Corporate Minded | Summer 2018
How Young Professionals Should Approach Tax Reform
Now’s the time to expand your skills and advance your standing as a young professional in the corporate finance world.
Amanda L. Gavin, CPA, MBA
Manager, Global Tax & Trade, Caterpillar Inc.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a hot topic as corporations are trying to understand the impacts
to their businesses today and into the future. As senior staff members are busy analyzing
the new law, running forecasting models, and trying to determine how to navigate the
biggest tax code change in more than 30 years, many young professionals are being left
on the sidelines asking how they can get in on the action.
Tax reform has presented young professionals with a great opportunity to advance their
skills and standing in the corporate world — if they get in on the conversation. Here’s how.
EXPAND YOUR INSIGHT
No matter which accounting group you sit in at your company — corporate accounting,
treasury, cost accounting, tax, etc. — it’s important to have a broad understanding of how
tax reform could affect the greater business. Opinions and interpretations of the new tax
laws are published seemingly daily to help us in the corporate world gain an understanding
of how to begin applying and preparing for them. But if you’re like many of us, it can be
difficult to navigate the landscape of articles and narrow your focus on what’s truly relevant.
I am learning that the best approach is to pick a few credible sources to follow. Good
resources could include publications from the Illinois CPA Society and other accounting,
law, and research firms specializing in your industry. To narrow your focus further (and
avoid receiving more emails then you would ever have time to read), ask a few senior
leaders within your organization which sources they find most helpful. You may also want
to consider setting aside time each week to watch webinars and read forums related to
your industry. Once you have a broad understanding of tax reform, consider narrowing
your focus to a topic that pertains to the area you work in.
REFINE YOUR FOCUS
It’s not always clear which topic is best or most relevant to focus on. Let’s face it, sometimes
we just don’t know what we don’t know. Have you considered engaging with others with
A good starting point is to ask your
company’s leaders which areas they would
like more information in. You should also
talk with colleagues in other departments
and peers working in similar fields to find
out which areas they’re focusing on.
Once you identify different areas of
importance, focus on an area that’s not only
of interest to you but is one your company
needs a better understanding of. A natural
interest in a relevant area will make your
research efforts easier and help you stand
out as a growing professional in that area.
Some of the trending topics within
corporations include the foreign-derived
intangible income calculation, transition
tax, like-kind exchanges, depreciation and
the new full expensing rules, the global
intangible low tax income calculation, the
new limitation on deducting interest
expense, as well as many others.
SHOWCASE YOUR EXPERTISE
Once you’ve done your homework, you’re
set to showcase your analytical skills and
highlight your focus on the business.
I recommend gathering and analyzing
data and running specific scenarios that
could possibly impact your company. As a
young professional, don’t be afraid to
make mistakes. The point is for you to
show your interest in learning and
improving the business.
Consider approaching the conversation with
your superiors by starting with the area you
chose to focus on, discussing the data points
you put together, and asking what else
you should consider. Then, and most
importantly, go back with your updates and
show your leaders how you implemented
the changes they recommended. And
always continue to ask the question,
The corporate world is in a heavy learning
mode right now due to all the implications
from tax reform. There has never been a
better time for young professionals to get
involved and be a part of the conversation.
With a large array of topics to focus
on, guidance being released regularly, and
more promised regulations on the
horizon, it’s time to find an area that
interests you, expand your insight, and
showcase your talents to succeed in the
corporate finance world.