It has been a year since COVID-19 changed our everyday lives in ways we never could have predicted.
As the vaccination effort intensifies and leads us to our “new normal,” much is still uncertain. Although the nation understandably still focuses on the effects of the pandemic, we should not ignore the significant advancements that already have occurred in the United States and globally. At the same time, we need to look ahead, attempt to understand the potential implications to businesses and our role in them, analyze alternative scenarios, and choose a path forward in a changed world.
In our realm as corporate tax professionals, we’re seeing new technology that enables corporate taxpayers to file tax returns more efficiently, game-changing developments in the federal, state, and international arenas, and innovations in business operations that already affect all of our members.
Just take a look at recent evolutionary changes in the corporate tax space:
- Digital taxation initiatives. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G20 are grappling with the initiatives under the Pillar One and Two reports to determine how and where multinationals are taxed and how global minimum tax rates will be established. In addition, countries such as Canada are pursuing federal legislation addressing the taxation of foreign sellers and digital goods to ensure that our new economy does not disadvantage domestic companies. Ensuring that these approaches can be administered fairly and equitably remains an important priority for TEI’s advocacy team.
- Post–tax reform implementations and regulation. There can be no doubt that the confluence of tax reform and remote work made 2019 and 2020 two of the most challenging filing seasons for corporate taxpayers. The United States continues to refine and implement tax reform measures, as evidenced by regulatory guidance regarding FTC, GILTI, FDII, and IRC 163(j). After weighing in on the substance of these developments, TEI is committed to helping members digest and understand the issues and opportunities they present.
- State reactions to tax reform and nexus expansion. In the United States, states continue efforts to assess whether and how they implement federal tax reform at the state level; the parameters of the economic nexus doctrine and marketplace facilitator laws; and whether to expand their sales tax bases and increase sales tax rates. Such mechanisms will no doubt be at the center of states’ efforts to mitigate unprecedented state budget shortfalls created by the pandemic.
- Changes in business practices and operations. Companies have restricted travel, instituted virtual meetings to replace in-person meetings and events, and increased reliance on virtual forms of communication, including, of course, the ubiquitous Zoom call. Many companies navigated this transition seamlessly; however, even those that struggled to move from their previously paper-heavy world have made great strides in embracing the benefits of technology and automation. These innovations are here to stay, regardless of when and how tax departments are able to return to the company office.
As your Institute, TEI has reacted quickly and decisively to deal with the challenges and opportunities presented by these changes, which occurred seemingly at warp speed.
Working with our sponsors, TEI established a dynamic COVID-19 portal to enable members to stay up to date on COVID-19-related tax developments at home and around the world. We transformed our 2020 Midyear Conference to a virtual webinar series that took place over the course of several months last summer. And, most notably, we held our first-ever virtual Annual Conference in October, drawing more than 700 participants. Meanwhile, TEI’s chapters and regions also launched hundreds of virtual meetings and webinars around the world.
Today, we are excited to welcome our members and sponsors to TEI’s 2021 Virtual Midyear Conference, the theme of which is Choosing a Path Forward in a Changed World. This year’s Midyear Conference will provide members and speakers the opportunity to examine a broad range of technical, policy, and management topics focused on US federal, state, and international tax, as well as Canadian tax and COVID-19-related measures. Registration for the Midyear Conference is now open, and I encourage you to join us for this outstanding educational and networking experience.
Looking forward, TEI is reenvisioning its most popular seminars and courses—the Tax Technology Seminar, the Financial Reporting Seminar, and the Federal I Tax Course—to bring them to our members in virtual format this spring and summer. Each event will be optimized for a virtual experience, and we will continue to explore features and approaches to make these events engaging and interactive.
With these daily efforts to respond to the virtual environment, many of our members continue their important effort to develop TEI’s long-term strategic plan, Choosing the Path Forward, the cornerstone initiative of my presidency. The established workstreams address TEI’s plans for continuing education; advocacy and government liaison opportunities; operations and finance; marketing, communications, and membership; chapter development and relations; and governance and management. Determining strategic goals and objectives for each of these areas is essential to ensuring that our current and future members have unparalleled continuing education, advocacy, and networking opportunities and that TEI thrives as it addresses the many challenges and opportunities before it. Indeed, the pandemic has made TEI’s strategic plan even more critical during this time of unprecedented change.
I look forward to working with all of you in these efforts and seek your counsel and assistance as we chart a course for TEI that maximizes value for members and better integrates the Institute with its regions and chapters. Together, we will consider the alternatives and choose a path forward.
TEI International President