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ALL ABOUT YOU! The Life and Times of Senior Women in Indirect Tax…

I am delighted to present the second in a series of profiles of senior women in Indirect Tax. The aim is to showcase the talents, experience and stories of these amazing women, and provide some insight into their professional and personal lives, what inspires them and what wisdom they can share. My second interviewee is Alison Hone, Charity VAT and Tax Group HR Partner at Saffery Champness.

Alison Hone

Alison is head of the firm’s VAT services for their charity and not-for-profit clients. Alison is a member of the firm’s Not-for-Profit Practice Group and manages a wide portfolio of charity clients, including thirty percent of the top 100 fundraising charities, many household name charities, sports clubs, and charity and not-for-profit umbrella bodies, religious organisations, hospices and approximately twenty different charities within the Wildlife trust network.

Alison manages the firms wholly dedicated team of charity and not-for-profit VAT specialists. She has contributed articles to Charity Finance Magazine, as well as writing news updates, internal guidance and fact sheets for the sector as a whole. Alison sits on the Charity Tax Group’s VAT expert group and attends observer meetings. 

Alison organises the firm’s VAT workshop series for charities and not-for-profit organisations and is a regular speaker at these events. Alison also regularly attends the sector conference on VAT and tax matters and has spoken at the Charity Finance Group and Civil Society VAT & Tax conferences. 

Alison joined Saffery Champness in 2003. Her work prior to joining the firm was with HMRC where she was a VAT visiting officer. 

Alison Hone

  1. What gets you up in the morning?
    Having a great team of people that I work with and the most amazing clients.
  2. Can you describe your current role to me in 1 sentence?
    Charity VAT and Tax Group HR Partner at Saffery Champness
  3. What led you to your current position?
    Leaving HMRC, hard work and a fantastic mentor
  4. How did you get into Indirect Tax in the first place?
    By accident. I thought I was having a summer by the seaside following my exams but was told I had to get a job so I took an admin job in HMRC. 30 years later, I am still in VAT!
  5. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Indirect Tax industry right now?
    Retention of staff and uncertainty with Brexit
  6. What barriers have you had to overcome during your career to date?
    Making the leap from HMRC to the private sector was a massive challenge and extremely daunting. Latterly having increased responsibility and the overwhelming challenge of HR matters as well as VAT.
  7. Have there been times when you considered changing career tack?
    Yes I have
  8. And if yes – what made you stay?
    At times my mind wanders but to be honest, I genuinely love my job and the work I do and so feel happy to stay.
  9. What has been your ‘career-defining’ moment?
    That moment when you get appointed Partner.
  10. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
    I always wanted to be a teacher or a chef.
  11. What advice would you give to your younger self?
    Never give up. I didn’t go to university and left college with 8 GCSE’s. I had to work hard to get where I am today and be accepted as a Partner. I think I’m the only Partner here without a degree.
  12. What are your honest thoughts on social media?
    It’s a bit like marmite – love it or hate it.
  13. If you won a big award, who would you thank?
    My family, team and my mentor.
  14. What’s the best thing anyone has ever done for you?
    Spending time with a friend who made me make a life changing decision three years ago and to help make it happen.
  15. What’s the one word you’d want people to describe you with?
    Happy.
  16. Books or kindle?
    Books
  17. What is your best time saving tip?
    Ocado online food shopping.
  18. What has been the best part of your day today?
    Having a trip to Harrogate cancelled because of the snow forecast and having a unplanned cheeky coffee with a great friend early.
  19. Favorite holiday destination?
    Lanzarote – I’m going on Sunday…
  20. Tell me one thing that people might not know about you……
    I’m a singer and have sung in a church choir for the last 38 years.

 

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ALL ABOUT YOU! The Life and Times of Senior Women in Indirect Tax…

I am delighted to present the first in a series of profiles of senior women in Indirect Tax. The aim is to showcase the talents, experience and stories of these amazing women, and provide some insight into their professional and personal lives, what inspires them and what wisdom they can share. My first interviewee is Kendra Hann, leader of Deloitte’s NWE Indirect Tax practice.

Kendra Hann

Kendra is the North West Europe (NWE) indirect tax leader responsible for managing Deloitte’s NWE indirect tax practice. This includes VAT, customs and excise duties, IPT and environmental taxes. She has worked in indirect tax since 1986 in the tax authority, business and the profession.

Kendra specialises in advising multinational clients on their global indirect tax issues – primarily those in the telecommunications and life sciences sectors. She is widely known in the market as a leading edge practitioner by colleagues in the profession, industry and in government.

Kendra is a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and represents Deloitte on a number of HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs working parties.

Kendra Hann

  1. What gets you up in the morning?
    My dog, Ralph. A walk with him at 6am wakes me up and gives me time to plan my day.
  2. Can you describe your current role to me in 1 sentence?
    I lead the indirect tax practice at Deloitte across North West Europe (UK, Belgium, Ireland, Nordics, The Netherlands)
  3. What led you to your current position?
    I led the UK indirect tax practice for 3 years and was asked to lead NWE when the member firms combined.
  4. How did you get into Indirect Tax in the first place?
    I applied for an Executive Officer position in the Civil Service after leaving school and selected what was then HM Customs & Excise as the department I wanted to join. VAT was a relatively new tax and I thought it sounded interesting. I duly did that starting as a Trainee VAT Inspector in Southall VAT Office in 1986.
  5. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the Indirect Tax industry right now?
    There are various challenges facing our industry at the moment.  The two main ones for me are globalisation and the need to be aware of indirect tax rules and developments globally as many of the laws have extra-terrestrial application and compliance. Getting certainty that VAT and duty is being calculated and reported correctly in every jurisdiction a business operates in is a massive challenge for businesses – and for advisers to have the necessary skills in ERP, improving data quality and global processes.
  6. What advice would you give to young professionals – especially women – starting out on their Indirect Tax careers?
    Find – and make use of – a good mentor. That doesn’t have to be another woman but someone you trust in your organisation who can help champion you at the top table and who can offer advice on projects to undertake to raise your profile.
  7. What barriers have you had to overcome during your career to date?
    I have been lucky enough not to encounter many barriers.  Like most people, my biggest barrier is time and not having enough of it! That was especially challenging when my children were small but fortunately I have a supportive (and long suffering!) husband.
  8. Have there been times when you considered changing career tack?
    I did consider – briefly – moving into corporation tax when I worked in industry in order to progress. Instead I decided to continue in indirect tax but in the profession which gave me a clearer career path.
  9. And if yes – what made you stay?
    It’s always been variety that has kept me interested. I never know what the day will bring – a business scenario that brings indirect tax challenges, staff issues or both – usually at the same time!
  10. What has been your ‘career-defining’ moment?
    My career defining moment was moving from BP – where I was very happy and had a great role but little chance to progress upwards without moving tax disciplines – to Arthur Andersen.  It gave me far more variety of clients to work on and people to work with. 
  11. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
    I first wanted to be a cleaner when I was about 5 but then changed to being a hairdresser – it seemed a good career to talk and meet lots of people but I was persuaded by my Dad and careers teacher at school to think of law. So I guess lawyer would have been my aspiration in my teens.
  12. What advice would you give to your younger self?
    Be more confident of your own ability and what you can add.
  13. What are your honest thoughts on social media?
    Social media is great – if used with care! With two teenage children I quickly had to get used to Snapchatting them and learning how to stalk them on Instagram. I don’t use it for much else to be honest. 
  14. If you won a big award, who would you thank?
    My husband and my team.
  15. What’s the best thing anyone has ever done for you?
    Not sure it was the best thing but it was certainly good fun – organising a surprise 40th Birthday party for me at what should have been a staff function.
  16. What’s the one word you’d want people to describe you with?
    Great!
  17. Books or kindle?
    Both.
  18. If you could have a Skype chat with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
    Tutankhamun.
  19. What is your best time saving tip?
    Run between meetings!
  20. What has been the best part of your day today?
    Reviewing a business case for a partner promotion. 
  21. Favorite holiday destination?
    Suffolk.
  22. Tell me one thing that people might not know about you……
    I’m untidy.

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Making Tax Digital – some breathing space, but only for a few?

There have been a number of calls in recent months for the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) to be put back due to uncertain times ahead, Brexit of course playing a large part in that. HMRC is pressing ahead with the launch of MTD this April however they have made a decision to delay the launch for six months for a small number of VAT registered businesses with more complex requirements.   The businesses whose arrangements are considered to be more complex in nature include trusts, not for profit organisations, public sector entities, traders based overseas, those required to make payments on account, annual accounting scheme users and companies that are VAT registered in divisions of within a VAT group.

Whilst the announcement of the delay is recognition that some of the UK’s largest taxpayers are experiencing difficulties in getting ready for MTD, the vast majority of businesses are unaffected by the announcement.  HMRC says that the deferral will apply to around 3-5% of businesses. Here is everything you need to know about the new digital tax system, planned for just three days after Brexit…..

 

Digital Tax

The Future of Indirect Tax…

For a bit of fun; we’ve been running a survey over the last few months to gather people’s thoughts on the future of Indirect Tax in the UK; thanks to everyone who participated. The winner of the prize draw for £100 of Amazon vouchers was Bob Fitzsimmons – Congratulations Bob!

The results are in:

Q1. In 2028, the people with responsibility for completing Indirect Tax returns in businesses will be most likely described as:

Q1.2

 BLT comment – the overwhelming majority view that robots will be running the VAT return process is no great surprise, but will be of concern to those Indirect Tax specialists who have carved out their careers in return completion roles. For such, the advice would be to upskill your experience so that you feel completely on top of the technological advances, so that your role ends up as management of the robots. If technology is not your thing, then that’s a bigger concern, and may prompt thoughts of career change.

 

Q2. In 2028, the bulk of an Indirect Tax advisor’s working week will be predominantly:

Q2

BLT comment – equal weighting given to views that an Indirect Tax adviser will be either advising on compliance processes/reporting structures vs. advising on the legislation. So pretty much as it is now!

 

Q3. If you were to advise the professional services firms on their recruitment strategy for the future, what would you suggest should be the focus?

Q3

BLT comment – hiring current Indirect Tax specialists and graduates and training them up in technology the most favoured route. Surprisingly few opting for hiring technology specialists with no Indirect Tax technical experience, suggesting that the Indirect Tax world will remain a comparatively ‘closed’ community.

 

Q4. Which Indirect Tax professionals will benefit the most from Brexit?

Q4

BLT comment – UK trained Indirect Tax specialists win out in the battle of who will do best out of the whole Brexit fiasco!

 

Q5. Taking a step away from Indirect Tax, what’s your predictions about the impact of Brexit on the UK economy:

Q5

BLT comment – well, one can confidently read into this that the bulk of the Indirect Tax population are die hard ‘Remainers’! The vast majority predicting a fair amount of adverse impact for at least ten years doesn’t exactly translate into vast amounts of confidence, particularly when pretty much the same number believe that we’re doomed for eternity as those voting for Brexit being a good thing ultimately!

 

Q6. But is Brexit good news for the need for Indirect Tax expertise/services

Q6

BLT comment – regardless of people’s personal opinions, Brexit is overwhelmingly voted for as good news for Indirect Tax specialists.

 

Q7. And what do you predict will be the immediate impact (i.e. first 18 months) on the UK Indirect Tax job market in the professional services firms once the UK has left the EU?

Q7

BLT comment – steady and cautious growth predicted in the professional services firms rather than gigantic hiring plans

 

Q8. And on the ‘in-house’ Indirect Tax job market in the UK in the first 18 months post Brexit?

Q8

 

BLT comment – As for the in-house world, big upturn predicted in the need for both advisory and compliance specialists – fingers crossed that that rings true!

Brexit: Dear Agony Aunt….

Dear Agony Aunt

My name’s John. I’d like to think I’m a pretty normal Brit; I’ve got a decent job and I think I’ve done pretty well in life. I love my country and I’ve worked hard. I get on well with most people and people are used to consulting me when they need help. I like to think I’m pretty easy going – so long as have my sausages for breakfast and a pint of real ale in the evening, I’m generally fine.

But I’ve got myself in rather a lot of trouble at the moment and need some advice.

You see, I’ve been married to Marie for the last 46 years. She’s not from these parts but we’ve muddled along pretty well all this time. She can be a bit bossy occasionally, and sometimes I get annoyed that her large family keep coming to visit and then don’t leave. But we’ve got on ok over the years. We’ve been able to provide for our family and it’s been good making friends with her extended family network – it’s certainly broadened my horizons learning about different cultures. To be fair too, the cousins work hard and help out with stuff that I can’t get my side of the family to do. (My side of the family tend to be a bit lazy). The cousins tend to gang up on me when it comes to Eurovision, but it’s all good-hearted fun.

One day a couple of years back, this bloke Nigel that I vaguely knew from down the pub started to tell me that I could do better. That I should ‘man up’ and take more control of my life. After a few pints, I got confused and without thinking of the consequences made a drunken call to Marie to tell her that it was over. I was leaving her. Call it a midlife crisis, call it a cry for help, I’d made that call under the influence, and I couldn’t take it back.

The kids were up in arms of course. The eldest James (who’s a bit left wing and likes to be known as Jock when he’s feeling militant) is keen for us to stay together and is distinctly grumpy about the whole thing and keeps threatening to never speak to me again. Gladys tends to keep her opinions to herself but has been known to butt in at the worst possible time. We don’t tend to listen to her much. It’s the youngest that the biggest headache; we fought really hard to have Paddy and he needs a lot of looking after. Marie wants access rights to Paddy but I can’t figure out a way to make it work.

The lawyers were pretty quick to get going of course. I’ve got Mrs June working for me, who’s a bit stern and humourless, but to be fair she’s been trying to make the best of a bad job. It sounds like she’s been having a tough time of it at work; her colleagues in the city don’t like her and seem to want to undermine her at every juncture for their own personal benefit. I’ve no idea whether the deal that she was trying to strike with Marie was a good one or not, but it’s all a bit of a mess and I don’t think she can now act in my best interests. I’m thinking of sacking her whole firm, but then as far as I can tell, Mr Fisher’s company round the corner is the only other feasible option, and he’s a bit of an idiot. If only we could do without lawyers.

It’s even got to the stage where I’m thinking about calling Marie to apologise and see if she’d have me back. I know her though – she’s proud and probably won’t want me. Even if she had me back, the trust is gone – she’ll keep things from me and will always be worrying about the next time I go down the pub. I really think that ship has sailed and it’s too late.

I’m really worried about being lonely and paying the bills. I think I need a new partner, but the dating game is hard these days. Donna’s meant to be a good catch, but I don’t trust her mental state these days, and she keeps on talking about walls and barriers. Jia Ling is very attractive, but I can’t read her. Kylie’s just laughing at me. I could look further afield of course, but it all looks a bit explosive and probably more hassle than its worth. I’m in conversations with Hans Christian but he’s very liberal round there and it would all be very different to what I’ve experienced before.

As you can see I’m in a mess and need all the help I can get. Any advice as to the way forward gratefully received.

If like John, you could also do with some advice, then do get in touch with us at BLT  (team@blt.co.uk). We won’t be able to come with a miracle Brexit solution, but I’m sure we’ll be able to give you some options to help your future Indirect Tax or Management Consultancy career.

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