The 12th Group Indirect Tax Exchange, held in Amsterdam on 7-8 March 2019, gave finance professionals an opportunity to see how leading multinationals are implementing new indirect tax initiatives within their operations. This annual event is produced by Thought Leader Global, a dynamic networking organization whose events are designed to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking among business executives in a professional and productive environment.
Attendees heard from representatives of top-tier organizations about their professional experiences with the challenges of indirect tax, networked with vendors in the VAT space, benchmarked different approaches and technologies, and walked away with concrete strategies that they can use to improve indirect tax strategy within their organizations.
One highlight of the event was an eye-opening presentation by Marcel de Wit, the Head of Tax at BCD Travel, a global travel management company with 13K+ employees and US$27.1B in annual sales earned from offering the full spectrum of corporate travel-related services across 109 countries. De Wit discussed specific T&E challenges related to VAT, such as VAT law implications of B2B transactions as part of the special scheme for travel agents, VAT compliance difficulties on invoices, and the need to capture all necessary travel data across the travel journey to meet the requirements of other tax stakeholders.
Robert Milstein head of the Thought Leaders Group valued Marcel’s contribution, “It was a valuable addition to the event to have a VP of global tax from a travel management company speaking to the audience. We were able to appreciate his presentation from a tax and travel management point of view. Every company in the room has to manage its mobility and travel resources. There is a great deal of tax savings to be made if managed correctly”
He discussed how indirect tax issues are especially relevant to BCD Travel, not only for their own internal T&E but to guide the many customers who depend on them. Customers trust BCD Travel because they are different from their competitors in that customers see them not as suppliers but as partners in their travel journey. Customers appreciate that BCD simplifies the end-to-end-travel process and that they invest heavily in innovation and technology to ensure that customers will continue to benefit from BCD platforms.
De Wit highlighted how BCD Travel’s successful partnership with VATBox has allowed the company to automate and optimize its customers’ VAT reclaim processes, improve invoice compliance and make the traveller’s life easier.
“We chose VATBox because we want to optimize our VAT reclaim process, simplify the administrative processes for our finance departments and to increase the compliance of our T&E invoices.”
De Wit explained the AI mechanics of the VATBox platform to the audience, including the data gathering process and Big Data-driven analysis. “I get a monthly report of all foreign and domestic VAT, which I can choose to reclaim myself or ask VATBox to take care of the reclaim on my behalf. I can also drill down into the disqualified invoices to learn whether the issue was missing information or use of credit card slips, or the like.”
So far the relationship with VATBox has been both smooth and positive. “We implemented VATBox one year ago and the onboarding process was very easy. We currently have VATBox operational in 14 European countries and we are now in the process of adding non-European countries to that list.”
With its ability to integrate with EMS solutions to better support open mobility, BCD Travel realized that VATBox was a good fit with their own technology roadmap. “We are soon rolling out a new TripSource technology platform – which will be well aligned with VATBox – with the two companies able to share information, enabling our customers to benefit from robust travel expense reporting.”
De Wit believes that the added value of the two companies combined is the ability to provide customers with insightful analysis of their total travel spend. In the past, travel data, EMS spend and credit card payment data existed in silos. Bringing all data together clarifies total travel spend, so companies can clearly isolate any spend that is booked out of policy. This arms the travel procurement team with the data they need to increase the bottom line in contract negotiations with suppliers.
The Head of Tax leaves us with three tips to address VAT reclaim challenges:
- Ensure that indirect tax is well integrated into your travel policy.
- Educate employees about the importance of VAT compliant invoices.
- Make use of a VAT reclaim company to automate the entire T&E reclaim process.
Founded in 2012, VATBox has been revolutionizing the automated VAT recovery marketplace with its cloud-based solution that can be deployed in 30 minutes without any additional budget or IT resources. VATBox’s out-of-the-box solution handles reports, data collection, aggregation, qualification, submissions and the complexities that accompany these processes using a fully automated approach. VATBox implements the highest level of data security and compliance with all international rules and regulations of the various jurisdictions and offers companies 360⁰ visibility into their VAT spend and recovery. As a privately-held company, VATBox’s technological breakthrough has raised USD $50M in private equity funding and attracted a large portfolio of Fortune 500 clients.
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