insight magazine

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.


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.


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 more experience?

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.


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, “What else?”

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.

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