Donald Maher is an accomplished and dedicated Tax, Treasury, and Finance Executive with extensive global and domestic experience in the tax aspects of a variety of different subject matters ranging from joint ventures, acquisitions & divestitures to global contracts and cross-border transactions, including the design and implementation of tax efficient supply chain planning. He has a proven record of being a strategic thought leader who is a creative, practical problem solver with thorough execution and the ability to build relationships with business leaders. In his current role as Mohawk's Vice President of Taxes, he is responsible for leading a global tax function with responsibility for the Company's global income tax matters, including tax accounting, tax planning, tax compliance, tax audits, and tax-related controls.

What are some of the trends impacting the tax industry today?

People in the tax industry frequently make the statement that they are expected to increase their productivity while simultaneously decreasing their budget. There is also a pressure to reduce staff and cut down on the amount of time it takes. Moreover, typically most tax departments only have two levers, headcount and consulting. So, one either has the option of carrying out a task by oneself or delegating it to another person to complete on their behalf. Therefore, in a world in which there is continuous pressure to accomplish more with fewer resources, technology definitely helps to bridge that gap and also helps the department to accomplish more with the same number of resources.

Using technology, we're always trying to improve our process and make sure that we're using data well and manipulating information as quickly as possible. So that we can be sure and have control over how information is used and put on a tax return and also help our business leaders make the right decisions. So, using technology will helps us all do our jobs better, faster, and more efficiently in the long run.

 What are some of the challenges impacting the tax industry today?

The biggest challenge that we face in the tax world with technology is getting everybody's attention. In general, a company looks at the tax department in two ways. It is either seen as a cost center or a value driver. Companies that view tax as a cost tend to give it minimal leeway and budget because they are constantly seeking to reduce expenses. And companies that view taxes as a value driver focus on the return that a well-structured tax department will give to the organization as a whole. Therefore, it is always good to work for a company that views tax as a cost because unless you're attempting to deploy technology that helps you comply with the law or meet all compliance standards, you won't receive much attention from your IT department, CIO, or CFO.

“People in the tax industry frequently make the statement that they are expected to increase their productivity while simultaneously decreasing their budget”

These are the types of businesses that are more likely to make a commitment to supporting a global tax department through the use of technology because they consider a return on investment. Moreover, this enables you to manage all of these risks, the primary hazards about which we all worry in the tax department. Such as handling the scheduling and resource management of resource restrictions for information roles. It also assists you in safeguarding future investments so that you can keep up with software updates.

What are some of the essential elements that each tax department needs to have?

In most of the tax departments, we focus on five key workstreams— compliance, provision planning, merger and acquisitions, and finally, audits and controversy. Each of these work streams presents unique difficulties that can be helped or hindered by automation. For instance, compliance encompasses not just state and local compliance but also federal compliance, in addition to property tax compliance, sales and use tax compliance and other types of tax compliance. And each of these distinct spheres necessitates a certain kind of technological advancement in order to become more automated and productive. So whether we are using the Vertex software package for sales tax or using an Ultrax model for state apportionment, it is important to know how more quickly and accurately we can obtain information and put it on a piece of paper.

What would be your piece of advice for budding professionals in the field?

It is important for leaders to consider tax as a partner to finance, similar to how the majority of people view their CFO as a partner to the business. Tax is a service that exists to serve a business, so in order to run a successful business, we must understand how taxes affect the Company at the end of the day. Therefore, while incentives are what they are, a well-run firm should examine its after-tax return, not its before-tax return. If executives keep this in mind, I believe they will give tax the priority and resources it needs to be effective in a well-run organization.