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Synergy 2018 – What We Learned

By: John P. Bennecke James T. Hedderman Jennifer Crawford Lauren Ansley Peter J. Antonopoulos Bryan Perrone David Flores |

For the 10th year in a row True Partners was Silver sponsor of the 2018 Synergy ONESOURCE conference and our team of tax professionals was out in full force. (Check out our twitter feed for pictures!)  The 2018 conference took place at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, FL – what a fun venue! As usual, the education and training sessions were extremely informative and the off-site evening at Universal Studios was truly memorable. Kudos to Thomson Reuters and the ONESOURCE team for hosting another awesome event.

In case you weren’t able to make this year’s conference, we wanted to summarize some of our key takeaways:

Trend 1: Increased Focus on Automation

ONESOURCE is always looking for ways to make your compliance processes (income tax provisions and tax returns) more seamless and this year automation was all the rage. If you were able to attend a course that included Robotics Process Automation (RPA) technology, also known as BOT technology, Cognitive Automation, Alteryx demos, you noted an intense focus and excitement about what the (near) future may hold for us as tax professionals.  Our team noted one course where it was standing-room only and people were sitting on the floor! I think it’s safe to say users were interested!

From a practical standpoint, one question we heard throughout the week was, what should we automate to help us to become more efficient?  For starters, look for low hanging fruit;  What steps do you repeat on a frequent basis?  Is there information that you gather and document from various sources that can be streamlined and documented in a more efficient manner?  Once you get the data, are you manipulating it from various sources to arrive at a workable format?

Focus on simple tasks which are rule based rather than subjective ones or those that require interpretation.  Once you are able to identify some of the easier tasks and get them automated you can move on to more complex processes.

As you look to further automate, are you considering the impact these changes will have on your internal controls environment?  Changes in the way you gather, support, and conclude on tax matters will impact the controls your organization should consider implementing.

ONESOURCE is currently looking for innovative ways to partner with Alteryx.  The Alteryx Analytics Platform provides the analytic flexibility that companies need to discover, prep and blend, analyze, and operationalize analytic models through a collaborative and governed platform – in a code-free and code-friendly manner.  Alteryx delivers an analytics platform using workflow-based actions that enable the line of business – from analysts to data scientists, to develop reusable analytic workflows to get to more business insights than before.  The goal is to allow users to extract data from ONESOURCE, combine with other data sources, and then leverage Alteryx for custom reporting and visualizations, including predictive modeling.  This provides additional options for management reporting, year over year comparisons, modeling, and more, with fewer resources and less time.  Essentially users can present data however they want!   While development is still ongoing, this appears to open up a lot of opportunities for improving analytic insights – something senior management continues to demand from the tax department.

Trend 2: Focus on International Tax

Thomson Reuters is working to build more enhancements to the international tax modules as Tax Reform marches on.  The §965 Transition Tax calculation was and still is a large undertaking.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) created new rules and uncertainty with the introduction of the Global Intangible Low-Tax Income Tax (“GILTI”), Foreign Derived Intangible Income (“FDII”), and Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (“BEAT”).  As Treasury continues to release Regulations (“Regs”), TPC has been monitoring and building these changes into our models as well.  TPC took notice at the Synergy Conference of the new enhancements Thomson has been developing.  Software providers have been looking for ways to build these calculations into their solutions and international tax practitioners have been looking to see more enhancements in tax technology solutions for the new international tax calculations.  Expect more as we get additional treasury regulations into next year!

Trend 3: Using Technology to Combat Sales and Use Tax Compliance Burdens

With the conclusion in the Wayfair case and the physical presence standard for nexus overturned, many companies will be required to collect and remit sales tax in additional jurisdictions. This significantly increases their compliance burden and companies are turning to technology to help alleviate it.

Sales and use tax professionals are challenged to ensure the accuracy of taxability determinations for products and services sold in newly registered states – not an easy task since state sales tax rules and rates vary wildly. Many of our clients and companies we spoke with at Synergy are looking to the ONESOURCE platform to help them meet increased compliance demands. Now is an opportune time to upgrade your existing determination system.

Partnership as you Adapt and Transform

2018 was a monumental year with the passing of the TCJA, as well as the Wayfair verdict. At Synergy, ONESOURCE executives shared their vision for increased automation, thus creating more opportunities for change in tax departments. We’re not sure we can remember a more challenging tax landscape!

The good news is that True Partners is here to help. As you look to improve processes or implement news solutions, we’re here for you. Let us show you what True Partnership really means. Contact us today.