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50 Most Influential Companies of the Year 2021

Taxback International: Specializes in Value Added Tax (VAT) compliance and VAT reclaim

Taxback International: Specializes in Value Added Tax (VAT) compliance and VAT reclaim

Taxback International combines innovative technology, deep industry expertise, and value-added partnerships to deliver comprehensive solutions that streamline a business’s VAT management workflow so they can focus on growing your business.

Over the last year, Taxback International has undergone a major organizational pivot with a greater focus on digitalisation. They have also developed the world’s first end-to-end VAT compliance platform Comply. The development of Comply represents the company’s future-focused outlook and reaction to global tax trends.

We had a deep conversation with Catherine Quirke, CEO, to understand more about the company

Q. What was the idea behind Taxback International, and how has been the company’s journey so far?

Founded in 1996 by Terry Clune, Taxback International originally began by assisting foreign exchange students claim back their tax. Today, Taxback International is a world leader in VAT compliance and consultancy with over 2,000 global clients benefiting from our unique expert-led platforms. Our technology enables real-time processing of over 10 billion transactions across 180 countries in multiple languages. Taxback International is an entrepreneurial company, transforming how VAT compliance and recovery is managed on a global basis. Our people are incredibly ambitious, yet personable. We are warm, accepting, and positive. We constantly challenge each other to be and achieve the best.

Q. What was the biggest challenge in building one of the most technologically advanced, automated global VAT compliance platforms? 

Up until 2020, a large portion of Taxback International’s revenue was generated through reclaiming VAT on Travel and Expenses (T&E) for global enterprises. Due to the pandemic and the resulting restrictions on travel, there was a severe blow to the T&E’s for most companies. By mid-to-late 2020, it was clear that there would likely be no return to business-as-usual any time soon.

COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic made a massive impact on businesses and industries and ours was no exception. Given these pressing challenges, we successfully pivoted the organisation towards a greater focus on VAT compliance and digitalisation. This proved not only necessary for our organisation but, due to the increasing digitalisation of tax process across the world, for our global client base, too.

We hired specific development teams to help build this platform (Comply), including dedicated product managers to identify, plan and deliver new features and functionality. We also hired a significant number of VAT compliance-specific experts to further enhance the development of the platform but to also onboard new clients.

Another set of problems themarket has is in dealing with local tax authorities across multiple jurisdictions. Comply features a dashboard with a global map of all return statuses appearing green, amber or red. Errors or issues can be quickly identified and solved. Businesses also face the issue of security. Our digital architecture is multi-tenant by design, data filters are applied ensuring that access to data is restricted based on job role and associated access privileges. Data in transit is encrypted using SSL certificates (TLS 1.2) meaning that unauthorized individuals will not be able to decipher confidential information. We use data hosting providers Interxion and AWS, and 24 x 7 system monitoring is undertaken by our Security Operations Centre provider. Taxback International has a documented and established incident management procedure with incident severity and points of escalation defined.

Please see here the link to our Comply video –

“Comply is intuitively designed with real-time dashboards for forecasting data and analytics, removing risk, and giving visibility and control back to businesses.”

Elaborate a bit more about the product “Expert View.”

TBI Expert View is our brand-new series that provides a focused look into the evolving world of global VAT and what changes companies should be making for 2022. This series will feature discussions from industry experts on emerging trends such as increasing digitalisation of global tax processes, advisory information, as well as a look into our development of the world’s first end-to-end VAT compliance platform – Comply.The series will go through an overview of global indirect tax challenges and trends companies need to be aware of for 2022, but also provide expert insights and takeaways on the evolving digitalised tax landscape.

A guest speaker will join to discuss the successful partnership between Taxback International and AWS (Amazon Web Services). This discussion will look at early identification of scaling problems which led to our collaboration with AWS and a look at how AWS services makes the creation of  robust software platforms much simpler for modern businesses.

To round out our series, there will be a conversation on Global VAT digitalisation and the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for companies in 2022.

Q. How does the “Comply Platform” automate the preparation and filing of your VAT reclaims?

Comply’s logical, rules-based processes ensure world-wide compliance for every single transaction. Once uploaded to the Comply platform, each transaction is run through a 200-step validation process. This is an in-depth check list that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to uncover any potential errors, or anomalies. They also build robust data models to inspect data uncovering inconsistencies and delivering threading and predictive insights. These are then flagged for review. We use advance computer vision, machine learning algorithms to extract categories and augment the data from your invoice images with your transaction data. The Comply platform assigns a user who can check on the flagged transactions and then approve or deny the transaction. This allows forensic technological checking with total customizable control and complete visibility for VAT Managers.

Q. Tell us about your major clients and technology partners?

Our client list is global – working with almost all the Fortune 500 companies (Google, Tesla, Facebook, Twitter, IBM). Our technology enables real-time processing of over 10 billion transactions across 180 countries in multiple languages. We support over 12,000 customers in 120 countries and our senior VAT Advisors each have over 20 years industry experience.

We seamlessly and securely integrate with best-in-class technology providers for travel and expense, banking and payment systems, accounting and consulting firms and event management companies (SAP Concur, Zoho, Rydoo, Coupa, Grant Thornton, American Express).

Q. Do you have any upcoming expansion plans or any new product launches?

Over the coming years, Taxback International will continue to solidify its positioning as a global hub of VAT consultancy, while expanding regions of operation and opening more local offices. We want to offer our clients comprehensive global, digital services as well as expand our local network knowledge. We will also continue to improve our Comply platform with feedback from our on-boarded clients.

Due to the digitalization of global tax processes, technology solutions such as Comply will become integral for businesses. Eventually, it won’t be an option for businesses not to automate. Our platforms will continually adapt as the VAT landscape changes so businesses can be guaranteed they remain 100% compliant within this digital evolution.

Q. Would you like to add something we may have missed?

For more than twenty-five years, Taxback International has developed and deepened its knowledge of the VAT industry.

But going forward, expertise and experience will not be enough. Innovative and adaptable technology will be required to successfully navigate the evolving tax landscape.

Businesses need to use technology and digitalise their workflows to adapt to current tax authority processes. Taxback International has developed several platforms including an integrated payments solution (TBI Pay), an automated reclaim solution (VATConnect), and most recently, the world’s first end-to-end VAT compliance platform (Comply) to help businesses manage their VAT workflows efficiently.

Our ability to adapt to the evolving tax landscape and our willingness to refine our solutions is what will continue to set us apart.

Meet the luminary

Catherine is responsible for the overall global commercial strategy and development of Taxback International, driving business growth and market share. Catherine ensures that all functions of the organization are aligned to meet its strategic commercial and long-term objectives. Catherine has over 25 years’ experience working with global enterprise technology and fintech companies in the areas of sales, marketing and business development. She holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from Dublin Institute of Technology and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Selling from DIT in partnership with Enterprise Ireland.

“Our client list is global – working with almost all the fortune 500 companies (Google, Tesla, Facebook, Twitter, IBM).”

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