As an experienced Global Tax Leader & Non-Executive Director, Hilde Wampers has built an impressive curriculum. She was active at Proximus in tax planning and risk management for more than 20 years. How does she assess the importance of corporate tax planning for companies? And how do you get the best tax experts on board?
Corporate tax planning in driver's seat
A tax director or VP Tax in a company must closely monitor various key figures. Hilde Wampers: “I am thinking, among other things, of the Effective Tax Rate, Tax Cash and the number of tax disputes. How do you ensure proper follow-up of Tax Cash payments? How can you cover your upfront in discussions with the tax authorities? And what about the 'Risk Appetite' or risk appetite within your company? How much risk is internally accepted to create value and achieve a certain return? As a tax director or VP Tax, you should be able to openly have these kinds of discussions with your CEO or audit committee. After all, zero tolerance in terms of risks also comes with a price.”
Towards a business minded tax team
How did Hilde ensure that her team of tax experts also became real business partners with her previous employers? She explains: “A first screening of (new) top talent naturally takes place during selection interviews. Does anyone have the right mindset to proactively detect problems? Is the person in question above average inquisitive, negotiating and result-oriented? In addition, it is important to help colleagues to uncover their (hidden) professional talents. Through 'carefrontation' you can tackle points for improvement together.”
“Look for employees who can speak up and who dare to identify risks. In addition, project management and analytical skills are super important. Discuss with your team how colleagues can inspire each other, so that you can work together more efficiently. In tackling corporate tax issues, it is not only the opinion of the tax director that counts, but the vision of the entire team that makes the difference.”
Corporate tax planning: thinking along with business strategy
As a tax director or VP Tax, you and your team must constantly keep your finger on the pulse of the business strategy. Hilde explains why: “A clear view of the business strategy is essential for efficient tax planning. What is the business doing? How can the company tap into new markets? What does the convergence strategy look like? These strategic decisions always have an impact on the tax assets. In other words, how does management manage to reorganize the company in the most cost-efficient way and prepare it for future challenges?”
“As a tax team, you have to understand where the business wants to go, in order to understand the impact on tax level. It is important here that you properly estimate all possible scenarios. The work of the tax team is much more than just seeing opportunities. The purely conceptual must be supplemented with an eye for detail in its implementation, including correct tax returns and an annual follow-up. Over the years, this has become increasingly important, driven by the need for more transparency.”
Which key figures should a tax director or VP Tax focus on? How do you develop a business-driven tax team that gets to work in all transparency? Listen to our podcast with Hilde Wampers here.