6 Must-Have Skills for the Successful and Proactive VAT Manager

The Blue dot Team

Managing indirect tax and VAT for a global organisation? Kudos, you definitely don’t shy away from a challenge! You’ve taken on a role that is perpetually evolving and demands the skills and mindset needed to adapt to the frequency and variety of changing tax requirements and regulations.

The pace of that change only accelerated further in recent years with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated societal changes such as hybrid work and work from home (WFH). These realities have turned the way tax and accounting teams manage employee-driven spend quite literally on its head – with the rapid growth of consumer-style purchasing and spend channels such as P-cards (purchasing cards) and corporate cards. 

That’s one transformation already weighing heavily on companies’ internal tax processes over their employee expenditures. Combine this with the massive digital transformation re-shaping external compliance, mandatory e-invoicing coming in 2024, and the EU’s upcoming VAT in the Digital Age (ViDA) requirements, these changes have a huge impact on the role and responsibilities of the in-house company tax manager.

As a VAT Manager, your role is critical in ensuring compliance, optimising cash flow, and strategically leveraging VAT opportunities to enhance the organisation’s financial bottom line.

The most prevalent challenges you need to navigate through are:

  • Figuring out an effective process to manage VAT deadlines and submissions
  • Standardizing VAT processes and enforcing compliance
  • Owning VAT governance and policy implementation
  • Adapting to changing VAT auditing and compliance standards
  • Maximising VAT recovery 
  • Identifying and optimising VAT-related cost savings


Of course, a VAT Manager’s role can vary greatly based on national and local laws and customs. A successful tax manager is proactive: they come to the table with a plan and help the business to be more efficient. The goal of the modern tax manager is to stay ahead of the game and implement efficient and seamless tax processes for the business.

In light of all these challenges, how can indirect tax and VAT managers not only keep up with these changing realities but proactively position themselves to excel? To do that, they’ll need these six indispensable skills:

1. Maintain Credibility as a VAT Manager

Tax laws are never static, and if you are working in a global company, you need to be aware of the major tax trends making headlines around the world. Keep up on your required seminars and webinars to be aware of best practices working effectively for your peers in the industry. Have a few good sources for news on new tax laws and regulations to ensure you keep up-to-date about indirect taxation and VAT developments in the jurisdictions where your company does business. Your goal is to be seen as a source of tax knowledge in your company – lead by example. Finally, ensure that your accounting skills are up to date.

2. Demonstrate Excellent Tax Management Problem-solving Skills

The best problems are considered ahead of time, prepared for, and solved before they appear. Especially when dealing with the variety and complexity of indirect tax and VAT regulations, the proactive approach is always the best. Even if you plan for every detail, surprises and new challenges are inevitable parts of the job for a VAT manager. 

But this is precisely your moment to show your skill set and turn tax challenges into an opportunity for your company! Be prepared to call for a “cabinet meeting” of your tax and finance team when a formidable, new challenge arises. Rather than starting the discussion about “How do we manage the problem”, “How can we turn this challenge into an opportunity?” not only can set the right tone for your colleagues but may spark a more positive and forward-thinking discussion. Encourage input and collaboration from everyone, and keep focused on the goal. 

A good VAT manager ensures the meeting ends with actionable items for them and their team to execute. Always come to meetings with this in mind – “What are we here to resolve and who takes the lead afterwards?”

3. Be Seen as the Company VAT Expert

Are you passionate about everything under the sun related to taxes? Do you have bookmarks on your web browser for your favourite tax blogs and news sites? Do you regularly share your knowledge with peers – within the tax and finance department and throughout the business?

Spread the word that smarter and better processes lead to stronger tax compliance and add efficiency and productivity to the business. When you present your work to the board and other intra-company forums, be assertive and insightful. Data speaks loudest here – having detailed analytics and breakdowns on your company’s invoices and VAT reclaims, pending submissions and disqualified claims will ensure the CFO and board are made aware of how thoroughly you are managing your VAT posting and see your team’s efficiency and productivity gains.

4. Stay on Top of Future Tax Technology Trends

Taxes have come a long way since the days of ledger paper that accountants and CPAs used to use! Along came the spreadsheet and quickly replaced ledger paper with tools such as Microsoft Excel. Today, spreadsheets are used beyond taxes and accounting – for keeping track of anything. But as digitalisation continues to transform the needs of both tax authorities and businesses, data integrity and control have become table stakes. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have made possible advances in many fields and industries and VAT compliance is no different. Today, these technologies are starting to find their way into the already complex world of taxes. Dive into the realm of tax technology and learn about the latest breakthroughs and how they can help you make each step of your VAT process more efficient.

Innovate! Once you’ve brushed up on the latest tax technology news and trends, ask yourself this question…

5. What Manual and Cumbersome Tax Processes Can Be Automated? 

When you find tax tech that can help your business, create a plan. Get your team involved. Use your communication skills to amplify awareness, and clear the path for innovation. Consider these possible low-hanging fruits:

  • Unclaimed VAT due to employee-driven spend
  • Top reasons behind your disqualified domestic and foreign VAT claims
  • How effective is your team able to stay ahead of VAT taxation rules across countries and expense types?

Implementing the right tax tech can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your VAT reporting, potentially saving your business millions of dollars/Euros every year and leading to better tax compliance.

6. Better Communication Skills Make a Difference for VAT Managers

You may be the best VAT manager in the world, but if you don’t have excellent communication skills, no one will know of the magic you are doing for your company. The first step to effective good communication as a VAT manager is:

Know your stakeholders

Consider who your work matters to the most. Is it R&D (not likely) or the Finance Department? Ensuring you address their key priorities and demonstrate how you can help optimise the processes required to achieve them will go a long way in aligning strategy and gaining buy-in for your plan and next steps. 

Maintain a VAT Manager’s presentation

Presentations are often far more effective in conveying your strategy and plan and generating engagement. You can change and modify your presentation as you implement new tax compliance processes and systems and keep it up-to-date with the latest data. This way, you are always ready to communicate what you and your team are doing for the business.

Make use of AI-powered tax technology to stay ahead of compliance

Digitalisation is ubiquitous and dramatically affecting the role of VAT managers. Every two years, data is doubling. By 2025, more than 150 trillion gigabytes of data will need analysis.

Tax authorities are more revenue-driven than ever and increasingly implement digitalised tools that analyse companies’ processes with unprecedented scrutiny. They demand a full digital audit trail demonstrating compliance. Many enterprises today are struggling to keep pace and don’t have the solution to match these demands.

Technology that can bring your tax team’s capabilities in line with not only the new VAT reporting standards of today but provides the foundation for years ahead is vital to enabling your company to generate and data you’ll be expected to provide and ensure you are compliance and audit ready.

How VAT Managers Can Excel with Blue dot’s World Leading Tax Recovery Platform   

Blue dot is the only truly centralised, audit-ready platform built to solve the challenges of tax compliance and future-proof financial business processes for global enterprises. Combining advanced AI and machine learning with deep tax expertise, Blue dot’s VATBox solution ensures data integrity and control for enterprises. This enables VAT managers and their teams to swiftly and precisely analyse each and every invoice and receipt for eligible VAT refund – small or large – in line with your company policy and updated taxation rules per country. With a centralised and digitalised VAT reporting process end-to-end, VAT managers have the solution in place to recover 100% of their eligible VAT, minimise compliance risks and capitalise on significant cost-saving opportunities.

Learn more about digitalized compliance automation for modern employee spend

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