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5 Key Tax Issues for Business Leaders in 2017

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Feb 1st 2017
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In the new year, companies are looking ahead to make the tax laws work for them.

To remain competitive in a new political environment, maximizing tax incentives, engaging in the political process, and installing state-of-the art tax systems can make the difference in driving the success of an organization.

“In an uncertain and disruptive business environment, the watchword for success is ‘nimble,’” Jeffrey LeSage, vice chairman of tax at KPMG LLP, said in a written statement. “Our list of issues highlights how tax can continue to be a key driver of success in 21st-century organizations.”

LeSage and KPMG have compiled a tax-action list for business leaders in 2017, which LeSage said “is critical for organizational success.”

Here are LeSage’s five action items for business leaders in 2017:

1.Monitor the new US tax landscape. For the first time in decades, the chances for substantive tax reform appear good. If Senate Republicans and Democrats can agree to the outlines of a significant tax overhaul, or if Republicans can push through the plan on their own, the possibilities for reform exist.

Issues that will likely be discussed include corporate tax rate reductions, a tax system where only income earned inside the United States is taxed, a border-adjustable tax, and special rates for pass-through income.

“US tax reform is more than just rate reduction, and any plan will likely have winners and losers,” LeSage said. “Company leaders need to model the impact of various proposals, aggressively engage with legislators, and make their voices heard as the process moves ahead.”

2. Unravel international regulation. Companies will continue to grapple with the impact of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting initiative in countries where they operate, especially around country-by-country reporting.

On the plus side, complying with new regulations often can improve business operations.

“Putting in systems that unlock and share tax data and sharing information across the entire organization can give companies a competitive advantage,” LeSage said.

3. Get a handle on compliance issues. New laws, increased demands from global regulators, and a greater risk of tax audits are making tax compliance more complicated, time-consuming, and costly.

“Transforming their tax departments into state-of-the-art, scalable, integrated compliance functions should be on every chief tax officer’s agenda in 2017,” LeSage said. “Being able to access and act on information quickly, with minimal disruption to their business, can reap benefits.”

4. Enhance innovation. In 2017, digital-enabled workforces are a high priority for business leaders. This includes data and analytics, automation, robotics, and cognitive intelligence.

“Combining tax technical knowledge, large sets of data, and powerful new tools can enable chief tax officers to help their organizations make smarter, innovative, real-time decisions that positively impact the bottom line,” LeSage said.

5. Transform tax talent. As the scope and role of the tax function continue to evolve, so do the skills that tax professionals need to be business-minded and digitally-savvy collaborators within their teams and the broader organization.

“Sometimes it’s tough to attract, develop, and retain these professionals in tax departments, but savvy leaders know that investing in rotations, cognitive training, and leadership experience will help their people develop the skill sets and knowledge they need for them and their companies to succeed,” LeSage said.

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