Utilizing technology to expand tax capabilities: Get started by envisioning the future

September 2016

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Technology continues to be an innovation springboard for companies in the manufacturing industry, but shouldn’t it enable greater capabilities and efficiencies for their tax functions as well?

PwC and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) recently collaborated on a survey of manufacturing companies to evaluate their tax function and determine:

  • how they are positioned with respect to leading tax technology practices;
  • where they stand in terms of adopting and enabling tax technology initiatives;
  • what operational challenges they are facing;
  • their satisfaction with existing technology; and
  • where they stand with respect to developing a tax technology strategy.

What did we find? Tax functions unfortunately are lagging behind their primary customer—the business—as well as their peers in the broader finance function with respect to the use of technology.

These 2016 survey results are consistent with the results of a similar survey that PwC and MAPI conducted in 2013. Although this year’s survey results show some slight improvement with respect to the industry’s use of tax technology, the bottom line is that tax functions overall have made little progress toward integrating technology into their operations in a meaningful way. As a result, there is a growing gap between the capabilities of the broader finance function and tax.

The companies surveyed understand the importance of creating strategies around tax technology and pursuing related initiatives, but in some cases appear to struggle to develop a business case for investment in these areas. Tax technology investments will help ensure that the tax function is ready for current and future challenges and will play an integral role in transforming tax into a strategic business partner within the organization. Aligning tax technology strategy with finance imperatives can help create the required momentum to make practical first steps toward transformation.

Getting started can be difficult, but senior tax executives need to overcome any barriers and envision the future. Once a vision and roadmap are in place, the journey can begin and the benefits can be enjoyed for years and even decades to come.