2021 Middle East Tax Leaders Survey

The business perspective on tax transformation

The Middle East tax landscape is changing faster than ever before. This change brings with it long-term and far-reaching implications for organisations across the region. 

We decided it was time to ask leading tax decision makers about the challenges they are facing, and their strategic plans for the next 12 months and beyond. 

This year, we conducted the region's first Middle East Tax Leaders Survey, gaining insights into key tax trends across 12 countries and multiple sectors, and identifying next steps in building a vision for the future of tax.

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“There has never been a more important time to take a temperature check of the region, and create a view from our tax leaders on their biggest challenges and strategic priorities.”

Mark SchofieldTax and Legal Services Leader, PwC Middle East

Explore the 3 key themes from the findings

The risk factor
Tax disputes are rising, but only 10% feel equipped to manage to one
The technology gap
Data quality is the biggest issue and the need to automate is climbing up the agenda
The collaboration advantage
Only 33% of businesses have a fully integrated tax function, and 70% identify the need to build better relationships with authorities

70% of organisations say managing risk is their biggest challenge.

Despite the growing number of audits in the region, and the uncompromising approach taken by tax authorities, many organisations do not yet feel equipped to deal with an audit, should it arise. Tax risk is high on the agenda, and a rigorous approach to compliance will help businesses become more transparent and prepared for tax authority demands.

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Only 10% of organisations report having a mature tax technology system.

Technology is becoming more central to the process of tax compliance, both to help organisations manage growing complexity, and also to streamline, generate and automate information for tax authorities. 

Many of our respondents recognise that investing in appropriate technology is going to be key in getting ahead of increasing requirements, but many point to a number of barriers they have yet to overcome on their tax transformation journey, with lack of budget being the number one issue.

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Only 33% of organisations say that their tax function is fully integrated within their business, and just 12% say that they have a strong relationship with tax authorities.

Collaboration is a key component of successful tax operations, but for many, the tax function is still working in relative isolation from the rest of the business. Developing closer ties and more seamless interactions between the tax function and senior finance leadership, whilst also continuing to build and cement relationships with tax authorities and external advisors is critical.

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Next steps

Our report identifies some critical actions for businesses to take in order to build an efficient and robust tax function to weather today’s existing challenges and transform for the future.

Ensure tax has a seat at the top table

Tax should be an essential element of strategic decision-making across the business.

Secure the budget

Make a clear business case for the budget, to upgrade the tax function and be ready to deal with the expected rise in legislation and complexity.

Automate & digitise

The tax authorities have the latest technology available, and real-time reporting and compliance is moving closer. Organisations must commit to an investment in digital technology that will allow their tax function to keep pace.

Transform & upskill

The tax function of the future is technology-driven and strategically-focused – and that means that inhouse tax skills need to evolve with it.

Build relationships with the tax authorities

A personal relationship and regular contact with tax authorities will help to smooth inevitable encounters in the future.

Contact us

Jochem  Rossel

Jochem Rossel

Tax & Legal Services Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 50 225 6909

Jay Riche

Jay Riche

Partner | TLS Tax Strategy & Transformation Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 56 385 4717

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