The future of tax teams in the age of digital transformation

Pete Rhodes New

Rapid digital transformation and the process of embedding progressive technology into traditional tax systems are key areas that are set to change the future of work for tax teams in Australia. 

Global Head of Tax at Aristocrat, Pete Rhodes, shares his insights on facing the biggest challenges in managing global digital change, and why he has decided to invite his entire team to the Tax Summit. Pete Rhodes’ experience spans across many years in international tax law, previously acting as an advisor to corporate clients for PWC and splitting his time between their London, New York and Sydney offices.

Challenges in the profession

With tax laws and regulatory reassessment constantly changing, keeping up to date is an ongoing challenge. Pete shares how managing multinational changes is the foremost challenge professionals face when dealing with tax.

“You get laws coming out of America that have retrospective applications, then you get laws coming out trying to tax digital businesses and that means that a company in Australia might end up having a tax bill in Venezuela! But you find out about it afterwards, so it’s hard to stay on top of it,” says Pete.

Pete highlights that traditional legislative structure in tax laws, which were originally designed for traditional business models are no longer relevant in today’s multinational environment. These models at the time hadn’t been designed for large multinationals and cross-border financing, which now operate across so many various jurisdictions. - as Pete explains.

“If you’re looking at financing a transaction from one country to another, you’ve got different rules applying and they don’t always give you a fair outcome, one end to the other,” Pete says.

Pete shares the complexity attached to these changes against a backdrop of international laws and the interpretation of that legislation, which are becoming increasingly challenging for businesses attempting to keep up. According to Pete, a progressive solution to instigate impactful change is a decent reform in tax that is wholesale.

“It will take a very brave politician to come up with a very long-term political solution but that’s what's needed in my view in order to get genuine real reform that’s actually going to make a difference we need,” says Pete. 

“Without wholesale change in the system, you’re always going to be sticking plasters over things. Trying to resolve issues that we see in the day won’t result in systematic change that stands the test of time”

Technology, tax and the future of teamwork

The pace of technological advancement is both exciting and challenging for many tax teams working in today’s fast-paced, highly collaborative environment.

According to Pete, by allocating a specified member to focus on tax technology, tax teams can strengthen their solutions and better embed tax technology into their workflow systems in order to adapt to change. When done well, Pete emphasizes how ‘owning, leveraging and managing’ technology can add significant value to team output.

“I think it’s all about embracing automation and understanding how to leverage technology to take away all of the mundane and voluminous work,” Pete adds. “This way, the people who are working in tax are actually working on added value rather than high-volumes of repeated transactions that don’t really add value.”

Big data and the future of tax

Data analytics is transforming tax administration especially given a backdrop of heightened transparency on privacy, security and confidentiality. Pete supports the idea of leveraging big data in tax to gain deeper insights, whilst helping to automate tasks and increase overall efficiency. But he explains that it is also our responsibility to respect privacy and to ensure compliance requirements are met at all times.

“There are people out there saying data is the new ‘oil’ - it is - though it’s actually quite hard in today’s parameters to practice while leveraging and monetising data, because you’ve got to be really sensitive to the privacy issues. So when I think about what that means for the tax world, again it’s around leveraging automation in order to work through the vast volumes of data so that we can get quicker, deeper and better insights.”

 Why Pete is taking his entire team to The Tax Summit

 This year, over 90 speakers across tax: corporate, professional practice, legal, technical, SME, domestic and international will attend the Tax Summit.

Pete reaffirms his decision to invite his entire team to the Summit this year is due to the fantastic opportunity to meet with like-minded professionals and leverage an incredible networking and learning experience. 

“This year I’m taking my entire team to The Tax Summit,” he says. “The reason for that is simple. It is the pinnacle event of the year and it is such a fantastic opportunity for them to meet with like-minded professionals, it’s a great networking opportunity as well as a learning opportunity,” says Pete.

Pete acknowledges his own personal interest in the International streams, to learn about the US reform, as well as case law that applies to the international context of tax.

“It’s going to be the best event in the most beautiful city in the world, with such a fantastic schedule - you just have to look at the people that are speaking to see what an amazing event it’s going to be. It’s going to be really, really exciting!”

“I am super excited about The Tax Summit. I think it’s fantastic that The Tax Institute has decided to combine two great events, therefore making this the largest national Tax Summit in Australia,” he says.

Want your tax team to shine in 2020?

Attend The Tax Summit and discover over 60 sessions delivered by local and global tax experts, across SME, Corporate and Hot Topic streams.

The Tax Summit also includes keynote sessions from the biggest and brightest minds in tax, 90+ speakers, interactive workshops and four new streams: Professional Practice, Emerging Leaders, International and Technology.

With over 1,000 attendees against the stunning habourside backdrop of the ICC in Sydney, The Tax Summit is the unmissable opportunity to network, refine your skills and take your career to the next level.

Don’t miss out. Register for The Tax Summit 2020 today.


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