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Internal & External Training Programmes Should Help Businesses In Tax Affairs

"Tax professionals are expected to partner with business more than ever, unlearn traditional taxation principles, and learn new ones" Rahul Patni, EY India

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While the tax function even a decade ago relied almost exclusively on tax and technical skills, organisations today are in search of talent capable of managing new technology challenges. The core competencies of tax professionals, in just the next three years, will move from ‘tax and technical skills’ to ‘process and technological skills’. 

Rahul Patni, Tax Digital Leader, EY India talks about challenges and skills needed for employees to adapt to financial and business operational changes.

How is technology bringing about a change in the finance/Tax department? What are the new challenges for employees in trying to adapt to the changes?

“Digital” is radically altering businesses and their operating models, resulting in round-the-clock border-less markets. Tax policymakers and administrators are responding to these changes by updating tax principles & laws. Also, tax administrations are harnessing the power of new technologies like Big data analytics to improve tax administration, counter frauds, increase taxpayer compliance & tax base.

In this new Digital world, tax professional/ employees are expected to partner with business more than ever, unlearn traditional taxation principles, learn new ones and gear for the new age of Digital and Transparent tax compliance framework. This is resulting in some of the following challenges for employees/ tax professionals:

1. Need for correlation & reconciliation in data across multiple statutory filings

2. Increased need for better quality of data

3. Increased need to focus on value-added activities to respond to revenue audits etc

4. Need for increased partnering & collaboration with business

What skills or courses can help CFOs/ Tax Heads to understand financial and business operations?

The new tax technology paradigm shift will make it important for Tax Heads/ senior in-house tax employees to be proficient in the use of technology tools and platforms. To begin with, knowledge of maximizing use of ERPs, data analytics, excel marco programming, and robotic process automation would help in releasing time for productive activities.  

How do you prepare the workforce with the right skills keeping in mind the speed of technological advancements?

Organizations require appropriate digital skill sets to gather & analyze data to develop business insights. This can be achieved through upskilling or reskilling existing resources in business & tax teams. Companies should look at introducing internal or external structured training programmes. Organizations need to drive a cohesive change touching people, systems, and processes without business disruption. One of the approaches that can be adopted is 2*4 gradual digital immersion journey:

  • 2 hours of digital awareness
  • 2 days of digital immersion workshop
  • 2 months for digital strategy development
  • 2 years of tax transformation & change management

How difficult is it to shift from traditional metrics to advancements in financial/ tax operations?

The key to achieving a transformation in the existing tax function would be to drive the digital agenda right at the senior management level & embed this in organization vision & strategy. 

How can organizations lead the way in learning and close the skill gap both for their employees and for their organization at large?

Organizations need to embark on a tax technology & transformation journey by embedding the digital agenda in their vision & strategy. This can be done either by setting up centres of excellence or specific alignment with business units or a distinct centralized unit. A thorough assessment of current tax function – its processes & existing scale of automation followed by a robust plan for implementation to achieve the desired future state of automation would be the key. Support and change driven from top management are also crucial.

On an overall basis, those who are able to articulate benefit well for the company (eg efficiency, data quality, risk management, etc) and its people (eg re-skilling to succeed in Digital world, reducing time spent in unproductive activities, ability to value-add, etc) will be able bridge the skill gap faster and bring benefit to the organisation.   

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tax professionals cfos Robotic Process Automation

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