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ECJ decisions are challenging finance executives Back  
European Court of Justice decisions and EU directives are becoming increasingly problematic for finance executives in Europe, a new survey has revealed, which also rates one Irish tax adviser very highly.
Keeping abreast of developments and growing compliance complexity is the number one challenge facing tax executives and chief financial officers in Europe, a new survey conducted by industry publication International Tax Review has revealed.

Transfer pricing is the second biggest challenge, followed in third place by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions, EU tax law harmonisation and accession issues. Last year EU directives and ECJ decisions did not feature in the top ten challenges facing tax directors at all.

ECJ decisions are important for Noel Dinsmore, chief revenue officer at technology company Verizon GS Ireland, ‘I maintain a constant watch on developments, considering their impact, if any, to my positions,’ he said.

With more and more cases now being referred to the ECJ, including the recent high profile Marks & Spencer case, the court’s decisions are increasing tax executives’ work exponentially. According to the survey respondents, the biggest impact ECJ decisions and EU directives have is in changing the tax planning strategy or practices, and increasing the need for tax advice services. It also increases the compliance burden.

The level of satisfaction with tax advice dropped sharply from last year’s survey. Almost all countries in the survey, including Ireland, received a lower satisfaction rating. This year Ireland’s satisfaction rating was at 1.47 (2 = very satisfied; 1 = satisfied; -1 = unsatisfied).

The survey also asked respondents how tax advisers could improve their services. The dominant response to this was that they could understand their client’s business and industry better. Echoing this, Paul O’Brien, group finance director at personal products company IWP International, thought that tax directors could improve services by ‘getting more pro-actively in tune with the business strategy’.

Other ways to improve tax advice was to have faster response times and proactive advice, and to provide more internationally comprehensive advice.

The survey also asked respondents to name an individual that influenced their choice of firm. Of the top ten names chosen, one Irish tax adviser made the list, John Fay, of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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