Chapter 16

Business Tax Costs



What’s different about tax planning and compliance at low-tax companies? A new study of 211 international companies from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) proves what most controllers already know: that companies that plan for taxes and involve tax specialists in broad business planning tend to keep this cost down. It also finds that companies that pay lower taxes make sure that those employees who oversee corporate tax obligations have contact with a wide range of nontax personnel, including business unit managers and board members. In addition, it finds that there is a strong correlation between higher active tax management and a lower effective tax rate. Again, this simply demonstrates what all controllers know: there are plenty of opportunities in most companies to manage the tax charge.

This study relies heavily on what PwC calls the effective tax rate (ETR). Basically, the ETR is a corporation’s tax charge as a proportion of pretax profits. One key finding is that the ETR for these 211 respondents ranges widely:

  • Less than 24% effective tax rate—12% of respondents
  • 24% to 28% ETR—11%
  • 28% to 32% ETR—24%
  • 32% to 36% ETR—24%
  • 36% to 40% ETR—26%
  • 40% or more ETR—3%

In addition, this study shows that there are significant ramifications as this cost rises, particularly at public companies. Says PwC: “We have modeled the potential impact of a change in the cash tax rate on shareholder value for ...

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