One of the drawbacks of being a sales tax specialist is that sometimes it’s harder to get invited to the “party” – whether it’s a planning meeting, product launch, or growth strategy session. Leadership and others outside the sales tax department don’t realize the value you could bring to strategic, important discussions.
We’ve heard from many of you that sales tax isn’t seen as relevant or as prestigious as federal tax in the company – that it gets pushed to the back burner.
We seek to change that perception.
The truth is sales tax is relevant to most strategic discussions going on in your company. Don’t buy into the story that sales tax is the “forgotten step-child” of tax.
Sales tax directly impacts the bottom line and touches every aspect of the business. Sales tax professionals have to understand the details of how the business is run from contracting to marketing to invoicing to manufacturing processes (and beyond) to do their jobs well.
Chances are you do not give yourself due credit for your importance. In order to get invited to the larger strategic table, you must first change how you perceive sales tax, talk about your position, and value your own impact.
Here are some ways to highlight your skills and get more involved in your company. These ideas can help you advocate for yourself and your department and get your company to see your value.
Yes, the sales tax department does not directly generate revenue, but that should not impact your perception or your company’s perception of its value.
The sales tax department processes invaluable data that can aid in strategic decisions, steers the company clear of compliance issues, and saves the company money in the form of exemptions and credits. Company investment in the sales tax department is actually an opportunity to get better data, save money, develop leaders, and more!
As a sales tax professional, you have a number of specialized skills that can benefit other departments. Establish working relationships with teams outside the tax department to ensure your company is taking full advantage of the latest opportunities in state tax. Sales tax pros can create great collaborative connections with groups like legal/contracts, purchasing, and IT.
You can start casually by simply making connections and asking questions or more formally with meetings to understand the inner workings of each department as part of a larger project. Characterize yourself as an internal consultant with either approach. Help foster an understanding in the company of the many ways a sales tax pro can help.
Exemptions are an area where you can really shine as they can offer huge savings to your company.
When you find a new exemption, don’t just calculate its savings for the year – project it 3-5-10 years in the future. This can be especially helpful if you find an exemption your company could qualify for with some changes to processes or operations. Demonstrate the long-term savings for doing the work necessary for the exemptions. Share these projections with your leadership and paint the picture for the financial advantage.
Keep sales tax on your leadership’s radar by requesting a monthly meeting with them. It can be a time to review the latest in sales tax changes and your research. Bring to light legislative changes your company needs to get ahead on or strategic ideas you have that could bring cost savings.
Company expansion/growth teams need representation from the tax department. Otherwise, potential tax planning opportunities like tax credits and incentives might be overlooked. Best part? You don’t have to wait to be invited, you can volunteer to attend these groups! Tax considerations need to be “front-end” initiatives.
You don’t have to wait for others to recognize your efforts or the sales tax department’s successes. Take the lead! You can create a recognition program within the department that documents and rewards individuals for meeting goals and exceeding expectations. Recognition doesn’t have to only be top-down, it can be peer to peer and bottom-up.
Don’t forget to communicate successes externally across the company. Bring up achievements of sales tax staff in meetings, a department newsletter, or on social media.
Speak positively about your impact and when you have success. Show it and proudly display your inner sales tax nerd. The value your job and your department brings to the company is worth advocating for.
Are there other ways you’ve brought sales tax to the attention of superiors and other departments? We’d love to hear from you!
If you’d like a visual way to display your pride for your profession, we can help! We have created “sales tax nerd” stickers and would love to send you one. Email [email protected] with your mailing address and we’ll get one in the mail.