So are we! Kate Flanagan, Partner and expert in tax careers with Barden Dublin, recently attended the Global Tax Conference, which took place in Dublin.
Taking place over 3 days the event, organised by the Irish Tax Institute and Harvard Kennedy School, brought together the best minds in global tax from over 30 countries.
Here Kate takes you through the key insights you need to know about the impact of global tax reform on the tax employment market in Ireland.
An optimistic future
Having attended the recent Global Tax Conference at Dublin castle, myself and my colleague Aideen Murphy (Partner and expert in tax careers with Barden Cork) came away with great insights into the future of the tax profession in Ireland, and most importantly a lot of optimism!
Global tax reform, tax in a digitalised economy and the future of tax were all topics discussed. Whilst we won’t attempt to analyse the technical matters of such topics, we have identified a couple of areas which may impact the employment opportunities and skills required right now, and in the future for tax professionals in Ireland.
The future of the tax profession – 30% of workers in tax will be out of work!
Mike Williams, HM Treasury, boldly stated “30% of workers in tax will be out of work in 10 years as a result of technology, specifically data”. He explained reform will be driven by technology and the day will come where will be no tax returns & no tax administrators.
Thankfully Jeffrey Owens, Director, Global Tax Policy Center disagreed on that point. He agreed technology will of course impact the tax function of the future, but explained that as tax is such a complex matter, and as transactions will be more complex and broader (even in terms of geographical reach), there will be an even greater demand for tax professionals. Good news!
The other point raised to support the future of the tax profession was around transparency. Within the last 10 years, especially post financial crisis, there has been, and will continue to be a huge focus on transparency. As a result, tax reporting and compliance will increase in importance for a group tax function. It wasn’t discussed in the context of who will actually manage this function (will it be outsourced etc.) but regardless of how it’s managed, tax professionals will need to become tech savvy to manage real time reporting and the impact of data analysis.
International tax expertise is non debatable
The revamp of international tax systems with policies such as BEPS are changing so rapidly that tax professionals with international expertise will be in huge demand. Tax professionals will need to broaden their knowledge of international tax regimes particularly as more developing countries sign up to international tax reform.
It was noted that developing countries, such as some countries in Africa, are commodity based economies and so international changes are not as fit to these countries. Equally they don’t have the same type of tax resources and skills in Africa – will tax professionals in Ireland, and across Europe, be expected to up-skill in knowledge of these tax regimes?
Non-technical skills will become as important as technical skills
It was clear to us that the future tax professionals will need a deep understanding of international tax reforms, and how it can impact clients and or business. However rather than just the technical side of tax, tax professionals will really need to understand the supply chains of their clients businesses, or within their own business (if in-house), to understand how to allocate profits and subsequently determine taxation rights.
Another point that was raised around skills of the future tax profession was an understanding of tax policies at a political level. Countries are so protective of their sovereignty so trying to change tax systems on a consensual basis will prove highly challenging. Tax professionals with the communication skills and ability to deal with policy makers, government officials etc. will be of huge importance.
Demand increased for tax controversy/tax audit & indirect tax expertise
Global public pressure to prevent tax fraud and evasion has and will continue to dominate news headlines.
VAT expertise particularly in dealing with VAT audits across Europe will be required as there’s an increase in investigations. In fact it was described by Jeffrey Owens in the following manner “Europe will be hit by a tsunami of tax disputes over the coming years”. Tax professionals will need to deal with tax controversy issues.
Tax inequality & the environment
Finally, whether or not, it has a direct impact on the Irish tax employment market it was refreshing to have tax inequality and the environment included in the conversations.
Jane McCormick, Global Head of Tax & Legal, KPMG International, pointed out that we need to step back and think of environmental and inequality issues when implementing tax policies and reforms. Governments & corporates need to work together on achieving green, sustainable and fair growth. That can only be a good thing !
If anyone has any further comments on this or would like to add their expertise to these, please feel free to get in touch with your tax team at Barden – the experts in tax careers in Ireland.