PwC tax manager Iobhar Finn talks about moving to San Francisco to help build a brand-new VAT team before returning to Ireland.
When you work in a company that has offices all over the world, there can be great opportunities to relocate and gain new experiences.
This was exactly what PwC’s Iobhar Finn did. Having started at the professional services firm straight out of college in September 2015, he joined the VAT department in the foreign direct investment sector.
As an established team, Finn worked with approximately 50 people and a strong client base. A few years later, an opportunity to move over to San Francisco presented itself and Finn headed stateside in January 2020.
“PwC US was setting up a VAT practice on the west coast, there was already one in New York and Chicago, but they just hired in a new partner. I was given the opportunity to work with him in terms of building up the PwC US VAT practice on the west.”
Finn said it was a very different experience going from an established team and set of clients to working with just one partner and no clients in a country that doesn’t have VAT. Couple that challenge with the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic arrived shortly after he started his new job, putting a halt to any plans to have in-person meetings.
“The first couple of months were very much meeting local PwC tax partners, figuring out which clients they worked with, which one of those clients had international indirect tax footprints, which ones we could help with,” he told SiliconRepublic.com.
“That was quite new to me but very exciting. We were building up a business, building up a book of clients.”
Finn said the team became quite successful in landing a number of clients and growing the team to six people. But home was calling, especially with the pandemic restrictions, and so he returned to Ireland 18 months later.
How working in tax has changed
While Finn’s experience of working in tax was understandably different between Ireland and the US, he said the sector as a whole has changed “pretty drastically” in the time that he has been working in it.
“The growth of the digital economy has really changed the indirect tax landscape around the world and I think that’s only been accelerated by the pandemic, moving businesses online,” he said.
“Every other day now, we’re seeing countries come online with new indirect tax rules, taxing non-resident suppliers of digital services, introducing rules to make a marketplace or intermediary liable for the taxes of underlying sellers, bringing in rules for electronic invoicing, e-reporting [and] real-time reporting.”
For anyone looking to enter the tax world, Finn said it’s very important to stay on top of global indirect tax developments. “I don’t think it’s enough any more just to be an Irish specialist or a specialist even in the EU,” he said.
“The clients that we deal with here in PwC Ireland, they sell to customers all over the world and the indirect tax considerations in those countries are changing every day and so we really need to be on top of global changes and global indirect tax considerations which might impact our clients.”
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