By Frank Byrt
Combine an uncertain economic environment, increased government regulations, and the number of Baby Boomers retiring, and you have a sharp increase in demand for seasoned corporate tax professionals, according to a study by the US tax professional recruiting firms TaxSearch Inc., TaxTalent.com, and the United Kingdom-based BPA.
The report, 2013 United States and European Union Tax Market Assessment, says "there are critical areas in the corporate tax profession that have an increasing need for staffing at a time of limited supply of talent."
Regarding the US market, the report states",Demand for tax professionals across the board will remain high as lower supply will continue to elevate the need for increased compensation levels and incentives that reduce turnover. Companies will have to keep a close eye on salary levels and make compensation moves that help maintain staffing integrity."
"We are in a generational anomaly", Tony Santiago, president of TaxSearch and TaxTalent, said in a February 27 press release. "Baby Boomers, who have led the profession for years, are less interested in this difficult tax market. Boomers will start exiting while Gen Xers and the Millennials are still trying to secure their career paths without the same skill level. Add to that an increasingly complicated tax environment here in the US and abroad."
"This is a much more difficult environment than ever before, given the demographic problem hitting right now", Santiago told AccountingWEB in an interview. Many senior staff are retiring or cutting back on their hours, and many of those just entering the profession aren't willing to put in the long hours during tax season that most of their predecessors had to in order to advance in their firms.
Other factors making tax planning difficult for corporations and upping the demand for experienced tax-planning professionals are the uncertainties companies face on the tax front as Congress wrestles with its debt ceiling, and state and local taxing entities are also looking at new ways to raise revenue, Santiago said.
Senior corporate executives shouldn't get complacent in recruiting tax staffers, because tax-planning complexity is sure to increase, and demand for the most highly skilled professionals will result in higher rates of employee turnover, he said.
"Most companies are beyond the initial regulatory scare of tax accounting and reporting (SOX)", Santiago said in the press release. "Now, tax departments are facing new pressures to raise shareholder value while saving cash in a very tough economic climate."
TaxSearch and TaxTalent are paid by employers seeking workers and also provide informational services to job seekers. In 2012, search activity by employers rose 44 percent, following a 40 percent increase in 2011.
Santiago said companies that may try to solve their worker shortage by shipping tax work to low-cost countries overseas will find that challenging. "Our tax code is just too complex. It's unlike that anywhere else in the world."