implementation of digital projects and the ongoing operation of the necessary IT infrastructure or the allocation of personnel resources.

 
     
> Realization of cost savings and optimization potentials through the availability of end-to-end digital data streams that open up new possibilities for evaluation by advanced analytics methods and enable better decision support and the identification of opportunities for tax savings.   Organizational issues, country-spe- cific peculiarities and local regulatory requirements present challenges for the consistent definition of digitaliza- tion concepts and the concrete imple- mentation of technologies, which in turn makes it difficult to use standard procedures throughout an enterprise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vanessa Just
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