The Tax LoS includes two distinct sub LoS or departments: tax services and company administration services. The Tax Service LoS provides direct tax services to companies and individuals including withholding tax management and indirect tax products such as VAT and Customs & Excise Duty. The Tax service sub LoS also provide tax compliance assessments, tax planning advise, tax health checks/audits, client representation and negotiations for and on behalf of our clients in both direct and indirect taxes. The other sub LoS – company administration provide consulting services such as company secretarial services; Immigration services; Share registrar services; Start-up advisory services; Act as local managers and process agents to external companies; Registration of corporate bodies; and Advising on corporate compliance matters among others. The Tax LoS serves clients from various industries.
In view of the diversity of service offerings in the Tax LoS, the approach to each assignment may be very different from the other though across industries and clientele, there will be similarities. Unlike the Assurance LoS, where Standards guide their approach to each project, the Tax LoS is guided largely by Tax laws and regulations applicable within the jurisdiction of operations of the client at any point in time. The laws and regulations give guidance, boundaries and used as basis for output of work rather than procedures to be followed in planning, executing or completing the consultancy project. Projects within the Tax LoS are therefore classified into ‘structured’ and ‘unstructured’. The ‘structured’ are considered less complex or simple projects, where the firm and team have extensive experience executing similar projects, even if they were in other industries. In such projects, the approach is likely to follow written or unwritten procedures applied successfully to similar projects, with some modifications. On the other hand, ‘unstructured projects’ are those that are considered more complex because no similar assignment has been done in the past; the scope is big and not very clear; the project value is big and skills set needed is multi-disciplinary involving staff from different LoS, backgrounds and even countries. For unstructured projects, extensive planning is done to understand the work that needs to be done and be assured that PwC is in a position to provide quality service to the client. However, execution tasks may not be planned to a very low level of detail since that may not be known fully. The detailed tasks rather evolve in the course of executing the project. Such assignments therefore involve very experienced teams for execution, unlike structured projects where the bar of experienced may be lowered since the tasks have been tried, tested and proven. Generally, most Tax projects are not structured but the structure evolves in a formal or informal manner as similar projects are executed over time.
Teams for Tax LoS projects are mobilised after senior members of the sub LoS involved meet to match assignment scope and skills set to staff. This may involve drawing on the skills and expertise of staff in other LoS. It must be noted that the structure of teams largely take the same form as assurance LoS shown in Table 4.1 above. However, in view of the high level of expertise needed for most unstructured projects, persons who usually would be a Project Manager can be used as a field team leader and the roles cascade down accordingly. For structured projects teams are assigned from the beginning and may stay the same throughout the project life cycle. However, teams for unstructured projects are changed anytime during the project when it is deemed necessary – as and when different expertise are needed. Unlike structured projects, unstructured projects team meetings are more often and may not have any particular format. Any team member can call for a team meeting, which may be done either formally or informally depending on the issues to be discussed.
The role of project leadership is similar to assurance LoS except that Project Managers are very much involved to the extent of day-to-day work where the projects are unstructured. More so, Engagement Leaders perform more periodic reviews for unstructured projects to ensure that the team is on course to achieve agreed objectives and within scope. The EL also communicates more with client management to ensure that the field team’s work is in line with their expectations.
Clients’ involvement in structured projects is similar to assurance projects, where they are regarded as information providers during planning and execution before giving their consent to reports at completion. Clients for unstructured projects, on the other hand, take a deeper dive into the project. During the planning stage, clients are involved in various meetings and research to help define the scope. The clients may then become information providers during the execution stage but will still be in constant communication with team members to ensure the objectives are being achieved and the scope has not shifted. The completion stage demands that the report is discussed with the client to ensure that the client’s expectations have been met. There is always room to do a bit more where client expectations have not been met but any extra time input is discussed and charged accordingly.