How to follow the Yellow Brick Road of tax

It takes brains, heart, and courage.


Video transcript:

I like to think of the framework as both a road map and a tool for CPAs and businesses to use. If you think about it like the Yellow Brick Road, you have to follow the Yellow Brick Road to get to your result and the result is an accurate and effective tax result, so whether that’s a number for your tax provision or it is an amount that you put on a tax return form that gets filed in a certain jurisdiction ultimately to get to that result, you have to follow these pillars and this Yellow Brick Road toward the answer. All of the components working together are what are going to get you the right result. So the framework itself cannot operate with a piece missing, you need the people, you need the technology, you need the strategy, all of it has to come together to really be an effective operational model for a business or firm.

Beyond people, we go to the process, whether the process is that they are actually performing in order to produce a tax result. We get into data and information, and this is actually a very critical area now because tax produces or consumes an incredibly large amount of information in an organization, and tax professionals working in this area have to understand how to not only grab that information, manipulate it, analyze it, they have to ensure it’s accurate, they have to have technology and tools, which helps them pull it. So that brings me into the technology component. Without technology with today’s environment, the risk and everything that is driving tax results, we would not be able to achieve what we need to in order to mitigate the risk and comply in any kind of way that meets the deadlines and targets of the global economy. Beyond that, controls and strategy really surround the whole environment. So the historical triangle of people, process, and technology has been expanded. We have said this framework is actually broader than what we might have thought of in the past, and it’s back to the point that tax has changed 180 degrees since we started and since what historically CPAs have seen as why they should care about tax.

And in that change, we have now expanded the operational model to say that beyond the standard people, process, and technology that we need just to do tax, we need to really understand data, we need to have a thorough control structure to mitigate risk, and we better have it all embedded inside a real tax strategy that can be applied for an organization. And that’s just one example of how we look at it in a business and that business can be large or small. As a CPA, it’s an even broader understanding we have to have because our clients may be those businesses. So for our business entities, we have to understand how they are operating their tax department, where we serve as advisers, where we can help them with their process, help them understand the risk both nationally or globally. We also are going to help them to understand the technologies that they can use to streamline their processes. Bottom line, they have to mitigate risk, produce accurate results timely. The CPAs are going to advise on that. Sometimes as CPAs we actually take on the task of performing the tax department’s work on their behalf in an outsourcing capacity. From that perspective, we actually are the tax department for that business, and although we might be placed in the firm, we have to do and consider the same exact aspects of how do we collect the information from our clients, what data is coming from upstream, what technology do we need to utilize then and what are the controls and strategy that are helping us mitigate the risk.


The AICPA Tax Information and Operations Management (TIOM) Task Force strives to educate and bring needed focus to the areas of tax operations, including information management, process optimization, and the technologies and strategies that support all tax professionals.

The members of this task force are senior-level tax professionals from diverse backgrounds (public practice, consulting, and business and industry) who have built their careers by fostering innovation—constantly working to enhance the future of tax-related processes and technology in an age where business interests are increasingly taking on global dimensions.

We write articles, speak at high-profile conferences, host webcasts, and publish other guidance to help businesses and firms—of all sizes—improve tax-related information management and processes and, as a result, maximize their bottom line. We promote the CPA name and the esteemed CITP and CGMA credentials, and ensure CPA tax professionals remain the premier provider of tax services.

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