What CEOs and CFOs need to ask about tax
Questions should address risk and results, information, and innovation.
Some of the questions CEOs and CFOs should be asking around tax are, what is my tax risk? How am I mitigating that? What are the things that the tax department is doing mitigate that? And what are the things that we as a company are doing to mitigate that? Do we have enough attention and focus placed on this risk? What about the information and data? Do we have the information and data we need to produce the correct tax results? Is it readily available? Is the technology that we are investing in supporting beyond just the regulatory requirements and tick marks of what each country needs but real innovation and opportunity for us as a business to really turn tax more from a cost center regulatory entity to a value driver in the business? We have a lot of opportunity through tax and that’s one thing I really want to emphasize when it comes down to what CEOs and CFOs should really try and understand about this change in the tax sphere and about this paradigm shift is that this is really an opportunity for them.
Tax has historically been viewed as a compliance function. They (CEOs and CFOs) don’t often want to know about it. It’s like, “Do what we need to do keep us off the front page of The Wall Street Journal and we’ll be very happy. Oh, and by the way, if we can keep our tax rate down to something manageable that will be great. We want to be good corporate citizens, pay some taxes, but you know, we want to make some money here as well.” All of these things are the historical way they have perceived it, but like we said, there’s been a 180-degree shift in not only the risk profile for tax but global awareness for tax and the things that are going to be required, the impact it can have to a business.
CEOs and CFOs, they have to understand that this presents an opportunity for them, not just another task in creating more and more regulation. Because tax is so pervasive, there is real opportunity through technology and strong operations management to realize tax gains which can impact above the line, it can impact below the line, and it can really help drive stronger results and greater economic results for the company.