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Special report: The challenges facing tax directors

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The 2013 Affecton Tax Journal survey shows that tax directors are facing major challenges from outside in terms of community, competition and regulation, but the survey also shows that they are being stretched by an internally tripartite of direction, performance and reputation.

Many directors are concerned about resources, roles and relationships at a time when they do not want to create unforeseen surprises for finance directors and company boards. At the same time, tax directors are under pressure to meet investors’ preference for a sustainable competitive tax rate.

The main concern for tax directors in managing the tax department in this new era is having enough people with the right skills and flexibility to drive business forward and meet the demands of finance directors and boards. Only 11% felt fully resourced and only 41% said they had the skills needed. Compliance consumes 56% of time; against an ideal of 43%. Many directors expect to have fewer resources in the future. The implications are more stress and more risk, confirmed by the difficulties reported in implementing tax strategy.

How best to respond to these pressures is not immediately obvious; nevertheless, a more proactive approach should be considered along with strong leadership and the qualities said to be needed of future leaders – influencing, relationships and a strong business sense. A new era gives tax directors the chance to take the lead and introduce changes to create a more efficient and forward looking tax department.