Digitization and tax law for high potentials
Digitalization has shaken up tax law, and as a result also tax advice. More and more people are looking for training and continuous education in the fields of legal and tax technology. Also KPMG Germany is sending its high potentials to the WU Executive Academy to complete its LL.M. program in Digitalization & Tax Law.
All industries are undergoing a digital transformation, and tax law is no exception. A part-time master’s program at the WU Executive Academy deals with the expertise and competences required to be able to use modern technologies such as automatization and artificial intelligence (AI) in tax matters: a new round of the Digitalization & Tax Law master’s program will start in September 2021. One of the lecturers in this 12-month continuous education course is renowned tax expert Prof. Robert Risse, the former Corporate Vice President Tax & Trade at Henkel. He recalls that digitalization first became a topic in tax law in 2016: “The significance of data had massively increased; with our master’s program, we were among the first training providers to react to this development.”
The Master of Laws program is divided into three modules. In the first module, participants work on international tax law. “This includes an awareness for the fact that numerous aspects of handling taxable events can be automated, for instance in the case of withholding tax,” Risse explains. The second module is about business process modeling, a topic that has so far stayed under the radar of tax experts in Risse’s opinion. For program participants, it will be important to develop a sound grasp of processes in tax technology and be able to closely link them to legal technology. Risse heads the third module himself. The focus will be on tax processes most suited for automatization. These include processes related to value-added tax, tariffs, and transfer pricing, as well as transactional tax processes such as withholding tax collection and offset. In the course of this module, students will discuss practical use cases. “This enables participants to practice and develop creative solutions.”
Finance audit and tax advisory provider KPMG Germany has recently included this program in its list of further education offers it partly sponsors. This means that KPMG reimburses employees who successfully apply for the master’s program for part of its costs. “A key appeal for us to cooperate with the WU Executive Academy was WU Vienna’s offer to design a practice-focused master’s program including both industry experts and teaching professionals,” says Marko Gründig, Head of Tax at KPMG Germany. The program is a well-balanced combination of tax expertise and technological and process skills, which are increasingly gaining importance. “So far, it’s a unique offer on the continuous education sector – that’s why we decided to go with the WU Executive Academy.”
For KPMG, this collaboration is not only about training its staff. It also increases its appeal as an employer. Particularly high potentials value cutting-edge continuous education programs that reliably reflect the latest developments. The master’s program dovetails neatly with KPMG’s strategic agenda and projections of the future job profile of tax consultants. Marko Gründig comments, “The way in which both finance authorities and our clients handle tax affairs is continuously getting more digital. In the future, tax advisors will need more and more technological and process skills on top of tax expertise to be able to comprehensively support and advise clients as they digitalize their tax departments.” Completing the master’s program at the WU Executive Academy will enable KPGM employees to acquire a solid skillset in these intersecting fields. This expertise increasingly sought after by clients will optimally prepare them for tax consulting tasks in the future. “That’s why I am confident that the master’s program will be a highly attractive offer for potential employees of KPMG,” Gründig concludes.
For Robert Risse, the collaboration with KPMG bears proof to the fact that tax and legal technologies can be most beneficially put to use if users know how to handle them. “It’s key that human actors, processes and technology click. Without people who know how to use it, technology will inevitably fail.” He emphasizes the important role of capable cooperation partners who stay ahead of the competition in the continuous education sector, such as the WU Executive Academy. If you stand still, you will fall behind, because today’s technological advances take place at an insane speed. “Only a few years ago, there were so many tasks we had to do ourselves. Today, users don’t even have to tell programmers anymore what they need.” The technical solutions and tools can be applied by final users themselves. As a result, for instance payroll and sales taxation can be automated. Considering all of this, he expects exciting new topics to emerge in the course of the master’s program’s next round. “We also plan to do more research on tax and legal technology to be able to proactively support innovations in these fields ourselves,” Robert Risse explains.
Learn more about the LL.M. Digitaliization & Tax Law