Richard Cornelisse

Posts Tagged ‘change’

‘Why’, ‘What’, and ‘How’ of Managing an Effective Indirect Tax function

In Audit Defense, Benchmark, Business Strategy, EU development, General, Indirect Tax Automation, Indirect Tax Strategic Plan, Processes and Controls, Technology, Training, VAT planning on 04/03/2014 at 9:07 am

Table of Content

Yes, I address more than one person with this newsletter, but here’s the absolute magic trick (the secret behind the curtain):

  • People who don’t belong here unsubscribe and find where they belong.
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  • People who do belong here learn really quickly that if they do spend money with me, I work very hard to deliver value. [Chris Brogan]

Philosophy behind the GITM initiative – Richard H. Cornelisse

The objective of the GITM initiative is to set out and discuss the ‘Why’, ‘What’, and ‘How’ of managing an effective indirect tax function.

Impact of the increase of VAT rates globally: the greater the amount of tax in the system, the greater the tax risk. VAT errors could – as it is a transactional tax – negatively impact profit margin and shareholder’s value.

Besides the ‘Why’ it is important to know what needs to be managed within an organization. To support change of roles and responsibilities – e.g. governance and mandate – involvement of senior management is essential.

Change management is an important topic in various sections. How to realize sponsorship and make a difference? An overview of approaches, methodologies and best practice tools are included.

Richard H. Cornelisse


A roadmap to indirect tax function effectiveness

Planning of non-routine transactions

Building Blocks of an Indirect Tax Strategic Plan

Indirect Tax Risk Management

Building Blocks of a VAT Control Framework

Data and Technology



Indirect Tax Technical


January 2014 International Indirect Tax Updates

In EU development, General, Indirect Tax Automation, Tax News on 08/01/2014 at 1:34 am

January 2014 International Indirect Tax Updates

By Patrycja Wolniczek Mucha On January 2, 2014

Along with released budget measures for year 2014 many countries have passed legislation or announced a number of changes that have an impact on the VAT rates. These changes are a response to economic and budgetary developments in the particular country. We have summarized the upcoming VAT rate changes with the following countries.

The changes will become effective 1 January 2014 unless otherwise noted.


In accordance with the Law Amending the Law on Value Added Tax of 4 December 2013, the reduced VAT rate of 10% will increase to 13%.  The government expects that these measures along with excise and income tax changes will reduce the budget deficit by HRK 2 billion or around 0.6% of Gross Domestic Product and by HRK 4 billion or 1.2% of GDP in 2015 and a further 1.7% of GDP in 2016. On 1 July 2013 Croatia became a Member of the European Union.


In year 2012 the Cypriot government has announced a VAT increase in two stages. In accordance with the plan, on 14th January 2013 the standard rate went up by 1% reaching 18%. A further 1% increase will come into effect on 13th January 2014. The new standard rate will be 19% and the reduced rate will increase to 9%. Cyprus’s VAT change is an economic response to the Greek financial crisis. In order to secure beneficial loan terms with Russia, the government had to agree to the VAT changes as part of the bail out by the ‘Troika’ of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Dominican Republic

Under the Law No. 253-12 effective 1 January 2014 the reduced VAT rate of 8% will go up to 11%. The VAT change is part of the 2012 tax reform which included the initial reduced rate increase to 8% in 2013 and the standard rate hike to 18%. According to the law schedule the reduced rate will further increase to 13% in 2015 and to 16% in 2016. The standard rate is planned, however, to go down to 16% in 2015. Subject to the reduced rate increase are most of the basic food commodities.


The standard VAT rate will increase to 20% on 1 January 2014. In addition, many basic commodities will become more expensive as the reduced VAT rate will go up from current 7% to 10%. In Corsica the current 8% reduced rate will also go up to 10%. The increase reflects changes included in the Amending Finance Law no. 2012-1510 of 29 December 2012.  Article 68 of the above mentioned law, initially provided for a decrease in the lower reduced VAT rate from 5.5% to 5% as of 1 January 2014. The new Budget Finance Law 2014 draft keeps, however, the 5.5% rate in place for 2014.  With the VAT increase France will be joining most other EU member states which have been shifting the tax burden from business onto consumers in a bid to attract and retain multinational businesses.


Following the 2014 Budget, the parliament passed a new VAT Act, which increased the standard VAT rate from 12.5% to 15%. The government justifies the increase with the need of infrastructure investments in accordance with the development agenda.  Currently, Ghana is heavily reliant on deposits of gold. Expanding the revenue basis with higher VAT would help raise €300 million.


As published in the Official Gazette of Honduras and in accordance with Decreto No. 278-2013, the standard VAT Rate went up from 12% to 15% and the increased VAT rate went up from 15% to 18% effective 1 January 2014. The increase was included in the package of fiscal measures aiming at preventing the country from a major economic crisis. The economists assess the impact of changes as intense enough to generate, according to estimates of the Ministry of Finance, about three billion Lempiras in inflation by rising prices of basic commodities. The rate change will also contribute to increase the poverty rate among Hondurans.



In accordance with the new Consumption Tax Act, the consumption tax will increase from 5% to 8% with effect from April 2014. This change is the first of a two-step process which is expected to reach 10% by 2015. The reason for the hike relates to the government’s long-term plan to reduce its primary budget deficit by 2015 and stabilizing its debt burden by 2020. Before a final decision on the 2015 increase, the government will have to further examine economic factors and other conditions.


With the economic package, the government repealed the current 11% rate of VAT, as applicable for the border region (the border between Mexico and the United States), and will impose the general VAT rate of 16% as of 1 January 2014. The change will have a negative impact on local business and employment in the border zone.

Portugal Autonomous Regions – Azores

As part of the 2014 budget and in accordance with the budget approving Decree n. º 191/XII, the standard and both reduced VAT rates will go up. As of 1 January 2014 the standard VAT rate will increase from 16% to 18%, the intermediate rate from 9% to 10% and the reduced rate from 4% to 5%.


The reduced VAT rate of 8% will become 10%. Serbia’s Finance Minister Lazar Krstic explained the measure as a necessary step to avoid a financial meltdown. The increase will help close the budgetary gaps but will also hit the poorest parts of society hardest.

As a result of economic factors the following initially scheduled VAT rate changes will not be implemented in the upcoming months:


According to the Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Prokopovich last statement, the current VAT rates will remain unchanged for the year 2014. Earlier this year, the Government announced a plan to increase the standard VAT rate to 22% in 2014.


The current VAT rates will remain unchanged as a result of the last VAT Act amendment.   The VAT rates were temporarily increased on 1 January 2011 and were scheduled to take effect until 31 December 2013. Effective 1 January 2014 the VAT rates were supposed to return to their previous lower level. Based on the information provided by the Government Information Centre (CIR), the extension of the current higher rates was caused by the need to reduce imbalances in public finances, as well as by a weak demand in major export markets. Both factors are limiting the economic growth.


On 19 December 2013, the parliament adopted amendments to the Tax Code. The initially planned decrease of the VAT standard rate to 17% has been postponed until 2015. In 2014, the VAT standard rate will remain at 20%.  On 31 December 2013 the President Viktor Yanukovych signed the amendments into law.

via January 2014 International Indirect Tax Updates – Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting.

The impact of VAT rate change on company’s compliance costs

In Audit Defense, Benchmark, Business Strategy, EU development, Indirect Tax Automation, Processes and Controls, Technology, Training on 14/10/2013 at 5:58 pm

By Richard Cornelisse, Director Strategy & Sales of Taxmarc™

ORC International was commissioned by HMRC in 2010 to undertake research with businesses and trade associations to explore the compliance burden and commercial impact of the VAT rate change in 2008 in the United Kingdom.

In their report “HMRC Compliance Costs and Commercial Impact of December 2008 VAT Rate Change” ORC analysed that large businesses – businesses with more than 250 employees – spent on system change re this rate change between 235 – 4,040 hours.

If the hourly rate would be determined at EUR 75 per hour the overall system change costs would be between EUR 17,625 – EUR 303,000. Based on the definition used for large businesses it is more than likely that multinationals with multiple or complex systems will be in the higher range.

Due to the increased frequency of VAT rate changes and all the activities mentioned in SAP checklist for VAT rate changes, the costs of a multinational will likely be around EUR 50,000 and EUR 250,000 annually.

Writing the Business Case for Taxmarc™ Tax Code Solution

Via Taxmarc™ Tax Code Solution’s time-stamp design no new VAT codes are required in case of VAT rate changes. Only the effective VAT rate dates need to be changed in SAP. There will be a major reduction in maintenance effort and the risk of a shortage of tax codes is eliminated.

As the name and description of the tax code remains the same the Accounts Payable and VAT compliance processes can remain the same as well. All reports and templates that are using the tax codes (i.e. the VAT returns templates) do not have to be changed.

Changing VAT rates will be almost as easy as changing a sales price in SAP.

Final Tax Code Solution One Page Flyer

Download digital flyer

An example of a business case:

“Our company faces a shortage of SAP tax codes soon what impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of our business processes negatively.

Overall, developing workarounds cost either a lot of IT and stakeholder’s time (internal or external) and extra management time is needed to avoid human errors due to manual intervention.

  • This project results in a significant reduction in labour and IT time needed. Reduce time spent only on ‘VAT rate change’ decreases annually from 4,000 hours to 20 hours average by July 2014.
  • This project will save at least EUR 250,000 per year and supports our corporate goal of cost reductions. Soft and potential savings are more efficient and effective deployment of employees, a reduction of head count in finance department, less time is needed for update of any training manuals, lowers external advisory fees.
  • The Taxmarc™ Tax Code solution has a break-even point within twelve months.”

Tax Code Solution front

For drafting and supporting a business case the following information could be used.

EU VAT Rate Changes

In many countries around the world the VAT revenues make up an important part of the total revenues of the government. Combined with the financial crisis and the need to reduce the budget deficits, VAT rates are changed frequently. The average EU standard VAT rate increased from around 19.5% to more than 21%. Raising VAT rates is not limited to Europe.

Europe has seen changes in 11 countries in the period 2007 – October 1, 2013 and the following increases are expected:

  • Cyprus will raise VAT 2% to 19% by 2014
  • France Will raise its standard VAT rate from 19.6% to 20% in 2014
  • Luxembourg will raise VAT from 15% in Jan 2015

The change of a VAT rate has a huge impact on the ERP system. Due to design limitations in SAP for every new VAT rate, new tax codes must be set up in standard SAP and a significant amount of additional changes are required to get the new tax codes up and running for all SAP transactions. This usually entails significant projects that include the adjustment of many tables in SAP.

A non-exhaustive overview of activities can be found in our checklist for VAT rate changes in SAP

What have your peers experienced?

Quotes from HMRC Compliance Costs and Commercial Impact of December 2008 VAT Rate Change:

“[the system changes] was a big one, yes, for our retail arm of the business where we do more standard-rate, if we had to have a new rate input into the system or a new VAT code … I know there was a working party set up for it and the changes had to be done, but I wouldn’t know how much time was spent on it, but it was quite big, it was understanding how to change it in the system and then obviously conveying that across to everybody so that they started using the correct code for the correct transaction.”

“Sitting down with a VAT manager and listing every system and process that we thought was impacted, we then got together with our IT people and we had to set up a SharePoint site in order to be able to monitor all the different changes, because there were a lot …”

“A VAT rate change affects a huge number of people in a organisation – you have the main Tax Teams, who are subject matter experts, you have to understand the rules and understand the changes and direct what change is going to be made; you have the Documentation Teams that are required to make sure that invoices go out with the right VAT rates on; you have the system changes that need to be made, and many of those systems are quite diverse; many members will have several systems for example, not just one, that they are managing, so you have to make changes across multiple systems.”

SAP checklist for VAT rate change

Numerous multinational companies use very many different tax codes and risk facing a “shortage” of necessary tax codes. Companies face bottlenecks with SAP‘s 2 character tax codes and the many necessary modifications in SAP in the event of VAT rate changes.

It seems therefore a straightforward matter, however in practice a considerable amount of activities are required to get this properly implemented in SAP.

The reason is that VAT codes in SAP are not set-up with validity dates and therefore for every VAT rate change a new VAT code has to be created. Due to the complexity in SAP, the creation of a new code is just the starting point to get SAP up and running.

Below you find a non-exhaustive list of required activities in case of VAT rate changes. It depends on the current configuration of VAT functionality whether all activities listed below are required. The opposite is also possible that more activities are necessary.

Taxmarc_ Tax Code Solution pc9

VAT Control Framework

In Indirect Tax Strategic Plan, Processes and Controls, Technology on 09/08/2013 at 1:53 pm

Objective of Tax Control Framework

Ferry_LinkedIn KEY-GROUPRobbert Hoogeveen Richard CornelisseA Tax Control Framework (TCF) is an internal control instrument specifically aimed at the tax function within a company. A  TCF is not limited to the Tax Department, but an integral component of a company’s Business- or Internal Control Framework (hereinafter also ICF).

The ultimate objective of a TCF is to be in compliance with tax laws and reporting requirements and manage the risks that matter (risks that exceed the companies’ risk appetite).

Among other things, this requires a clear understanding of the companies’ material risk areas and includes policy and roles and responsibilities of the tax department and the shadow tax function (anyone who is not formally in the tax function, but has a role managing tax; e.g finance function re indirect tax compliance), internal procedures/processes and control measures (hard and soft controls).

This framework ensures that an organization has adequate control over its tax processes. A TCF can prevent tax errors, identify opportunities in a timely manner and perform correct filings at the right moment.

A company’s VAT control framework system is adequate if it provides insight into where material VAT risks may arise in the company (awareness), while the degree of risk tolerance is established internally and where appropriate control measures are taken with respect to these risks.

Control activity examples in four risk areas:

Focus areas

Risk description

Strategic VAT strategy cannot be tested as to whether this is in line with the entire tax and corporate strategy.
Operational The indirect tax function is not consulted when changes occur.
Financial VAT payments are not made on time.
Compliance The VAT filing is not done on time.

Change Management

Below is an example that relates to changes in the business (strategic) and shows the controls that can be implemented to manage the risks that come up with business changes.

The control activity, the test of control and the frequency are important for an effective and efficient implementation and shows how an organization is in control.

Tabel changes in business - page 1

Tabel changes in business - page 2

The KEY Group‘s normative indirect tax control framework

The KEY Group has extensive expertise in the area of Business Controls / Internal Controls and has developed a normative framework for indirect taxes, the so-called VAT Control Framework.

The actual situation (IST position) within the organization is then measured against this yardstick, generally resulting in a summary of the differences.  Analysis of these gaps and the associated risks may lead to acceptance or to proposals for improvement. It is an efficient and effective approach that challenges the relevant process owners.

The design of the normative framework was realized by the practical experience of the former Indirect Tax Technology Leader of Shell International, a former Ernst & Young partner and a former Executive Director of Deloitte who specialize in the area of Indirect Tax Performance respectively Business/Internal Control and who have supported many multinationals with structure, design and implementation.

The KEY Group uses the experience gained to continuously test and improve the normative framework based on examples and practical solutions.

The collaboration of experts Robbert Hoogeveen, Richard Cornelisse and Ferry Geertman has resulted in an integrated client solution from the various areas of expertise.

Related topics

Unchanged tax code structure made possible

In Audit Defense, Benchmark, Business Strategy, EU development, Indirect Tax Strategic Plan, Processes and Controls, Technology on 09/02/2013 at 4:29 pm

By Marc van Rijbroek, CEO of Taxmarc™


In SAP is it necessary to create new tax codes in the event of VAT rate changes. Due to the many VAT rate changes in different European countries, many new tax codes had to be created.

This usually concerns extensive projects that include the adjustment of many tables in SAP. As a tax code in SAP consists of 2 characters, the number of possible tax codes is limited.

Numerous multinational companies use very many different tax codes and risk facing a “shortage” of necessary tax codes. They have asked SAP for a solution over the last couple of years, but to date, SAP hasn’t complied with the request, which leaves companies with the 2 character tax codes and the many necessary modifications in SAP in the event of VAT rate changes.

Beside the new tax codes, all VAT condition tables must also be evaluated and updated in standard SAP. In addition, interfaces, VAT returns, templates of reports and work instructions for AP must, inter alia, be adjusted. Taxmarc™ offers the solution for this problem without changing the standard functionality of SAP. In the event of VAT rate changes, the actual VAT percentage only needs to be added and new tax codes are no longer necessary.

The name and description of the tax code in de SAP pricing procedure remain the same; only the VAT rate changes in time. With this, the solution enables a substantial reduction of the working hours that are spent on maintenance. Moreover, the centralization of local compliance functions is possible in an efficient and effective way (Shared Services Centers).

Case study – logic of tax code structure

De description of tax codes does not change in the event of rate changes.

Example of a rate change of the standard VAT rate:

Country I increase (1x) Netherlands
Country II increase (2x) Spain
Country III no increase Belgium 

Overview of tax codes in the event of rate changes: real changes

All started with A1 for standard rate

 B1  BE STANDARD RATE 0.21 1/01/96 
 EN  BE STANDARD RATE 0.21 1/09/12
 NG  NL STANDARD RATE 0.21 1/10/12
 EF  ES STANDARD RATE 0.18 1/07/10
 E1  ES STANDARD RATE 0.16 1/01/95
 N1  NL STANDARD RATE 0.19 1/01/01

If BE company is also registered in The Netherlands (and has a fixed establishment), then company BE01 has besides B1 BE standard 21 percent also for instance a code N1 for The Netherlands standard 19 percent, which has been changed to NE NL standard 21 percent in October 2012.

As a consequence, countries will have different SAP names for standard VAT rates.

This is to the detriment of the transparency and logic, which makes that more control is required to monitor risks and changes. Since October 2012 the following tax codes are applicable for the standard VAT rate:

 Belgium   B1  (original) 
 Netherlands   NG  
 Spain   EN

With Taxmarc™ the original name of the VAT rate (tax code) is maintained after rate changes.

Moreover, a tax code is unique within the client:

Belgium     B1 
Netherlands    N1 
Spain    E1 


In Tax News on 19/11/2012 at 3:53 pm

The quarterly ONESOURCE Indirect Tax rate report summarizes changes in sales, use and value added taxes (VAT) — providing a high-level look at information that is incorporated monthly in detail in Thomson Reuters’ ONESOURCE Indirect Tax global software suite.

Thomson Reuters’ in-house tax experts monitor changes in tax laws for over 175 countries. Highlights from the global Q3 2012 report released today include:

  • Sixty-nine state, county, city and transit sales tax increases were implemented in the U.S., compared with 97 in Q3 2011.
  • There were 20 VAT increases globally, up from 14 in Q3 2011.
  • In the U.S., the average state sales tax remained the same at 5.48 percent in Q3 2012.
  • Spain increased its standard and reduced VAT rates from 18 percent and 8 percent to 21 percent and 10 percent.
  • In China, Beijing joined the VAT Pilot program in September.
  • Two Indian states increased their standard rates. In Kamataka, rates rose from 14 percent and 5 percent to 14.5 percent and 5.5 percent. In Punjab, they rose from 12.5 percent and 5 percent to 13.5 percent and 5.5 percent.

To download full report

Read more: Thomson Reuters | Global Indirect Tax Changes Up 62 Percent in Q3.

Business services: better results and higher quality using a different way of working

In Tax News on 03/10/2012 at 3:56 pm

A different way of working

In times of economic growth, there is a tendency to achieve increases in scale through acquisitions. In business services, the emergence of the Big4 is an example of this.

The economic recession causes companies to adjust to new market circumstances: demand decreases, fees come under pressure and employee productivity slides, causing the focus to shift to general cost savings and making downsizing necessary.

One complicating factor is that the traditional way of working and the way in which business services are offered is no longer relevant. In times of recession, inefficiency becomes all the more visible when profits fall and there is no room for innovation.

In addition, poor results have an adverse effect on the cooperation among disciplines: employees focus on self-preservation and not on existing or new forms of cooperation.

The tide can be shifted by reinventing oneself and by realizing behavioral changes among employees. The challenge is to change people who have been successful with their traditional way of working for years.

These are difficult and time-consuming processes that are possible only with close management and the involvement of the leaders.

It is no chimera to consider a future involving significant offshoots and where the term Big4 ceases to exist.

The question has been asked more than once and is more relevant today than ever. Does the – relatively less profitable – auditing of financial statements and consultancy still fit under the umbrella of joint profit distribution?

Not only does regulation lead to change, so do the personal motives of the stakeholders. In times of continued economic recession, are people still willing to support each other financially when certain company components consistently underperform?

Time will tell.

The founders of the KEY Group didn’t want to wait for this. Adjustment to changed circumstances and innovation is in our DNA.

It is an essential component of the corporate image that we have in mind. Change is not a threat but a challenge and it can’t happen quickly enough.

Now is the moment to link up with new trends and markets. We comprise a select group of people who share the same vision and we believe that the future lies in a “cloud” of collaborating experts in the areas of business control, information technology and indirect tax.


Unlock the money

European Commission – Press Release About Future Of VAT

In General, Indirect Tax Strategic Plan, Macroeconomic effects of VAT, Tax News on 17/05/2012 at 9:36 am

Council of the European Union – Press Release 15 May 2012

The future of VAT – Conclusions

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

  • it supports an EU VAT system that would be simpler, more efficient, neutral, robust, and fraud-proof.
  • it acknowledged the need to simplify the current VAT system, in order to reduce VAT compliance costs and administrative burdens for businesses—in particular, for businesses working in more than one EU Member State—and would support a goal of timely implementation of a mini “one-stop-shop” by 2015.

“A. Council Conclusions on the future of VAT in general

The Council of the European Union 

  • RECALLS the Commission’s Green Paper on “The future of VAT – Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system” and ACKNOWLEDGES the wide public consultation of all interested parties conducted during the first half of 2011.
  • WELCOMES the subsequent Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on “The future of VAT – Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system tailored to the single market”.
  • SUPPORTS the objective of an EU VAT system which should be simpler, more efficient and neutral, robust and fraud-proof.
  • In this context, EMPHASISES that the current financial and economic situation is difficult and complex and demands a strong fiscal consolidation of national budgets, as reflected in the European Council Conclusions of 1/2 March 2012 (cf. doc. EUCO 4/3/12) and RECALLS that the European Council invited “Member States, where appropriate, to review their tax systems with the aim of making them more effective and efficient, removing unjustified exemptions, broadening the tax base, shifting taxes away from labour, improving the efficiency of tax collection and tackling tax evasion”. This should be taken into account at EU level in the implementation of the objectives of the Communication. Value Added Tax constitutes a major source of revenue for the national budgets and reform of the current EU VAT system should, in particular, aim at making it more effective and efficient, removing unjustified exemptions and broadening the tax base, in order to contribute to fiscal consolidation and growth.
  • POINTS TO the following principles and legal considerations, which should be taken into account in furtherance of any future action: cost-efficiency, proportionality, unanimity, data protection legislation, compliance with the subsidiarity principle and full respect for the respective competences of the Union and the Member States.
  • NVITES the relevant Council bodies and the Commission to take into account these conclusions, in their ongoing work and in the implementation of the objectives of the Communication.
  • INVITES the Presidency and the Commission to update the Council on the progress of work as necessary.

B. Council Conclusions on the priorities for further work

1) A simpler VAT system

The Council of the European Union

  • ACKNOWLEDGES the need to simplify the current VAT system in order to reduce VAT compliance costs and administrative burdens for businesses small and large alike, and in particular for businesses working in more than one Member State and SUPPORTS work to ensure the timely implementation of the mini One-Stop-Shop in 2015 as a key priority action. TAKES NOTE of the Commission’s view that, in a VAT system based on taxation at destination, a One-Stop-Shop is a crucial instrument to facilitate access to the single market.
  • EMPHASISES the importance of ensuring that initiatives designed to arrive at a simpler VAT system for businesses do not impose additional burdens on national authorities; the strategic objective of simplicity should be seen as a two-way concept that applies to businesses and national authorities alike.
  • CALLS ON the Commission to further clarify the legal status of the information, as well as content, form, roles and responsibilities in connection with the proposed EU VAT web portal and INVITES Member States to collaborate on the design of such a portal, which should not impose disproportionate administrative burdens on national authorities nor duplicate work.
  • INVITES the Commission, in close cooperation with Member States and in consultation with stakeholders, to continue its work on the setting up of an EU VAT forum for Member States and stakeholders, facilitated by the Commission.
  • TAKES NOTE of the intention of the Commission to present a proposal for creating a standardised VAT declaration, and in this context CALLS ON the Commission to ensure a broad based dialogue and a thorough cost-benefit analysis beforehand.
2) A more efficient VAT system

The Council of the European Union

  • CONSIDERS revenue generating capacity and the ability to sustain economic growth to be inherent features of a more efficient VAT system.
  • CONCURS with the need to examine in further detail the present EU rules on the application of VAT to the public sector, in so far as there is competition between the public and private sectors.
  • ACKNOWLEDGES the desire to clarify the rules concerning non-profit-making organizations.
  • RECALLS the ECOFIN Council Conclusions of 10 March 2009, which settled the issue of: “the possibility, for the Member States that so wish, of applying reduced VAT rates in certain sectors” and “at the same time acknowledged that reduced VAT rates may, depending on the circumstances, have positive and negative economic effects, so that more efficient alternative solutions should always be considered before a Member State decides to use the option to apply reduced VAT rates”.
  • TAKES NOTE that the Commission favours a restricted use of reduced rates in order to increase the efficiency of the VAT system, and that it intends to launch in 2012 an assessment of the current VAT rates structure in the light of the various guiding principles set out in its Communication. COMMITS ITSELF to examine the findings of that assessment.
3) A more robust and fraud-proof VAT system

The Council of the European Union

  • Fully ACKNOWLEDGES that continued work is needed to improve the robustness and resilience of the EU VAT system, including taking into account new technological developments.
  • TAKES NOTE of the intention of the Commission to analyse the feasibility of new tax collection methods.
  • TAKES NOTE of the intention of the Commission to come forward with a concrete proposal for a Quick Reaction Mechanism which, with a view to combating sudden fraud, will enable the adoption at national level of temporary measures derogating from the Directive, pending the outcome of the procedures for the adoption of appropriate measures at Union level.
4) A VAT system tailored to the single market

The Council of the European Union

  • CONCURS with the Commission that the principle of “taxation in the Member State of origin of the supply of goods or services”, as envisaged in article 402 of Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax, remains unlikely to be politically achievable.
  • INVITES the Commission to proceed with in-depth technical work and a broadly based dialogue with Member States to examine in detail the different possible ways to implement the destination principle.”

Read more

Indirect Tax Function Effectiveness and the chapters:

VAT Blogs

Richard Cornelisse is CEO of the KEY Group and worked previously as Big4 Partner in the Tax Performance Advisory and Indirect Tax Practice and blogs on Tax Function Effectiveness and Tax Control Framework developments.

Tax Management Consultancy welcomes your opinion on any of the issues raised, so feel free to join in the discussion on LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook.

Global Indirect Tax Management: Conditions For Success

In Benchmark, Business Strategy, General, Indirect Tax Strategic Plan, Macroeconomic effects of VAT, US VAT introduction, VAT planning on 01/04/2012 at 1:49 pm
By Richard Cornelisse

This blog dots all the postings to the building blocks of the Indirect Tax Strategic Plan (by Richard Cornelisse) and shows what a best practice should look like. It not only about the plan to be produced, but also gives my view about implementation. That could mean that some bottlenecks have to be conquered first.

I start with the “Company’s Culture and Code of Conduct” as it is a top down approach.

This blog includes the highlights of the various postings tagged to these building blocks. More detail about how I see things can be read via clicking on the links.

Company’s Culture And Code of Conduct

From ‘Business Integrity And ‘Being Inspired’ (by Richard Cornelisse): If integrity is an important part of your organizations values, you should always act accordingly and proactively manage as leadership. It is always about doing the right thing and never bargain these values.

Leadership, Integrity, Trust…and Ski-Racing: “Without integrity, an organization is eventually doomed to failure–karma”

Greg Smith: “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs: “The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for…. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money…I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.”

Maureen Broderick: “In a profession that sells a promise of performance versus a tangible product or service, a firm’s vision, values, and culture lie at the heart of that promise. Vision is where the firm is headed. Values are the behaviors the firm holds important, and culture is the feel, the energy, the society within the organization. Collectively, they form the core around which the business is built.”

From ‘The Conflict Between ‘Actual To Budget’ Controls And ‘Budget-based Compensation Targets’’ (by Richard Cornelisse):

“A Ferrari is a beautiful, very fast and a state of the art car, but we should not put Stevie Wonder in the driver seat. He is an excellent song writer and performer but he never ever will be the next Michael Schumacher. It will be risky business if he controls the throttle”

The above might be considered a ridiculous example, but strangely enough happens often in our daily practice. The downturn might even make it worse. Why? It is because of budget-based incentive targets.

Everybody feels now the pressure and the focus is on making personal budget first. We might know the best driver, understand that he is the best option, but that does not mean we want Michael actually in the driver seat. It does not matter if Michael works for the same company or that it is in the best interest of the client. Stevie, wants to make his own comfort zone first. It is in his personal interest.

  • Should we be surprised?
  • Is this not part of our human nature?
  • Is that not the reason we have our company culture?

Exactly, the reason why proactive management of common values is needed.

Business Strategy

The Tax Function has to contribute value to the company’s business strategy. What is the impact on business strategy of social media and technology developments and the market entry of non traditional competitors.   Are new business priorities needed?

From “About Market Leadership And Non Traditional Competitors” (by Richard Cornelisse): The current impact of Google and Wikipedia is already huge as much content has become less valuable or even worthless from a pricing perspective. Will search engine functionality develop further? Will more content be available and contributed on the internet?

Adrienne Graham: “With the Internet being so widely available loaded with free information, people automatically assume that you too have to provide information for free. My response to that is go ahead and read the free stuff. But when you still find yourself lacking answers, then apparently the FREE stuff doesn’t work. You can’t come to a professional and ask them to work for free. In essence, that is what you’re doing when you ask to pick someone’s brain. How would you feel if your boss came to you and said, Hey since we can get this done from information from the Internet, I won’t be paying you today. Go ahead, let it sink in. Got that visual yet? Good. That’s exactly how I feel whenever someone wants to take me to lunch or call me to pick my brain”


From A Spotlight on “Management”: About Being Ambitious And Realizing Goals (by Richard Cornelisse): Negative experiences but also positive experiences (e.g. (the first and final) assessments, the amount of savings) would be something to register ongoing and communicate effectively within the organization. These are the benchmark findings of your own company and extremely useful for your strategy moving forward.

You need to know where you want to go and set up a roadmap how to get there. Benchmark against trends in the market might be supportive in your aim. It provides an overview of the experiences of others and is useful for setting own priorities going forward. It is always interesting to get insight of what others have experienced for own validation purposes.

Watch ‘Benchmark Findings’ Via YouTube

Overview Of The ‘Key Risk Areas Of VAT paid And VAT charged’ And ‘System Set Up’

From ‘The Value of Benchmarking: Get Some Objective Evidence” (by Richard Cornelisse): Watch an overview of the ‘Key Risk Areas of VAT paid and VAT charged’ and ‘System Set Up and Process Errors’.

Watch ‘Key Risks’, ‘System Set Up And Process Errors’ Via YouTube

 This material might be useful for (internal) communication, risk analysis or self assessments:

Setting the objectives

From Setting The objectives Of The Indirect Function (by Richard Cornelisse):

  • Tax Planning: identify, recommend and successfully implement indirect tax projects that assist in achieving the objectives of the indirect tax department part of the business objectives.
  • Tax Accounting: proactively anticipate on changes in the business and outside the business and successfully communicate these changes to the concerning departments. Furthermore look after a correct implementation of these changes.
  • Tax Compliance: look after a correct, complete and timely Indirect Tax reporting of all entities. This includes that additional reporting relating to these Indirect Tax returns is taken into account.
  • Tax Governance: all corporate departments are well informed and/or have the availability of a VAT work instruction so it is clear when to consult the indirect tax department.
  • Support Other Departments: activities of departments that are being affected by VAT risks have been successfully identified and these departments have been well instructed to reduce these risks.
  • Audit Defense: roles and responsibilities have been determined who deals with the tax authorities during an audit (announcement) and tax authorities questions and procedures “how to act” (e.g. never provide documents without first making copies) have been documented and rolled out.

From A Spotlight On “Management”:Aabout Being Ambitious And Realizing Goals (by Richard Cornelisse): At the moment that these objectives are validated,  specific goals have to be set within these boundaries. The goals have to be specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic and timely (SMART goals).

Getting Support And The Tools To Make It happen

From “How to Manage The Perception Of C-level And Realize Tax Objectives” (by Richard Cornelisse): In order to allocate resources to risk and reward areas that matter, the maximum level of risk appetite of the company in the worst case scenarios need to be determined. This facilitates such prioritization as defined acceptable levels of risk means that resources do not spend time on further reducing risks that are already at an acceptable level.

If you know the risk appetite, you have to identify the lowest performing indirect tax processes that have the most direct impact on the company’s business objectives (e.g. benchmark and measure). Short problem statements for the gaps found should be written. It should include an estimate of savings or the amount of hours currently lost due to rework. These statements can subsequently be prioritized and validated with top management. Various solutions are presented with cost benefit analysis, so a constructive discussion with top management can be held about what is needed to close these gaps (e.g. budget and/or resources needed or necessary change of systems, processes and controls etc).

In the worse case the gap(s) will not be closed, but at least you have achieved mutual awareness and hopefully responsibility. However, if the problem is material and addressed in the right way it more than likely it will be dealt accordingly. Why? It has become now a mutual responsibility.

From “VAT Throughput – Calculating The Taxes” (by Richard Cornelisse and Kelvin Hulsebos): Insight in the amount of VAT that globally has to be paid or recovered is important for creating proper internal awareness (top down, peers and bottom up), determining the risk appetite of the company and monitor as indirect tax function trends and changes. Throughput gives some insight where the scarce resources of the tax function should focus on.

Change Management:  Legislative Change

Tracking relevant changes across the globe can be realized via regularly monitoring these Website links (e.g. latest country updates, Global VAT rates and VIES validation, etc). Check this Blog’s Indirect Tax Newsreader often.

Richard’s postings about management of legislative change:

Change Management:  business change

From a tax perspective the difference between future firefighting or being in control has to do with being involved and the timing of that involvement. A tight connection to the business units and their decision-making process is essential. Leading practice example re non routine transactions by Richard Cornelisse:

  1. Merger and Acquisition – Integration and Indirect Tax: Managing The Moving Parts Before, During And After a Transaction (by Richard Cornelisse )
  2. The intersection Of VAT And Shared Service Centers. A Site For Global Savings Or A Source For Worldwide Risk? (by Richard Cornelisse and Katie Downs)
Structure the tax function and people development

From “The Indirect Tax Profession Is Evolving From An Individual To A Team Sport” (by Richard Cornelisse): Due to all technological developments it is already part of our present and future. A tax technical advice has to be implemented in systems, processes and controls.  Instructions have to be given to people outside the tax function.  Alignment with the business is key for the tax function to plan in time and avoid future firefighting.

In order to challenge and support a client in his mission an adviser should besides excellent technical skills have a good understanding of communication and collaboration, project management, change management, information technology, negotiation and leadership.

These competences overall are needed to be successful. This is not only applicable for the individual adviser, but as well for an organization with the aim to achieve or maintain market leadership. It is simply no longer possible to excel in everything re global indirect tax management. That means that certain people excel in certain areas of indirect tax and the outcome of the overall team effort will make the real difference from a quality standard perspective.

Jack Welch: “Break down barriers and improve teamwork up, down, and across organizational lines.  A considerable amount of money is lost due to disconnects or competition between groups that should be working for a common cause: providing value to customers”

Richard Cornelisse is CEO of the KEY Group and worked previously as Big4 Partner in the Tax Performance Advisory and Indirect Tax Practice and blogs on Tax Function Effectiveness and Tax Control Framework developments.

Tax Management Consultancy welcomes your opinion on any of the issues raised, so feel free to join in the discussion on LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook.


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