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What does digitalisation of tax mean for the profession?

27 January 2021: Governments, taxpayers and agents around the world are grappling with how digital technologies will transform tax systems. KPMG’s former Global Head of Tax, Jane McCormick, will delve into the key issues at this year’s Hardman Lecture. Sign up to join the event for free.

Jane McCormick recently retired from her position as Global Head of Tax and Legal Services at KPMG. “Little did I know when I got into tax 33 years ago, or even 10 years ago, that I would end my career with a large part of my job being to oversee the development and deployment of tax technologies,” she says.

In nearly five years in her global leadership role at KPMG, McCormick was responsible for assessing the impact of tax policy and administrative developments on the business and the development and implementation of the firm’s tax technology strategy.

McCormick drew on these experiences as one of the contributors to the Tax Faculty’s Wyman Symposium “Exploring the digital agenda” in November, where she provided the global context and gave insights into large businesses’ take on digitalisation of tax.

Her short presentation raised so many interesting points that the Tax Faculty asked her to expand on them for this year’s Hardman Lecture. Following in the footsteps of Wyman 2020, this year’s lecture is being held virtually on 2 February and anyone can register to attend for free.

In her presentation, McCormick will offer insights into the different ways in which different countries are approaching digitalisation, in terms of technology, types of tax involved and where they are in terms of deployment.

For example, she will highlight examples of how countries are tackling VAT using e-invoicing systems, the use of pre-population in PAYE systems and the challenges of digitalising corporation tax.

Alongside discussing the benefits offered by digitalisation McCormick will examine the challenges involved in making tax “just happen” through digital technologies, particularly in terms of data management and privacy, as well as what these mean for tax professionals.

“Until recently tax compliance has largely been a standalone, downstream activity involving data from existing paperwork or digital records to populate a tax return,” she says. “The big change, primarily driven by the tax authorities, is to move tax compliance up stream. To take data from underlying records and other verifiable data sources, to build the tax assessment where possible in real time.”

This means significant change for tax advisers, but McCormick is confident that the profession can adapt and will always have a role to play.

You can hear McCormick’s presentation in full and have the opportunity to pose questions directly to her by registering to attend this event.