The skills for a successful Tax Manager

The skills for a successful Tax Manager


Tax manager jobs are popular because they involve a challenging work environment, dynamic industry and significant exposure to senior stakeholders. An in-house tax manager is primarily responsible for devising, implementing and overseeing the tax plan for a business. But what else does a tax manager do and what skills do you need to become a successful one?

Tax managers fill an important role in every organization. While the tax manager’s responsibilities will vary depending on organizational size and business location, a tax manager’s range of duties often include the conscientious preparation and management of tax documentation, strict adherence to tax laws, and implementation of practical solutions to any tax-related issues that arise.

Obviously, doing your work well will stand you in good stead with your supervisors. But how can you rise beyond simply fulfilling your day-to-day responsibilities, and truly become a trusted advisor to senior decision-makers?

Here are a few guidelines:

Ensure credibility: Your qualifications should be impeccable. Make sure you stay current with any education or certification requirements. In addition, strong technical knowledge in all international, federal, state and local tax laws is important. Refresh your knowledge of relevant tax laws and regulations on at least a weekly basis. Last year there were over 50,000 changes in regulatory and compliance laws – ignorance is simply not an option for effective tax managers. In addition, it is a good idea to make sure your tax accounting skills are up to date.

Demonstrate superior workplace skills: A primary responsibility of a successful tax manager is the need to analyze data and develop solutions to complex problems – tax managers should possess advanced analytical and strategic thinking skills. Often out-of-the-box solutions will be called for, and it is the role of the tax manager to brainstorm and determine the best option for the organization. In addition, superior organizational skills will help you manage multiple duties and clients, as well as to multi-task and prioritize in order to meet deadlines.

Deliver tax-based value: Try to reach beyond your actual role to over-deliver. Mention any compliance issues that you discover, propose technologies and strategies to mitigate tax risks, and contribute to the year-end reporting process. Stay abreast of the changing tax laws developments by reading articles related to the tax trade, consulting with professional advisors and speaking to external contacts in similar roles. Be proactive about communicating pertinent news to your department head. If relevant, escalate any issues to your CFO or Board.

Be a forward-thinker: An excellent understanding of business needs and an outcome-focused approach is an essential part of the tax manager’s role. Communicate with other departments regularly to ensure you fully understand the objectives of the company at all times. Appreciate that your stakeholder’s needs may vary by individual or by role, and be sensitive to that dynamic in order to communicate most effectively.

Understand future trends: New technologies and advanced analytics have been modernizing the finance function, and are addressing the challenges that have faced financial institutions for years. Read up about how financial technology, or FinTech, enables Finance to improve efficiencies or reduce costs of existing processes. Realize that with data at the core of all financial transactions, technological innovations have introduced improvements that decrease the likelihood of human error, minimize audit risks, reduce economic crime or fraud, enhance management visibility, improve tax compliance, and maximize reclaimable VAT.  Understand that the future is in current buzzwords, such as Business Intelligence (BI), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and process automation. Make sure you understand these concepts and how they apply to your business.

Embrace innovation: Technologies are transforming the tax function by delivering improved transparency, controls and efficiencies, while mitigating risks, reducing costs and delivering more accurate results. A truly effective tax manager is constantly on the alert for relevant technologies, such as new VAT tools, as well as for exciting innovations that the organization can embrace in order to automate existing processes and implement new tools, such as more efficient record-keeping and enhanced compliance.

Brush up on your interpersonal skills: After you’ve identified and filled any gaps in your hard tax-based skills, focus on your people skills. Relationships are the key to success in any role. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll receive lots of calls and emails from colleagues asking for your guidance. You will need to be comfortable providing advice on complex issues to people who do not have the same level of technical tax knowledge as you have. Be confident in your capabilities to build earn their respect.

Tune in to your stakeholders: Excellent stakeholder management skills are vital – make sure you communicate regularly, clearly and affably with senior management, especially those who are not from a tax background. Ideally, you achieve a level of friendliness with your stakeholders where you are on a first-name basis and can chat comfortably when waiting for the elevator.

Achieving success in your role as a tax manager should be a priority. Building your credibility, over-delivering on tax-based value, serving as a trusted advisor, embracing technology and innovation, enhancing your technical and interpersonal skills, and building relationships with stakeholders will go a long way in smoothing the path to your next tax-based promotion.

If you’d like proactive hands-on help with better positioning your company’s tax policies (while making a positive impression on senior management), VATBox can help. VATBox has successfully streamlined the global VAT recovery process, providing businesses with unrivaled visibility, compliance and data integrity. Leveraging the cloud and utilizing full automation, VATBox exhibits complete control of a company’s VAT spend, while making the recovery process more productive and yielding higher returns.

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