What Business Tax Accountants Should be Discussing with Their Clients

It’s that time of year again. The fourth quarter is closing and tax season is coming soon. For business tax accountants, preparation for April has already begun.  Recently, KPMG came out with their list of the top tax issues that businesses will face in 2014. While it remains to be seen what will happen in regards to these issues, the article does raise some good points that business tax accountants, and tax accounting firms should discuss with their clients.

1.    Tax Reform and government bills- There has been a lot of discussion at Capitol Hill about making changes to the corporate tax system. The Obama administration is interested in closing loopholes and streamlining taxation to make it fair and revenue neutral, whereas the Republicans are interested in lowering the corporate tax rate to increase businesses’ ability to compete globally. While it is impossible to be sure of what will come of this, this is one area that business tax accountants will be keeping a close eye on to future. Another is the Marketplace Fairness Act. This Senate bill wants to grant states the ability to ensure that online and out of state merchants collect and remit sales tax on all goods sold. While it passed the Senate in 2013, it is currently in front of the House Committee for review. Along with the expected increased scrutiny of the IRS and the Repair Regulations and concerns over BEPS, companies of any size would benefit from proactive tax planning and strategies.

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2.    Technological changes and corporate tax strategies- As the article points out, the shift to cloud computing is ongoing. And with that come new tax challenges. Depending on how the government responds to this shift, there might be new tax penalties or incentives placed on cloud-based business and it remains to be seen how international tax issues may be affected by this shift. The article recommends that tax executives (and this should also include business tax accountants) “take a more active role in getting a “seat-at-the-table” early for their company’s cloud discussions”, reasoning that “not doing so may lead to missed incentives and planning opportunities as well as increased potential for risk and unforeseen liabilities down the road.” Along with this recommendation is the advice that “the coming year may be a good time for companies to review their corporate responsibility and philanthropy activities, not only to foster compliance with their tax-exempt status, but also to enhance their alignment with business strategy.” Streamlining such initiatives can benefit a business in the long run and may affect shareholder and public perceptions as well.

2014 is right around the bend, and with it we can expect many changes and developments. That is why it is crucial for business tax accountants to discuss these and other related issues with their clients as soon as possible. Ensuring that businesses remain well-informed of potential developments, liabilities and opportunities is at the heart of what a tax professional is all about. Together we can chart the future and ensure smooth sailing.

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