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Tax executives: Imagine your biggest challenge and cross it off your list

Jul 23, 2021

It’s not business as usual for many Tax functions

Operational challenges now and on the horizon seem more daunting and complex from those in recent memory, prompting a ‘tipping point’ for many Tax teams. Not surprising, given the unprecedented events and continuing change occurring in US and global tax environments.

Leading Tax functions have multiple arrows in their quiver to address these challenges. But leveraging managed services for specific areas within Tax is quickly becoming a powerful and effective approach for a broad array of problems − small or large. And many teams are finding unexpected benefits, remedying multiple challenges at the same time.

Below are some common challenges that we’re hearing from Tax executives at many businesses...

  • Acquisitions creating inefficiencies…
    Both Tax functions have their own technology platforms, talent base, and processes. How do you integrate into one efficient ecosystem, without disruption during the transition, while keeping costs in check?
  • Material weaknesses shine a light on risk…
    Too many manual tasks, non-integrated systems, not enough review time, and other factors are creating risk due to human error. Increased pressure on staff raises opportunity for mistakes that could impact brand and reputation. 
  • Navigating complex tax laws/regulations...
    The anticipation of new regulations/obligations and potential US and global tax policy changes going forward is presenting a maze of analysis and needed modeling. Tax is running lean without capacity to properly tackle.
  • Human capital can be a scarce resource…
    Attracting and retaining sufficient talent may no longer be viable. The right mix of experience, knowledge, and skills needs to be accessible, but not necessarily for the entire year. And how do you offer opportunities for advancement? 
  • Keeping pace with the digital evolution…
    Technologies like cloud are shifting how business is conducted − Tax must support C-suite analysis with data-driven insights. Tax may not have its own processes and skills to meet business needs as it’s expensive to invest in the ‘latest and greatest’ tools.

What if your biggest problem is no longer an obstacle?

No one approach can yield a complete remedy, but we’re seeing a number of success stories arise when managed services becomes part of the solution. Tax executives are asking how leading Tax functions are embodying this approach. The answer is ‘it depends’. 

‘Managed services’ refers to a wide spectrum of operating models. Many Tax functions are customizing their approach for a specific compliance area, such as federal and state tax, tax accounting and provision, tax controversy, transfer pricing, as well tax planning − depending upon their pain points.

So how does it work? Who does what and when? Models are tailored to help ensure the Tax function has access to talent when they need it most − quickly and with unprecedented flexibility as to transition. Options may include rebadging personnel, but also involve supplementing your team with access to PwC’s robust network of tax professionals. 

Existing technology platforms of the business can be leveraged, but what’s surprising to many Tax leaders is the ability to immediately access PwC’s suite of tools and deep experience with all commercial software. Sharing of know-how is a core component for success among many other factors, such as a seamless transition plan and a multi-layer governance plan that helps keep you in control.

What’s the bottom line? Tax executives are finding that a managed services approach can yield substantial enough benefits that they want to showcase to the C-suite.

Imagine telling the C-suite that the Tax function can…

  • Accelerate efficiencies producing potential cash savings (about 10-20%), in addition to providing more cost certainty for the future
  • Leverage cutting-edge tax technology with no upfront investment cost
  • Present real-time data-driven insights for proposed business changes so that ROI can be calculated on an after-tax basis
  • Utilize a single-workflow solution to enhance oversight over Tax operations, as well as a master data strategy that provides a single source of truth to manage risk
  • Scale its workforce up or down as the business changes and optimize its workforce by maintaining the right mix of experience while addressing recruiting, upskilling, and mobility
  • Access an extensive network of 700 tax professionals with deep know-how that feels like an extension of the in-house team
  • Foster Tax staff by providing a greater range of career opportunities, enhancing their scope of knowledge


The more complex and interdependent the challenges, the greater the need to find holistic solutions that enable balance. For Tax, balancing quality, people, cost, and strategy is a fundamental yet difficult task. Managed services can not only help organizations reach equilibrium more quickly and with less cost, but can help Tax be ready for whatever lies ahead.

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Doug Thomas

Doug Thomas

Emeritus Leader, Insourced Solutions for Tax, PwC US

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