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How Corporate Tax Departments Are Evolving – The Remote Tax Workforce

Kat Jennings

While recently reading BNA Bloomberg’s 2019 Survey Findings on How Corporate Tax Departments Are Evolving, I found its mention of the growing deficit in tax talent interesting. With the majority of tax departments surveyed reporting difficulty in hiring and retaining talent, I want to jump in and share views of my own experiences on the subject matter. The talent pool is changing rapidly. While tax organizations struggle to identify the tax expertise they need, there are actually contributing factors to the rapid evolution of the tax profession. This article will address the factors surrounding the changing talent pool with corporate tax expertise.

The tax professional of the present and future is evolving rapidly. What is contributing to these changes? There are four things that come to mind quickly: baby boomers retiring in large numbers, changes in tax laws globally, changes in technology and changes in expectations of corporate tax roles today. Baby boomers are those born between the years 1946 and 1964 with the first baby boomers reaching the retirement age in 2011. There are about 76 million boomers in the U.S. representing about 29 percent of the current population. With the Census Bureau estimating about 10,000 baby boomers retiring daily, many still want to work part-time. Every day someone in tax is retiring.

Another factor often not mentioned are the changes in tax laws globally. There was a big exodus of tax expertise due to tax reform in 1986 and the same is happening today with the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act. With all these tax law changes comes a lot more risk and many simply are uninterested in relearning all the new rules at this stage. As a result, more tax executive retirements are occurring at a faster pace than ever before. The demands and responsibilities on a corporate tax executive working in a multinational corporation are staggering today. Many of the tax executives I work closely with are on the corporate clock working in Europe, the U.S, and Asia all in a days’ time. They are managing hundreds of tax jurisdictions nationally and internationally in addition to dealing with each jurisdiction Auditor(s).  The constant demands on them are very high to reduce a company’s overall tax risk.

With the changes in tax responsibilities also comes a requirement in changes in their knowledge base. New technology is forcing tax executives to understand how it is built into the corporate financial operations and how it impacts their tax work. We hosted a private invitation to tax executives last year in which I invited technology consultants to discuss the challenges tax executives face. The biggest issue is that company’s purchase tax technology that may have been improperly set up. How are tax executives to know until some Auditor identifies a mistake? Technology Implementation errors are plentiful these days and it is no fault of the tax executive. It is simply another risk they are dealing with in running a corporate tax operation. Most of the tax organizations I work with are understaffed these days which simply results in increased errors and  risk on the shoulders of tax executives.

The fourth evolution I will mention in the rapidly changing tax professional work force is the desire to work remote. In the words of my colleague, Director of Research Eileen Harris, “The large number of people who contact us about working remote is stunning. The needs and wants of the tax professional community have changed dramatically over the past few years.” Baby boomers want to stay engaged in the world of tax and they desire the freedom and flexibility to work remotely. They are a remarkably talented group of tax advisors and you will find many of them are available to consult and want to work remotely. We enjoy attracting these highly educated and experienced tax professionals to and encourage companies to reach out to them for their tax expertise on a consulting basis. There is no hand holding needed as they are very responsible and get the work done. The increased desire to work remotely is changing the tax work force rapidly.

Written By Kat Jennings, TaxConnections CEO

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TaxConnections is where to find leading tax experts and technology around the world. Discover tax professionals who offer you a wide range of tax expertise and be informed about the technology that supports them in operating efficiently and successfully.

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Kat Jennings, CEO