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Alteryx for tax: Our advice for businesses facing 5 common scenarios

The tax industry moves, pivots and evolves at a rapid pace. Not a day goes by without new rates or rules being implemented, while barely a month passes before a country somewhere in the world announces a major regulatory update.

As our Alteryx Commercial Lead, I’ve long been an advocate of deploying Alteryx to solve real-life tax headaches that many businesses face; whether on a daily basis or as part of a longer-term plan to revolutionise the way they manage tax.

Here, I’d like to share some of the scenarios tax professionals have discussed with me in recent months – and, more importantly, why I have recommended automation with Alteryx as a comprehensive, efficient and long-lasting solution.

Jump to question:

Do I need new tech to accurately determine tax within complex supply chains?

How can I save time on manual, repetitive tasks when managing multiple tax type?

How can a small team stay on top of unprecedented VAT changes?

What’s the best way to future-proof our tax setup tax amidst global uncertainty?

Should I act now to tackle lack of data visibility?

1) Do I need new tech to accurately determine tax within complex supply chains?

Business scenario:

We’re a busy global business that trades in over 100 countries. As such, we need to make fast, accurate tax calculations across multiple jurisdictions, often involving complex supply chains. While our existing systems do a good job and I’ve always felt they were part of our long-term future, recently I can’t help but wonder whether the grass might be greener elsewhere. Could there be major efficiency gains to be achieved with new technology or should I remain loyal to our current solutions?

My advice:

As you grow and the industry evolves, it’s only natural to fret over whether you have the support and infrastructure required to deliver exceptional results. I understand your concern. The truth is that remaining loyal to legacy systems may be the easy option, but it’s rarely the right one.

Even if the solution you’re using is of good quality, there are still many potential pitfalls without the help of a tool like Alteryx. For example, who is checking and validating the data you’re inputting? We often remind clients that if they enter garbage in a tax system, they should expect garbage to come out.

With Alteryx, tax logic can be applied to your data, helping to categorise transactions by tax treatments and following the relevant legislation. It can also be used to ensure tax rules are set up correctly, standardise data, identify where the most complex challenges lie and offer access to comprehensive analytics.

It’s all about taking a long-term, wider view of your business and plotting a successful future that can only be achieved with world-class automated data analytics. From validating and adjusting tax determination processes to identifying recurring errors, Alteryx opens the door to tax perfection. You won’t miss your current outdated systems for a second!

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2) How can I save time on manual, repetitive tasks when managing multiple tax types?

Business scenario:

Please help! Every month I waste so much time trying to manage and amend multiple tax types, such as Sales Tax, Use Tax, VAT, Excise Duty and others. Tell me there’s an easier way to do this!

My advice:

You must feel like you’re going out of your mind; seeing huge chunks of your working week disappear before your eyes on repetitive, laborious tasks. The good news is manual tasks such as these are among the best suited to automation.

Experts from our Alteryx Practice typically configure logic to verify different tax type applications from your source systems and/or tax engine for any type of tax.

If an incorrect tax has been applied, an Alteryx workflow will kick into action to ensure it is highlighted in a check file that can be used to correct the data at source.

In short, there is no need for repetitive tasks like this to be causing any tax professional sleepless nights.

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3) How can a small team stay on top of unprecedented VAT changes?

Business scenario:

There seems to be an unprecedented number of VAT changes this year and it’s starting to get me down. In fact, I’m seriously worried that I simply can’t cope any longer and we will soon be non-compliant.

I understand some of the factors that have led to tax authorities changing rates and rules so freely – rising energy prices, the cost of living crisis, Russia’s war in Ukraine and so on. But I was still astounded to read recently that every single European country made key updates to its VAT regime in 2022.

Despite operating globally, we have a small tax team of just five people. How are we supposed to stay on top of all the changes and new regulations?

My advice:

I feel your pain! It can be difficult for even large and experienced teams to stay on top of tax, especially when you consider there are about 200 countries in the world and many alter their rates and rules each and every day.

I would urge you to make Alteryx the key weapon in your battle against non-compliance. Alteryx workflows can be programmed so that every time a tax regulation changes, it automatically updates and the transactions being processed by your ERP or other systems will instantly use accurate rules, ensuring you remain on the right side of the law.

Not only will automated workflows ensure you’re basing calculations on up-to-date information, they’ll also ease the burden on you and your team. For a small team, that’s priceless. It’ll allow you to spend your time staying on top of maintenance and acting on any red flags, rather than working around the clock to check each and every tax return you file.

Indeed, once the foundations are in place with Alteryx, all that’s left for you to do is to focus on maintenance. The technology does the rest!

Your situation reminds me of a project we completed with global telecoms giant Lumen. We created a series of automated process flows within Alteryx to pull data from its SAP and Oracle ERPs that replaced manual entries and steps being undertaken (at great expense) by its team.

It allowed Lumen to produce timely and accurate VAT returns with almost zero human input. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well it’s not with Alteryx.

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4) What’s the best way to future-proof our tax setup amidst global uncertainty?

Business scenario:

I must admit I’m feeling a little daunted by the sheer amount of uncertainty in the world right now. What do you think is the best way for tax teams to future-proof their businesses?

My advice:

Great question! Who knows where the next few years will take us economically, so my top tip is to invest in solutions that allow you to dynamically automate processes.

If you take a short-term view to any particular challenge, it’s likely you’ll have to fix it again before too long. ‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ as they say.

To ensure great results for your team over the next five years and beyond, think about the possibilities that could arise over that period and how your response can be dynamically altered to accommodate a wide range of scenarios.

An investment in Alteryx can deliver a return in as little as a few weeks. It allows you to take processes that might take you 20 days to complete and develop workflows that will run through them in a matter of hours. It’s not hard to see how the rewards can be almost instant.

I can’t think of a better way to put your business on a sound footing ahead of what’s sure to be an unpredictable time.

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5) Should I act now to tackle lack of data visibility?

Business scenario:

I’ve had several systems in place for a number of years to help us manage tax and, generally speaking, I’m happy with how they perform and the results we achieve.

However, I’m growing increasingly concerned about the lack of visibility we have of our data. Some colleagues even joke that the systems I installed are like an aircraft’s black box – incredibly complex and data-heavy but impossible to retrieve information from on a daily basis.

While I still believe in these solutions and want to retain them, the truth is I simply don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. Our senior leadership team is becoming increasingly forensic when it comes to tax and I need to deliver a quarterly report that shows the exact journey my data has taken.

What’s the best way to achieve this?

My advice:

This is something we hear a lot. It’s never been more important to know the exact processes your data has gone through and how your outputs have been reached.

The rapid digitalisation of tax means data needs to be visible in real-time at the touch of a button. It’s the difference between compliance and breaking the law.

Alteryx provides a visual flow of how data is processed at every step of the journey, as well as workflow documentation that gives a full breakdown of exactly what is happening to it.

Also, knowing what is happening to your data is not only essential for reporting to your management. It’s also crucial for ensuring you’re taking the right actions to ensure complete, accurate and compliant results. After all, if you don’t know what your workflows are, how do you know they’re right? You could even have misplaced trust in a faulty solution without realising.

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