By David Hillegass, Senior Manager, SALT Indirect Tax
Anthony Sorrentino, an Associate Director in GTM’s Tax Automation Services (TAS) practice, and I recently returned from the TEI 2020 Tax and Technology Seminar in Scottsdale, AZ, where we were a sponsor. The event featured a number of excellent insights and products in the tax technology space aimed at advancing tax departments into more developed stages of technology utilization. Through real-life use cases, the sessions highlighted that tax departments need to be adopters of technology. The use of technology in streamlining processes allows tax departments to free up resources for more value-added work.
But the key takeaway? If tax technology is going to reach its full potential, providers and tax departments must work together seamlessly.
The Technology & Service Provider Side
On the technology provider side, there was an eclectic mix of both tax service providers and tax software vendors in attendance. This highlights the fact that we, as service providers, work in tandem with software providers to ensure optimization of the internal tax department functions for our shared clients. Over the course of two days, Anthony and I spoke with software vendors that really keyed in on the fact that the tax software providers, being in the business of developing and maintaining tax technologies, rely on service providers to assist tax departments in the implementation of the software. During implementation, the reliance falls on the tax departments and service providers to develop best practices around the software, employ applicable processes, and then champion the adoption of that software. It’s never enough to find the right software for a tax department; it must be implemented and deployed to fit the exact needs of the tax team.
One software that seemed to be on display throughout the conference was Alteryx. Though Alteryx has been around for a while, it is fascinating to see the growth of this software in recent years within the tax arena. Numerous use cases presented at the conference had Alteryx somewhere in their tax function process. This is not surprising as GTM is assisting more and more clients with evaluating whether or not Alteryx is a good fit for them and setting up Alteryx processes in their own tax departments. In addition, with regard to GTM’s own indirect tax compliance outsourcing model, Alteryx has become an invaluable resource. With technologies like Alteryx, we are able to streamline sales tax compliance, use tax reviews, and property tax data manipulations.
The Tax Department Side
Another key takeaway from this conference was the challenges that tax departments seem to be facing with acquisitions. Overall, the difficulty for companies is integrating the acquired company into the environment and culture. For the tax department specifically, the problem lies in integrating the acquired company into the tax reporting requirements, which really means integrating the acquired company into the tax reporting and preparation software. This challenge seems to be exacerbated by changes in tax law as well as potential new reporting jurisdictions that come along with an acquisition. As acquisitions have been picking up for a number of years now, tax departments are finding it hard to keep up.
The conference was able to demonstrate how best practices and technology can help with handling these issues. It was clear that proper first-time setup of the acquisition entity into the various tax reporting and compliance tools is critical to a successful acquisition integration, which would allow for an easier road come compliance time.
Overall, the conference demonstrated just how vital technology and its implementation can be to tax departments. Getting the right technology in place, and in place correctly the first time, paves the way for a confident tax function. More importantly, the number and variety of attendees showed just how serious tax departments are about building and continually enhancing their tax technology stack.
Learn more about GTM’s Tax Automation Services (TAS).