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One minute with... Kate Curnow

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What’s keeping you busy at work at the moment?
With the fast moving international tax landscape, it is essential to have an agile tax team that can respond effectively. Recruiting the right people is obviously a key part of that but it is just as important to me to make sure that the existing team has the right support and training.
In the past, a key focus was keeping tax knowledge current and up to date (and making sure the team was sufficiently integrated with the business to be able to apply that knowledge). Whilst that remains important, there is also a need to have people who are IT literate and can interrogate systems, extract data and understand what it means.
What’s the key tax challenge facing your industry sector?
Brexit and what it will bring, particularly in terms of the customs relationship with Europe, is obviously a challenge facing a number of industry sectors but for us in the automotive sector it is of particular concern, given our integrated value chain.
As with so much in the tax world currently, it is not just the tax bill itself that is of concern but the administrative burden that goes with it.
Are there any new or draft rules that are causing a particular problem?
Across Europe, we are seeing an increasing demand for real time information and digital tax and accounting submissions. No more do we have the luxury of time to prepare, review and, if necessary, correct tax filings. These demands result in two distinct challenges: how do we make sure that the data is accurate at source?; and how do we meet each country’s specific requirements as efficiently as possible?
Whilst these challenges are very pressing at the moment, I am hopeful that in the long run I will look back on them as being positive. By addressing these issues, we should improve the way we manage our taxes, and free up our team to provide more support to the business.
If you could make one change to UK tax law or practice, what would it be?
Whilst I understand the desire of the UK tax authorities to see multinational companies as homogenous entities, in practice, groups are often made up of disparate and autonomous entities. The current practice of making allowances available on an ‘accounting group’ basis creates a significant compliance challenge. Another good example of this is the legislation requiring multinational groups to publish their UK tax strategies. A lot of time was needed to work through the legislation and guidelines to conclude which entities were and were not included.
What’s your view on outsourcing of tax work? How do you strike the right balance between keeping control in-house and outsourcing?
This is a really difficult question. Outsourcing offers many benefits, from freeing up the time of the in-house team to provide more business support, through to meeting the need for expertise in a particular technical area. However, I believe that in order for outsourcing to be successful you must have an in-house team who can manage it effectively. The in-house team needs to have the skill and knowledge to challenge the outsourcing team and, just as important, the time to do so. It is definitely a balancing act.
Tell us a secret about yourself…
Whenever I get the chance, I love to spend time in France. Over the years, I’ve taken various opportunities to live and work in France, from the ERASMUS programme as a student to a part time secondment for eight months, where I worked in the UK on Monday, Thursday and Friday and in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday. I spent a lot of time on the Eurostar!  
Issue: 1399
Categories: One minute with