CFO Research Study Shows Tax Executives are Turning to Process Automation to Improve Transparency, Controls, and Efficiency

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Technology seen as key enabler to improve tax effectiveness

Standardization and integration of data for tax and financial reporting purposes are a top priority on the tax function’s information agenda.

Longview Solutions, a leading provider of corporate performance management software and tax provisioning software, announced today the release of a new research study which highlights many of the challenges and opportunities tax executives in North America and Europe are grappling with on a daily basis. The research report titled Improving Corporate Tax Effectiveness: Trends and Technology was prepared by CFO Research Services and underwritten by Longview Solutions. The report is based on a survey of 190 senior tax executives at companies with annual revenues ranging from US$1 billion to more than US$20 billion in the United States, Canada, and Europe and examines their views on tax function effectiveness, their strategic priorities, and their future outlooks.

Key findings of the research include:

  •     Over 80% of respondents are somewhat or much more focused on improving profitability or maintaining cash flow. At the same time, more aggressive enforcement and pressure to increase reporting transparency will continue to test the tax function’s resources in the coming months.
  •     Though under-resourced, many tax departments plan to pursue a wide range of improvements to promote productivity and boost efficiency amid complexity.
  •     Forty-four percent of respondents foresee an important role for technology improvement and an additional 32% confirm it will play a critical role in efforts to improve tax effectiveness.
  •     Standardization and integration of data for tax and financial reporting purposes are a top priority on the tax function’s information agenda.
  •     A substantial number of respondents who agree that it's important for their companies to document the business case for tax technology also say their companies are not well-equipped to document various dimensions of that business case. For example, 40% of respondents who agree that it's important to quantify the return on tax automation also say their companies are not well-equipped to document that aspect of the business case for investment.

As they brace themselves to meet a countless number of new requirements, including increasing pressure for transparency in tax reporting, new (and swiftly-changing) tax legislation, and increasingly aggressive enforcement, many executives responding to the survey seem to place a premium on flexibility. “We are in a new and dynamic period of change–with an almost certain raft of changes in regulatory and tax generation legislation,” one respondent writes in response to an open-ended question. “Being as automated as possible minimizes 11th-hour firefighting by cutting down on human interventions,” the respondent continues.

But the research also confirms that many tax departments have been seriously under-resourced both in terms of human capital and technology through the course of the economic downturn, says Celina Rogers, Director of Research at CFO Research Services. “Regulatory, legislative, and enforcement pressures are ratcheting upward, and tax executives expect those trends to continue,” says Ms. Rogers. “It's also clear from the research that tax executives see the value in tax automation and, more particularly, in integrating processes and systems for financial and tax reporting, as they work to meet those challenges.” But, Ms. Rogers points out, survey results showing some uncertainty among respondents about their ability to make the business case for tax technology investment suggest that vital technology initiatives may go unfunded at many companies. “Building the business case for investment is always important, but in an environment of extremely scarce resources and uncertainty about the strength of the recovery, the ability to convincingly document the business case for investment is critical. Tax departments that aren't able to do so are likely to see technology and other improvement initiatives go unfunded,” she says.

“As a thought leader in the area of tax technology, we feel it is important to conduct third party research to ensure we have a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities our clients face day in and day out,” said John Power, President, Longview Solutions. “These tax executives are struggling to help their companies improve profitability without the tools and automation necessary to help with the heavy lifting. The good news is that we have a solution, and can help build the business case that is clearly required to move these projects forward.”

The CFO Research report is available to download for free at http://www.cforesearch.com

About CFO Research Services
CFO Research Services is the sponsored research group within CFO Publishing LLC, which publishes CFO magazine.

About Longview Tax
Longview Tax streamlines and automates tax data collection, tax provisioning and tax planning for today’s global organizations, employing best of breed data management and global collaboration capabilities. Using Longview’s open technology, information is automatically collected from any source system in any currency, yielding a single repository of financial information.

For more information, please visit http://www.longview.com/tax

About Longview Solutions
Longview Solutions provides corporate performance management (CPM) and tax provisioning software that leading companies such as Trustmark, Time Warner, Home Depot, Ingersoll Rand, JC Penney, and GE Healthcare use to drive performance with speed, visibility and financial integrity. Since 1994, many of the world's most respected companies have been using our technology platform to create a single repository of financial truth from which statutory consolidation, management reporting, financial planning, modeling, analysis, budgeting, forecasting and tax reporting can be performed quickly and accurately, enterprise-wide. Longview is an Exact Software company headquartered in Toronto, Canada with additional offices in Philadelphia, Chicago (USA) and London (UK).

For more information, visit http://www.longview.com or contact:

Longview Solutions
Jennifer Bentley
905-513-5210
jbentley@longview.com

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