Indirect tax services

Getting ahead of the indirect tax challenge

The growing weight of indirect taxation is heightening the operational and compliance challenges faced by already stretched tax teams.

Changes can come frequently and can be confusing. International trade is growing in complexity and there’s a greater focus on indirect taxation in an increasingly digitised global economy.

Your organisation may be asking “what does this mean for our business?”, “how can we stay ahead of implementation?” and “how can we be sure we’re fully compliant?”. At PwC, we understand this fast-evolving environment and can draw on our experience of developing tailored solutions to help you meet these challenges and address these concerns.

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Managing global indirect tax in a dynamic and changing

Navigate the complexity of global indirect tax by bringing together digitisation, compliance and policy to transform and future-proof your indirect tax function.

The direction tax is taking

Indirect taxes - including VAT/GST/Sales tax, property tax, customs and excise duties, and environmental tax - are becoming more prominent and demanding worldwide. Governments are increasingly looking at Indirect tax as a source of revenue and overhauling how it’s reported and collected - with real-time reporting and e-invoicing high on the agenda to improve compliance and reduce fraud.

International trade and e-commerce has turned the world into a global village - highly interconnected with physical and virtual worlds merging - making indirect taxes particularly relevant for all cross-border businesses. In this fast growing arena, there is growing public pressure on governments to increase the business tax take, with intense focus on the companies at the forefront of the digital economy.

While the international tax framework for both direct and indirect taxes is evolving as a result, the swift pace and complexity of changes affecting indirect tax world are unparalleled and increasingly difficult to manage.

All businesses now have greater responsibility for indirect tax governance. And with tax authorities digitising compliance and harnessing technology to sharpen their focus and audit interventions, it's now more important than ever to ensure that your indirect tax processes are up-to-date and reliable. 

Direction tax is taking

Indirect tax hot topics

Navigate through trade disruption

From Brexit to tariff hikes, we can help you stay on track.

Globally, trade disputes are on the rise. Some of these may lead to significant increases in duty exposure for importers – including trade friction between the US and China, the impending Brexit, and other protectionist measures in countries like Brazil, India and Turkey. This is potentially disruptive - and costly - for anyone who has an international business.

Coupled with this, the requirements imposed for transfer pricing documentation are becoming increasingly detailed.

Our team can guide you through the solutions and techniques to mitigate duty exposure, and make sure you’re fully equipped to handle the extra compliance and documentation requirements for international trade.

We can help you find the right technology solution to avoid the many disruptive challenges. We can advise on, and implement technology solutions to help you:

  • Reduce compliance risk
  • Support your customs planning
    • customs classification
    • use of preferential origin
    • data analytics to uncover and disclose historical errors
    • design and test processes and controls
    • create customs declarations from ERP-based data.

Sharpen your compliance

From e-invoicing and real-time reporting to harnessing the game changing potential of innovations like blockchain, technology is both a driver and enabler of change. How can your business get out in front?

The move by tax authorities to live and transactional reporting is making it harder to keep on top of regulatory and reporting requirements in an efficient way. Companies are finding it a challenge to meet the technical and technology submission requirements in time to be ready for all the changes globally. Also, the quick submission times (daily in some cases) means organisations need to make sure they’re submitting good quality data. Reducing the manual effort to get the right information in real-time is a key priority for businesses.

We can work with you to manage these issues by supporting you with:

  • Data quality – providing ongoing or one-off data analytics technology
  • Process efficiencies - focusing controls on metrics that matter and using robotics to reduce effort and risk
  • Compliance technology to help with a standardised, automated global process and keeping reporting requirements up to date
    • to support your inhouse compliance process
    • as an outsource service

Resolve disputes, challenges and litigation

We’re seeing an increasing range of indirect tax disputes. How can you eliminate vulnerabilities and make sure you’re ready for investigation?

The tax authorities manage client disputes that cut across all industries - from finance, through to travel and manufacturing. Our global network of indirect tax disputes specialists will be by your side to help you manage disputes or potential disputes.

Our disputes specialists can assist you to resolve matters as quickly as possible, and without recourse to the courts if it can be avoided. We can help you in a number of areas including:

  • Self-investigation. Including general testing to assess you’re applying the correct indirect tax treatment, or where you suspect that there may be an issue. This can help you take action to avoid disputes, and gain maximum credit for being on the front foot with uncovering issues and acting promptly.
  • Working with tax authorities. Where a dispute over indirect tax has already arisen our indirect tax disputes specialists can help you manage the issue. We’ll work with you to resolve the dispute before it escalates and use all means of liaison, meetings and discussions to bring matters to a conclusion quickly.
  • Litigation. Many of our specialists are also litigators who can be there to advise and guide you should a dispute need the assistance of the court. As practising lawyers, many of our indirect tax dispute specialists are familiar with the courts both at domestic and European Union level.

Keep pace with the digitisation of the economy

The growth of e-commerce is having an impact on where and how your business can be liable for tax. How can you keep pace with the developments ahead?

The unprecedented pace and volume of change is putting businesses under heavy strain. This is heightened by the inconsistencies in the rules from country to country. For regulators around the world, indirect taxes are a key focus and so change can be expected to continue for some time.

There will soon be more than 100 countries with electronically supplied services (ESS or remote services). The next wave of change will introduce rules dealing with low-value imported goods in many countries, which will present significantly more challenges compared with e-services. A particular area of focus for regulators will be the obligations on digital platforms and marketplaces - which is both a developing and dynamic area where several countries are taking immediate unilateral action. Beyond that, regulators will also be looking at how governments can best handle the indirect tax challenges of the growing gig economy.

Our E-commerce indirect taxes team at PwC can help you navigate the complexities and change in this area. We work closely as a global network to give you the benefit of our deep technical knowledge and trusted relationships with regulators across the globe. We can also support your business with a range of technology solutions to help you:

  • Be ready for new and changing regulations
  • Manage new compliance obligations and global indirect taxes compliance
  • Assess supply chain changes
  • Data analytics and strategic planning.

Helping you to shape evolving policy

Indirect tax policy is evolving fast. Our team can help you to keep pace with developments, understand the implications for your business and lobby policymakers for workable frameworks.

The interplay between an increasingly globalised economy and constantly evolving technological innovation is having a significant impact on businesses, on governments and ultimately on tax systems. At the forefront of these developments are VAT/GST, which have grown rapidly as a proportion of the overall tax take in recent decades and now exceed corporate tax revenue. The pressure to increase the business tax take is making VAT/GST more challenging for policymakers, as is the need to keep pace with digitisation and rapidly developing commercial speed, intensity and flexibility.

And there is much more to come. The pace and scope of transformation of the indirect tax system show no signs of abating anytime soon. Businesses are feeling the strain from the growing number, variety and complexity of changes in the VAT/GST world. We can help you navigate through the changes ahead. We combine our global indirect tax technical and practical expertise with deep connections to the international indirect tax policy landscape across all industry sectors, and an extensive network of contacts in business, government and academia.

There has never been a more important time for businesses to make their voices heard. And there are more opportunities than ever before to get involved to make sure that all practical issues and problems are understood by policymakers. Our team of tax policy specialists is ready to use their knowledge and relationships to:

  • Support our clients, and governments, to help shape sound, growth-friendly future indirect tax policies. This includes working with international institutions to create global consensus, joining the dots between direct and indirect tax systems, and looking at international tax policy and its impact on business models.
  • Work alongside you to stay up to date with global indirect tax policy developments. And to help you become part of the conversation through the full policy cycle – from idea to implementation.
  • Work with policymakers to give them a better understanding of commercial and technological developments. So that national policy initiatives fit into the international tax framework.
  • Facilitate a productive dialogue between business and government, by establishing industry, regional or issue-related focus groups, and providing solutions based on global best practices.

Create value and get deal-ready

Indirect tax (including VAT and GST) is now in 150+ countries, so early and integrated indirect tax and customs strategy planning is essential for creating value in domestic and international deals.

The varied and changeable nature of indirect tax means that the smallest flaw in documentation or process - including customs duties levied on the movement of goods cross border - can have a significant above-the-line financial impact. This means indirect tax can quickly become a material consideration for deals involving international assets or entities.

Our team of Deals experts is here to help, with a wide range of services including:

  • Bespoke Deals advice
  • Indirect tax due diligence reviews, which involve looking at existing and potential indirect tax issues, compliance and risks for clients looking to sell or acquire businesses
  • Indirect tax structuring advice to help you operate your business in the most efficient manner
  • Indirect tax funds flow modelling to simulate models of future indirect tax liabilities for companies to help make informed economic decisions
  • Pre- and post-deal services, including assisting with pre-acquisition structuring and implementing indirect tax efficient strategies.

Our indirect tax deals team is truly global and can help facilitate transactions across different territories around the world. Collaboration between local PwC teams and our global network means we can tailor each deal or transaction and deliver a one-packaged solution that’s specific to your business.

  • Financial services 
  • Supply chain advice
  • Classification of product liabilities

Managing Indirect Taxes to the Financial Services industry

Indirect tax is not only a tax to the Financial Services (FS) industry, but a true cost. In our philosophy; Getting in control of your indirect tax position goes hand-in-hand with managing and optimizing your cost-base. 

More than 150 countries have implemented some sort of indirect tax system. This makes it an increasing global cost to the FS industry. Three trends in particular are making this more so: narrowing the applicability of exemptions; limiting the possibilities for indirect tax recovery; and rising indirect tax rates. 

Our truly global network of experts – each with a strong focus on indirect taxes for the FS industry – are ready to help you overcome the challenges. We can make it easier for FS businesses like yours to manage indirect tax positions, and navigate policy changes, new case-law and indirect tax reporting requirements. 

Our goal and ambition is to help you locally and globally, with the right experts with combined FS tax and industry knowledge, wherever you operate.

We’ll also help you stay up to date with relevant changes, through our news alerts, webcasts, conferences and other events and updates. 

How we can help

When it comes to indirect tax compliance, we can help you get your operations up to speed and reduce uncertainty. Our global expertise means we can deliver relevant technical insights, clear up the complexities, and provide you with a more informed basis for your decisions, wherever you are in the world.

The key to helping you create a successful indirect tax strategy is building a good relationship, so that we understand your whole organisation, where you do business and how you operate. That way, we can:

  • Help you reduce costs and risks, make your business more efficient, and turn tax opportunities into real results.
  • Understand the impact indirect tax has on your revenue and profits, based on where you operate. For example, if international trade is a key part of your business, we can help you understand the rules in place for your products in each country, and use indirect tax technology to become as tax efficient as possible.
  • Build on this understanding to make sure you have the right people, knowledge, technology, processes and controls for indirect tax governance, wherever you do business.
  • Stay on top of the latest policy trends and developments.
  • Support you to make your voice heard by the national and international indirect tax policy stakeholders. So you can play a part in shaping more effective law and more efficient administrative processes. 
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PwC’s new customs intermediary service

In response to the new trading landscape post 1 January 2021 and the customs declaration challenge facing businesses importing into the UK, PwC has launched a new customs intermediary service.

PwC’s Customs Intermediary Service  is designed to support organisations in completing and submitting accurate customs declarations including the calculation of any tax liabilities. It combines two service elements:

  • Customs Declaration Service (the new service); and
  • Customs Advisory Service (an existing team of customs experts within Tax).

For further details of the service, please visit our Customs Intermediary Service UK page.

If you intend to move goods to and from the UK, it's essential that they're classified in order to identify what duties and controls apply and ensure a correct customs declaration. Incorrect classification can lead to delays in clearing goods, overpayment of duty and possible penalties. Please visit our classification centre to learn more.

Indirect tax tools and resources


PwC's GlobalVATOnline is an online subscription service. It provides up-to-date business critical information on VAT/GST rates, rules and requirements around the world to help you maintain control, mitigate risk and improve the overall effectiveness of your VAT/GST function.

Register now

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PwC's indirect tax tool GlobalVATOnline

GlobalVATOnline is an online subscription service, which provides up-to-date business critical information and services to manage your VAT/GST rates, rules and requirements around the world. In a time when information is key and compliance is vital, GlobalVATOnline (GVO) is an essential tool to help navigate the

Contact us

Christoph Zenner

Christoph Zenner

Global Indirect Tax Leader, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 476 258538

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