Strategizing International Tax Best Practices – by Keith Brockman

Posts tagged ‘Board of Directors’

Action is not optional: Risk Management Study

This informative study by Accenture is based on a survey of 446 organizations, with the phrase “Action is not optional” as a key driver for its insights.

http://www.accenture.com/Microsites/risk-management-research/2013/Documents/download/Reports/Accenture-Risk-Management-Research-For-An-Era-Of-Greater-Uncertainty-Report.pdf

The value of this study is initially revealed in the Contents, including the following topics:

  1. Current market pressures
  2. Becoming a high-performance risk organization
  3. Risk management talent
  4. Four things to do differently:
  • Treat risk management as a people game
  • Look ahead, as new risks are relentless
  • Manage compliance through a transformational lens
  • Focus on insight, not just data and analytics

Key excerpts from the study:

  • It is easy to say what the risks are, but if you do not have the instruments to see them or hear them coming, that is a problem.
  • 96% of risk management owners now report directly to the CEO.
  • “Risk Masters” are organizations with highly developed risk capabilities, likely to have a CRO, active Board involvement, adequate resources and budgets, integration of risk management in strategic decision-making, focus on strategic and emerging risk, talented staff and training programs and are ahead of the curve in using risk analytics.
  • Weighted priority on compliance requirements ahead of business value and newer hazards.
  • Risk management ownership is an executive board-level position, moving from the CFO to the CRO and CEO.
  • The goal is to infuse risk management comprehensively into business processes.
  • The least developed risk capability is risk organization and governance.
  • HIgh-performance risk management organizations have a people strategy of identifying, training and rewarding risk management talent.
  • Focusing on the “next war” may require a strategic plan for the risk management function, an integrated approach and direct involvement of senior management.

All Multinationals should have a prioritized objective for global risk management, and this study is instrumental in developing “Risk Masters” capabilities.

EY survey: Tax risk awareness gaps

http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/2012-13-Canadian-tax-governance-survey/$FILE/2012-13-Canadian-tax-governance-survey.pdf

This insightful survey, published by Ernst & Young, polled Canadian executives from 120 companies to review the tax level awareness in organizations.  The findings include the following observations:

  • 56% of non-tax business unit leaders are unfamiliar with risk management policies.
  • 7% of time spent by the tax function is devoted to tax risk management reporting.
  • 15% of tax risks and opportunities are identified timely.
  • Over 50% of the respondents are planning to improve existing tax risk policies and procedures.
  • Significant areas of tax risk requiring improvement include transfer pricing processes and controversy, foreign tax planning, and legal entity accounting.

The findings should be compared to current Best Practices within every organization.  Some ideas for consideration include:

  1. Develop / review the Tax Risk Management Policy.
  2. Communicate all significant tax risks, and corresponding Tax Risk Management Policy, to business leaders globally.
  3. Prioritize tax risk awareness, including reputation risk, in business reviews and training.
  4. Measure the time spent by the tax function on tax risk awareness and internal controls.  (Refer to 23 June blog posting)
  5. Develop a system to measure tax risks on a quarterly basis to address potential issues timely.
  6. Conduct tax risk workshops with the business leaders.
  7. Review significant risks, noting areas for improvement, and establish a timeline to address such risks.
  8. Address tax risk management as a priority agenda item for the global tax function.
  9. Develop an efficient process to address tax controversies around the world.

Tax risk awareness is a critical issue that should be prioritized within an organization, ensuring alignment with the CFO and Board of Directors.

Board Oversight and Responsibilities for Tax Risk Management

http://www.cica.ca/focus-on-practice-areas/governance-strategy-and-risk/directors-series/director-briefings/item74308.pdf

http://www.itdweb.org/documents/Erle.pdf

Two excellent articles are linked to review Best Practices for tax risk management from a Board perspective.  The first article is by the Canadian Chartered Professional Accountants and poses various questions and concepts for Directors to ask.  The second article, approached from a practitioners point of view, was written by a KPMG partner.  A related article is also attached as reference at the end of this posting.

The first article reviews various tax risks, including risks of tax planning and subsequent implementation, financial disclosures, tax compliance and audits.  Examples of interesting insights and questions include the following:

  • Are outside consultants an integral part of tax planning?
  • Are direct, and indirect, tax risks addressed?
  • What are the capabilities of internal resources?
  • Are post implementation monitoring processes in place?
  • What are the trends of tax authorities in major jurisdictions?
  • How does the company keep up with change?
  • Is reputational risk considered in tax appeals or court filings?
  • What is the mindset of internal management in foreign jurisdictions re: alignment of overall strategies?
  • What are the source of tax planning ideas?
  • Have tax saving opportunities been missed?

The second article entitled “Tax Risk Management and Board Responsibility” defines a  tax philosophy and establishment of a Tax Risk Framework.  A tax philosophy pyramid is presented that correlates to tax risk.  In addition, the following components of a Tax Risk Management Strategy are discussed:

  • Strategy
  • Risk management
  • Tax profile, relationships and communication
  • Processes and technology
  • Internal qualifications of tax staff

Both articles are excellent reading, and should form a basis for Best Practices to ensure alignment with Board responsibilities and expectations.

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