How Data & Analytics tools can improve your tax function

15 August 2018

Tax functions are under pressure to become more efficient and aligned with the business, whilst also handling greater amounts of information. All against the backdrop of increasingly complex regimes. Could data and analytics provide a solution?

When most finance teams think of using data and analytical tools to improve decision making, the tax function probably isn’t the first area which springs to mind. However, in my experience there’s massive potential to:

  1. create efficiencies
  2. improve insight of tax KPIs
  3. improve stakeholder reporting

This is split into two main areas: The first is using data manipulation tools (such as Alteryx or Trifacta) to take the pain out of repetitive tasks, for example, quarterly tax consolidation or analysing expenses for your corporate tax return. Using tools such as these not only reduce time (freeing staff to focus on analysis and insight rather than data gathering and formatting), but also reduce the risk of errors and replacing menial, repetitive tasks which don’t add much value.

The second area is using visualisation tools to both improve oversight of your tax data and to improve communication with stakeholders through the use of interactive dashboards. Whilst tax has become a bigger and bigger issue in boardrooms, for many organisations the reporting around it hasn’t changed, with an unexciting mix of Excel and Powerpoint being the tools of choice when presenting to senior stakeholders.

Tableau screenshot

Example tax dashboard

In this area, we look at how we can use software such as Tableau and Power BI to improve reporting. The results are increased engagement in tax matters from senior staff, due to the accessibility that the software provides. The example above shows how you can present tax return data using a single Tableau dashboard, enabling the user to drill into areas of interest and spot values (e.g. tax adjusting items) that might have otherwise of been missed.

When considering upgrading your activity in this area (or indeed any technology solutions), it’s key to assess the human side of any change; primarily do you have staff within the tax function with the right skillset to use them going forward?  This isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, however, it’s important for tax functions to start to consider data and analytics skills when both recruiting and setting the internal training policy, as we’re doing at PwC.

How can PwC help? We can help you explore solutions using software such as Tableau, Alteryx and Power BI to improve the way your tax function works. Along with designing new processes and providing training to your staff to upskill them and manage software going forward. If you’d like to find out more please contact: Tom Harrold.


Tom Harrold | Tax Data and Analytics
Profile | Email | +44 (0) 7701 297208

More articles by Tom Harrold

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