Building a strong, capable and compliant tax team is quickly becoming a top priority for numerous businesses. With sales tax growing in complexity and technology evolving, your clients are likely looking to create their most diverse and skilled tax team yet. But what exactly do they need to look for? How can your clients ensure they have cultivated the right employees to keep the business sales tax compliant? Here are some top tax team skills to look for this year.
Ability to communicate
Different departments must work together. For example, take the tax teams and the IT teams. How is each department going to be impacted by adopting new technology and/or processes to streamline the sales tax process? Additionally, any changes should be communicated to your clients’ bookkeeper – remember that all stakeholders should be kept in the loop. Your clients’ tax team must be able to communicate with various teams, especially when it comes to how tax requirements could impact them.
It's important to have team members who see an opportunity and are willing to make the jump to something new, but they also need to ensure other teams that may be impacted are kept in the loop. For example, a new software system could be needed, but what are the security risks? Does IT know everything they need to know?
Willingness to adapt
Change management is essential for any organization. Tax teams must also be willing to evolve. Sales tax compliance requirements change quickly – can your team do the same? This could entail utilizing new technology or taking the time to learn about new sales tax requirements for a particular jurisdiction. Furthermore, are your clients setting up appropriate training courses for new technology? What about rolling out phased communication plans to impacted teams?
If your business lags, it could lead to unhappy customers. For example, if your business is operating on a system that is delayed in charging the correct sales tax, you will likely need to pay the difference to the state or to customers. Do you run the risk of charging incorrect tax? Do you run the risk of getting products out late?
Technology is changing just as fast as the requirements – can your team keep pace? What sort of training opportunities are you offering? It’s not enough to adopt new technology, but your clients must ensure that employees are trained properly.
Manual processes are all but obsolete – is your team trained on the necessary technology for your business? It’s important for your clients to take manual processes and ensure they understand how new technology can automate them. For example, have you already moved to the cloud, or are you planning to move to the cloud in the short- or long-term?
Working with internal and/or external resources can help to ensure all systems are set up to run daily operations as expected. Your clients need to be hiring technologically savvy employees and/or employees who are willing to learn new systems.
Appreciation of the audit process
Remember: it’s likely not a matter of if your clients will be audited, but when your clients will be audited. Their teams need to be prepared for that scenario. Your clients must ensure that they can compile the necessary documentation in response to an audit. Additionally, data security and managing privacy concerns are now tax-related matters – is your team properly trained? Do they understand th e risks?
A Sovos survey found that 80% of individuals who have responsibility for sales tax management and administration at their organization fear that a mistake of theirs would generate an audit or a financial penalty. Furthermore, 18% worried they would lose the confidence of their manager or get fired for making a sales tax mistake.
Make sure your clients have tax team members who know what is required in the case of an audit, in addition to understanding best practices to maintain compliance.
To brush up on your tax skills, consider joining Sales Tax Institute’s training course April 19-21. Use code sov23live for a discount.