Businesses with international operations have plenty of duties and responsibilities to juggle, which makes the prospect of outsourcing certain functions a very enticing one. Smaller entities, for example, won’t have in-house departments for specific financial services such as the managing of value-added taxation. To make sure everything is done according to the letter of the law, you might want to get assistance from a VAT consultant.
So how do you go about evaluating a potential list of candidates?
Services offered by a VAT consultant
Firstly, it’s important to note that we’re referring to both individuals and organisations when using the term VAT consultant since there’s the possibility of a single professional being able to handle the collective workload the tax brings.
The most crucial factor when recruiting an expert is the range of services they offer. Depending on the expert, the list of services will change, so it’s important to keep an eye out for the most fundamental requirements they ought to fulfil.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what you should expect a VAT consultant to handle.
- Provide help with value-added tax registration
- Ensure business operations comply with the regulations
- Prepare and file VAT returns
- Manage objections and tax disputes
- Analyse the impact of the tax on the business and offer strategic guidance
These are some of the more basic services that should be offered, so the absence of one or a few of these items should be a red flag.
Of course, you can always work with a professional or firm to handle just one aspect of value-added taxes, such as registration, but a one-stop shop becomes more valuable as a business grows and expands. Once you build a sense of trust with your VAT consultant, it’s easier and more cost-effective to manage all tax queries at one location.
Other service offerings
In other instances, your firm might require assistance on issues unrelated to taxation, such as mergers and acquisitions or audits and risk management. Value-added taxes might be one component of what needs to be addressed, making a firm with a more diverse array of services more appealing.
Most firms these days, both large and small, tend to have some level of global activity. As a result, a tax advisor of any kind should have a firm grasp of the regulatory frameworks of other nations. Our Rules Map reveals how complex and distinct the laws are from one place to the next, so a VAT consultant should be able to work through these geographic differences.
This factor is directly tied to the preceding one. If a business has an international focus, dealing with clients and customers in different languages is almost inevitable. Make sure your VAT consultant has experts that can grasp several languages if your business activity is spread across nations. You never know when speaking French, Spanish or German will come handy.
A technology-friendly problem solver
The commercial landscape is becoming digitised at a rapid pace, so finding assistance from a tech-literate professional is of increasing importance. Given the digitisation process, problems must also be resolved promptly, if not immediately. A professional who is well-versed with technology will be able to create time and money efficiencies to help your business in an international environment with unique challenges.
Qualifications and experience
This item should probably be higher up the list since any VAT consultant should have the necessary knowledge and credentials to gain any client’s attention.
Here are some questions you should keep in mind when making an assessment.
- How long has the individual or organisation been in consultancy? A longer time frame indicates that they’ve outlasted the competition and are in a stable position.
- Who are their other clients? Most websites will display the clients a firm has handled. You can use these testimonials as evidence of their experience handling businesses of various industries and sizes.
- Are they licensed? This one goes without saying, but if you’re reaching out to an individual VAT consultant, it may be more important than you think. You need to be sure your potential candidate is well-versed with laws and processes of relevance to your organisation. Do they have basic chartered accounting qualifications? Do they have diplomas validating experience with tax compliance in foreign nations? Organisations such as the Association of Tax Technicians offer credentials in the UK, so keep a look out for your country’s appropriate standards.
- Are they well-connected? A professional with an extensive network of people will be extremely helpful when it comes to solving local and specific-case problems. One of the best methods to evaluate this is through a review of their LinkedIn profile.
It’s essential that you run through this checklist before diving in with a VAT consultant because your business’ financial success and legal status depend on it. In some cases, though, you might be able to offload the complicated mess that is value-added taxation to a software like VAT4U. We offer an automated online value-added tax recovery platform that takes most of the work out of your hands. Check how the service works here and try it out for free.