Tax Departments Increasingly Aligned With Overall Business Strategy And Board Management: KPMG Report

US-Based Multinational Tax Departments Try to Strike Balance between Value-Adding Services and Regulatory and Compliance Demands

Feb 27, 2013, 10:08 ET from KPMG LLP

NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid continuing economic and political uncertainty, senior management at US-based multinational companies are relying on their tax departments, now more than ever, to provide guidance and expertise on complicated regulatory and compliance issues, according to a new report from KPMG International.

According to KPMG's Good, Better, Best survey, tax departments are reporting increased alignment with their boards, with 80 percent of US-based respondents saying their boards are  directly involved in providing guidance on tax approaches and risks, up from 51 percent in 2009.

The KPMG survey polled 1,150 heads of tax in 22 countries, including 100 U.S. respondents, to determine how tax operations are being shaped in businesses worldwide. The survey, last conducted in 2009, shows tax departments today are better integrated into the overall business strategy of the company, (93% reporting).

"Having tax at the table is critical to foster effective overall business strategy," said Brad Sprong, partner and West region Tax Transformation and Outsourcing leader at KPMG. "Greater visibility to C-level management provides tax departments a chance to address major compliance and financial reporting issues with their boards more regularly, helping to address and prevent potential reputational risks to the company."

While increased visibility within their companies has proven positive for tax departments over the past three years, other factors, including their operational efficiency, are being called into question, according to the report. Under pressure to cut costs, US companies are investing less in improving in-house tax departments than they did in 2009 and less than their global counterparts currently. Instead, US companies appear to be shifting tax department activities to shared services centers at a higher rate than global companies, (at a rate of 50% compared to 30% globally).

Further, 25% of US respondents reported they expect their tax department to "change" in the near future. Of these, reducing costs was first among the primary reasons for the change, named in 80% of cases.

"US companies are under increasing economic and regulatory pressures and are looking for ways to strike a balance between cost-cutting measures and quality," KPMG's Sprong said. "In light of the challenges ahead, forward-thinking US companies should be considering their business case for additional investments in tax process and technology improvement."

To read the full U.S. survey results, click here.

About the survey

KPMG International's global survey of people in charge of tax policy and operations of companies worldwide is one of the largest of its kind.  Iterations of the survey have been conducted regularly since 2006, charting the evolution of leading tax departments and identifying operational benchmarks for high-performing tax teams.

In 2012, 1,150 heads of tax in 22 countries took part in blind telephone surveys to share their opinions on how tax departments are adapting to current business challenges. About 700 of respondent companies are Fortune 500, Forbes 2000 or equivalent. To gain more clarity on the telephone survey results, additional in-depth interviews were conducted with several clients of KPMG member firms and tax professionals worldwide.

The full Global report is now available at Check often for detailed country reports that are constantly being added.

KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (, is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"). KPMG International's member firms have 152,000 professionals, including more than 8,600 partners, in 156 countries.

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