Client: Canada-based precious metals producer
Like the rest of the business at a Canada-based precious metals producer, the tax team needed to keep pace with technological change. Seeking to help the company with its goals of producing precious metals profitably and responsibly, the Vice-president of Taxation led a tax transformation exercise aimed at reducing labour-intensive tasks and freeing up time for more value-added work.
Previously, the company’s tax data was housed in a variety of Excel spreadsheets and, over the years, this system had become inefficient and unwieldy. While the initial solution involved the purchase of new tax software for calculating the tax provision, it didn’t integrate well with the company’s multiple enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. That meant staff would spend days inputting tax data into the system before they could analyze it.
Because this process was so onerous, staff abandoned the tax software and went back to using their legacy Excel spreadsheets—which didn’t solve the original problem. They were spending too much time on inefficient processes, such as importing spreadsheets and trial balances, which kept them from focusing on more in-depth analysis of the data.
In line with the mining sector’s move to increase technology adoption, the company created an innovation department tasked with overseeing the potential use of automation and robotics at its mining sites. Creating an innovation department signalled the importance of digital transformation across the company. As a result, the tax team was able to get high-level support for transforming its own processes.
The tax team once again began looking for ways to automate its processes, with a particular focus on transfer pricing. The idea was to find a way to help staff spend less time on labour-intensive tasks, such as loading balance sheets and trial balances into Excel spreadsheets, and free them up for more value-added processes, such as review and analysis.
“Staff don’t want to spend time loading balance sheets and trial balances into software or Excel spreadsheets. That’s not where the value is. So automation frees them up to do value-added work.”
While the company is still in the process of digital transformation, the tax team has so far fully rolled out its automated transfer-pricing processes across its properties, including at mining operations in South America. Having all of the data in one place not only saves time, but it also helps the tax team analyze the information at an earlier stage.
Automation has also simplified tax preparation work. Staff no longer have to review every single form, which frees up more time for answering queries and addressing issues with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Without the transfer-pricing project in place, the company would have faced more reassessments, which increases costs. As the company moves forward in its digital transformation journey, the tax team will continue to automate its processes and focus on value-added areas of the business.
National Tax Leader, PwC Canada
Partner, Canadian Markets Leader, Tax, Calgary, PwC Canada