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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

How to Get Ahead of Global Tax Reform in the Cloud

By Marc Seewald, Senior Director, EPM Product Development, Oracle

It has been quite a journey since the tax reform package passed at the end of 2017. It’s hardly an understatement to say that the legislation is the biggest overhaul of the US tax code in more than 31 years. These new rules that many companies are viewing as “business reforms” make financial and tax transformation necessary. Combine this with other recent taxation changes, such as the OECD’s country-by-country reporting and SAF-T, and the impacts on financial systems and reporting are easily on par with Sarbanes-Oxley and Y2K.

While corporations are welcoming the (potential) tax-rate decrease, provisions of the law are also adding complexity to business decision-making and introducing tough new reporting requirements as required by new tax rules such as GILTI, BEAT and FDII.

For example, since the tax reform package was passed, US-based companies have been incented by lower tax rates to repatriate billons in foreign profits, significantly expanding cash-on-hand. One result is that more businesses are using the cash to pursue M&A and other investment opportunities. Other business impacts are emerging as companies begin to digest and “operationalize” the tax reforms — such as impacts to the corporate legal entity structure and supply chain. Finance teams have been working overtime to assess and model the impact of the reform bill on future earnings and investor expectations.

The new tax law puts a premium on gathering and analyzing high quality data. For example, new reporting rules — such as GILTI (global intangible low-taxed income),  BEAT (base erosion and anti-abuse tax) and FDII (foreign derived intangible income) — require complex calculations that draw from multiple data sources, operational systems, legal entities and trading partners. Gathering the data can be a tall order for organizations that have relied primarily on spreadsheets to piece the information together. Also slowing the process is the lack of consistent standards used by different controller organizations that large enterprises maintain around the world.

The good news is that tax reporting cloud services are helping companies automate compliance with the tax reform laws; the cloud offers an efficient platform for developing and executing smart business strategies to make the most out of the new regulatory landscape. Oracle partner PwC has developed a set of tax reform accelerators that facilitate data acquisition, process and dashboard analytical tools to facilitate forecasting and planning as well as compliance. They've also developed a target operating model to support analysis of GILTI, BEAT and FDII based on a client having multiple sources of data from structured and unstructured sources. 

When we talk with finance professionals, they say that compiling the data needed to comply with the new rules is one of their top operational challenges. These same challenges, by the way, also hold true outside the US, where countries are now working on their own tax reform plans.

Operationalizing Tax Reform with Cloud Services

In the new tax reform era, tight coordination with groups outside of tax will be critical. And this is one of the major advantages of a new generation of cloud services, including Oracle EPM Cloud. Cloud services can link disparate organizations and data sources on a single platform, driving rapid communications between tax teams and management, and giving decision-makers a holistic view of how tax policy changes can affect the business.

For example, cloud applications designed for tax reporting can allow teams to “reach back” to source transactional data and access subledger entries from financial systems that were previously hard to get. Oracle EPM Cloud also provides a rich set of tools to speed tax reporting and improve tax-processing efficiency, including:

  • Tax-management dashboards with graphical charts and country-by-country breakdowns
  • Easy-to-fill-out webforms to accelerate collection of unstructured data
  • Automated translation engines to support global deployment

5 Reasons You Need Cloud-based Tax Automation

  1. New data requirements are massive. Tax reform compliance calls for a systems-led approach to automate data collection and reporting.
  2. New tax provisions are inter-related. Systems need to integrate complex data extraction and modeling efforts.
  3. Guidance is fluid. You need a system to collect the right data and provide flexibility to manage periodic changes in guidance.
  4. Timelines are compressed. You need robust systems to automate the mapping of data into preset models to meet deadlines on an annual and interim forecasting basis (i.e. GILTI).
  5. Risk of financial misstatements is significant. Large data sets, complex processes, and changing guidance will force many businesses to find technology-based solutions to improve tax planning efforts.
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PwC Tax Reform Accelerators

I recently participated in a webcast with PwC, which works to empower businesses to get the most out of tax reform. PwC focuses on creating a strategic roadmap to help clients compile and analyze tax data and develop a strategic approach to automating core tax processes. Their approach includes:

  • Understanding the enterprise IT roadmap
  • Mapping data inputs and analytical requirements (compliance and forecasting solutioning)
  • Aligning potential structural changes to re-platforming initiatives

This strategic approach to tax planning automation aligns the new tax requirements to your current ERP, EPM and supply chain landscape, leveraging existing cloud and on-premises investments as much as possible. We work with your finance, tax and IT teams to enhance your overall tax planning and reporting capabilities, embed controls, and adopt tax provision technologies that can help address your complex global tax accounting needs.

Watch PwC’s webcast to learn more about how you can leverage cloud solutions to streamline tax operations in the post-reform era. 

 

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