Tax teams rarely have chance to catch their breath. Once you’ve managed to create the right structure to achieve compliance, whether that be with a new set of regulations, a new country or territory for the business, or perhaps a new area of business itself, it’s time to move on to the next burning platform of regulatory change that impacts the goal – compliance.
Time and time again, we speak with tax professionals who are focused on the next big regulatory update, whilst managing the BAU agenda. And once it’s completed, they are expected to take that new initiative under BAU control, all whilst being ushered politely onto the next obstacle… and so the wheel turns once more.
Often during sizeable change moments in the tax ecosystem, your emails, roadmaps, agendas and LinkedIn feeds are full to the brim with help, advice, new shiny products and offers of direction as deadlines approach – not to mention the classic fearmongering that is so often associated with major change projects.
Take the UAE as an example. It’s almost six years since its VAT regime went live and businesses are now preparing for the implementation of its cousin, a new Corporate Tax regime.
Of course, there are many years of discussions, negotiations and amendments that have led us to this point.
This timeline of the introduction of new taxes in the UAE shows the amount of preparation required:
We recently asked tax professionals in the UAE: How confident are you in your indirect tax set up?
Respondents were able to choose from the following options:
1) Completely happy – we’re well sorted and future proofed.
2) Satisfied – we think we’re compliant but could do better.
3) Concerned – we’re worried about the quality of data and processes.
4) Unsure – we’re exploring our different options moving forward.
You might be surprised to learn the most popular answer (by some distance) was: Satisfied – we think we’re compliant but could do better.
In my opinion, this response – in which many tax professionals are openly admitting their current processes fall some way short of perfection – is because of the lack of emphasis placed on life after go-live during the planning phase.
From experience, we’ve helped tax teams meet the regulatory requirements placed upon them, with a weather eye on how their solution can be maintained. Of course, many got so stuck on the ‘here and now’ that they don’t think about what life will look like and the impact decisions made to make a deadline will have on their daily tax practices in the medium and long(er) term.
It’s like the approach so many of us take to holidays. We always prepare for a holiday before departure day – whether it’s buying new clothes, arranging transport or planning a schedule of tourist activities – but how many of us also plan for the post-holiday aftermath and rush back into daily life?
Almost nobody, I would guess.
The impact on tax departments
The same applies to tax departments. While the wider company recognises that Tax has to comply with a new regulation or the implementation of a new piece of technology to support business growth/direction in new territories or adapting to new compliance mandates… it’s all hands-on deck in the planning, the preparation and the ‘we can do this’ implementation attitude. But then what? Go-live… everyone has the end of holiday celebration drinks… well done guys, excellent work… and then they all go home…
As a result, you and your colleagues are back to the circus of trying to juggle all aspects of running a modern-day tax function; the BAU along with the additional management of the recent addition to the stable.
Who now maintains this new solution?
Who explores the role your indirect tax solution can play in ensuring you succeed with Corporate Tax for example?
Do you have the internal resources to cope with updates, changes, tweaks or bugs after the A-team have all disappeared
There are so many things that can go wrong post-implementation after the hubbub of project energy fades away, do any of these ring a bell?
- Your users fall back into old habits unless they are trained and guided on the new solution, meaning errors and inefficiencies are likely.
- Users will try to tweak the new solution over time to fit new requirements, potentially damaging the infrastructure you’ve worked so hard to build.
- If staff turnover is high, new colleagues may not even know or understand the solution is in place.
- Unforeseen legislative updates can occur and require immediate action.
How do we help?
We welcome each client to subscribe to our post go-live Support & Maintenance service, meaning you’ll never be on your own.
Innovate’s Support & Maintenance service is carefully designed to:
- Ensure our tax technology experts are at your disposal, they understand your business, they understand the technology and can configure your solution to meet new additional requirements while retaining its core strength and reliability.
- Allow you to raise tickets 24/7, which our team will work to resolve as quickly as possible.
- Maintain your solution all year round, providing you with complete peace of mind.
- Provide you with access (via our triage service) to consultants who were involved in your solution setup all via our 24/7 service desk.
- Give you access to our TwiLyte resource portal, featuring user guides and videos showing you how to tackle all the most common challenges.
- Access all the latest VAT and indirect tax changes from around the world. Has Chile changed a rate? Maybe Malaysia has introduced a new reporting requirement? Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered.
- Pair you with a dedicated Client Success Manager who will take responsibility for ensuring you succeed.
- Help you join a community of tax professionals around the world.
As with any big-ticket item you buy, the aftercare is crucial. In the case of tax, it will ensure your solution, data and people are looked after.
As I’ve already mentioned, the UAE is preparing for the imminent introduction of Corporate Tax.
This is precisely the type of development that makes it the perfect time to review your setup for indirect tax, plot how Corporate Tax can work with it and strategies far beyond the planning and implementation phases.
Our recommendation is to have a support service to lean on, whether it’s every week, every month or every year.
Having that arrangement in place with a specialist that knows your business and solution is a step in the right direction.
Future-proofed solutions + the right support = an easier life for you and your team whatever socio-political-economic impacts are thrown your way – whatever and wherever that might be!