Unlocking opportunities in the quest for global tax parity: strategic career moves for tax partners in 2024
Overall, 2023 saw the world of tax seek to solidify common standards via a significant legislative overhaul. Oleg Rak, managing partner of specialist tax recruitment firm Mason Rak, analyses current trends from the year, and what they mean for tax leaders looking to gain an advantage in a competitive market
After a glowing 2022, 2023 was a year of consolidation with the global tax market under continuous pressure to deliver consistent growth. In emerging markets, legislation was amended to bring TP rules and tax regimes in line with global standards. In advanced jurisdictions like the US, there was a reinvigorated focus on tax enforcement.
However, there is still a high demand for great people and a war for tax talent is ongoing. But for those senior tax professionals who know how to build a successful business there are exciting prospects in the market.
Mason Rak identifies these senior professionals as ‘Superstars’ – those already playing in the highest league, partners or partners-in-the-making, with a specialist skillset, ready to take their career to the next level.
Global tax trends: upheaval and scandal
A legislative deadlock did not prevent the US from being the centre of attention for many tax professionals this year. The OECD’s pillar two project has still not been adopted in the region, and the Republican Party has heavily indicated that the initiative will be heavily scrutinised.
But it was the news that the IRS will be receiving significant additional funding for enforcement activities for large corporates and wealthy individuals that caught the eye. This increased pressure was matched by a growing range of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms which taxpayers and practitioners will need to come to terms with. Add in a highly active M&A market, and an election year on the horizon, and the US will continue to require advice from highly skilled tax professionals.
In Asia Pacific, many jurisdictions are still scrambling to meet international standards. Southeast Asia in particular has seen countries augmenting their TP capabilities, often via increased audits and compliance checks. This has led to stricter approaches in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam – the latter of which is increasingly adopting new technologies to assist in TP investigations. Such crackdowns will necessitate an influx of tax expertise in the region.
Meanwhile, jurisdictions like India have attempted to reach tax parity for resident and non-resident investors by amending direct tax laws, all while still trying to be attractive to foreign investment.
On the subject of investment – the Asia Pacific region has become a key growth market for private clients, as high-net-worth individuals seek to diversify their portfolios. China is and will remain an attractive jurisdiction for investment, but 2023 saw a flurry of wealth enter Singapore in particular. Such an influx of capital will likely entail a wave of new tax opportunities in the region.
Perhaps the story of the year however is the PwC tax leak scandal, which originated in Australia in May but quickly ignited global discussion. International regulators and tax authorities will be keeping an eye on the Australian response to the use of confidential client information for PwC’s commercial gain, with further red tape for tax advisers seeming a likely outcome. While undoubtedly a challenge, leadership opportunities will present themselves for intrepid tax professionals in this difficult period.
The story in Europe over the last year has been dominated by legislation, with a plethora of provisions already implemented and many still on the horizon. Opportunities will present themselves for indirect tax advisors as the EU’s ‘VAT in the Digital Age’ proposal looms large, promising to crack down on VAT fraud and improve VAT efficiency through real-time reporting and e-invoicing.
Likewise, the focus on environmental regulation continued in Europe as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) was phased in throughout the year. Companies that fail to comply with CBAM reporting requirements will be subject to a financial penalty of €50 per tonne of carbon emissions, making professional advice in this area invaluable.
It doesn’t end there – the Business in Europe: Framework for Income Taxation has caused a stir among business groups over fears that the EU could be diverging from the arm’s-length principle. Taxpayers will need high-level counsel on which TP rules to adopt amid this regulatory upheaval.
The Middle East has undergone significant changes in recent years as a tax jurisdiction, largely via a wave of corporate tax reforms. In fact, the UAE has introduced penalties for taxpayers that fail to register with the relevant authority for corporate tax purposes, underlining this increased pressure.
But the region has also increasingly embraced technology: 2023 saw Saudi Arabia implement e-invoicing mandates which require taxpayers to no longer store or generate paper invoices. As the Middle East continues to develop, as does its need for qualified tax professionals to help navigate the growing complexity.
From a global industry perspective, the oil and gas sector continues to be squeezed by international environmental commitments and tax scrutiny. For example, the UK’s Energy Profits Levy has put a marginal tax rate of 75% on North Sea oil and gas production, and this is set to continue for the next five years. However international demand for oil and gas remains high, at least in the short-term.
And in financial services, unprecedented levels of regulatory complexity continue to present challenges, but global growth in this sector is inevitable as new payment methods and providers burst onto the scene to keep up with ever-increasing need. Upheaval in all industries will lead to opportunities for tax leaders who have a niche expertise.
The war for talent
Despite the challenges ahead, 2024 is set to be a banner year with continuous growth in all facets of the tax market. Those Superstars with the specialist skillset and desire to push themselves further will find a tax world brimming with opportunity.
For tax leaders looking to make a strategic career move, these global trends should act as a guide to the qualities desired and required by businesses at this dynamic time.
Whether you are considering a local move, or exploring strategic tax opportunities overseas, our team at Mason Rak will be glad to support. Our mission is to help senior tax professionals reach their full potential and enjoy a career which befits their talent and professional acumen.
To read case studies from tax professionals who have worked with Mason Rak and secured strategic tax roles, please visit the Mason Rak website.
Case study: navigating global tax markets – tax partner transition to Singapore
In the dynamic world of international tax markets, Mason Rak partnered with a seasoned tax partner from the USA. Together, they embarked on a strategic journey, leveraging Singapore's tax landscape. This collaboration thrived on Mason Rak's reputation for precision and excellence in executive placements.
The move from the USA to Singapore was more than a relocation—it was a deliberate step toward professional growth. The tax partner aimed to expand beyond borders, finding a platform that suited his established clientele and tapped into a global network of firms. The challenge was multi-faceted: aligning aspirations, bridging geographical gaps, and fostering an environment for substantial growth.
Beyond conventional placements, our role evolved into a strategic partnership. Armed with comprehensive market insights, we aligned the tax partner’s ambitions with firms that matched his strategic goals. Our extensive global network facilitated meaningful discussions, allowing for a nuanced evaluation of potential options. Our focus was not just transactional but also on crafting a purposeful, seamless transition.
This collaboration culminated in the tax partner securing a pivotal role within a prestigious global law firm in Singapore. While specifics remain confidential, our ability to orchestrate this strategic evolution—breaking geographical barriers for professional growth—was key. The integration process, meticulously planned to suit the relocation, was made smoother by the firm's capabilities and our commitment to seamless integration.
In the tax partner's words: "Mason Rak's keen guidance and vast connections were instrumental in shaping this strategic move. They didn't just place me in a new firm; they amplified my strategic vision."
This case study underscores our role as facilitators, architects of transformative transitions that leverage our global network, ensuring seamless integration and collaborative success. It's a testament to our commitment to driving professional growth and enabling strategic career moves for tax partners globally.