Flexible and Secure Analysis Tool for Tax Experts

November 17, 2008 by Peter Schiwek, Solution Manager in the Solution Management suite of SAP AG

With the tax audit function, SAP is meeting the increasing need of companies to manage, analyze, and actively control their accounting and sales tax data online and integrated in the existing SAP environment.

In the past, fee-based offline solutions of third-party suppliers dominated this area. SAP new alternative is already being used to the satisfaction of customers: “Using the SAP tax audit function, every responsible general ledger accountant can penetrate the ‘tax jungle’ and actively drive constructive risk management,” says Horst Wohlgemuth, tax manager at HeidelbergCement AG.

Ease of use through standards

Electronic data analysis using ACL and IDEA

ACL and IDEA are software solutions for analyzing large data volumes. They are used by financial administrations, external auditors, tax consultants and companies. The ACL audit software is developed by the Canadian company ACL Services Ltd. IDEA is a product of CaseWare International Inc.

SAP has developed the analysis tool together with tax specialists. It is a standard function of SAP Audit Information System (AIS) and is integrated in the SAP ERP application. All the data is stored in the original system so that authorized users can work with the tax audit function straight away.

A decisive advantage: SAP users can work with the tool in a familiar environment, and selected data can be transferred to individual PCs using an export function. In addition, the standardized data format of the AIS allows the audit tools ACL or IDEA to be used to further process the data.

The SAP Audit Information System (AIS) takes a new methodical approach to auditing, designed to improve the process and quality of audits. Consisting of the audit report tree, AIS collects, structures, and configures SAP standard software.

A further plus: Modifications or enhancements to the SAP tax audit tool are relatively easy thanks to the programming technology used (via ABAP Query).

Clear overview of data

A total of 18 predefined views on the dataset are available online, providing a clear overview of even large volumes of data. Furthermore, companies can define and adapt their own views. The required data is selected using logical databases based on current SAP files and data descriptions (ABAP Dictionary). All data is protected throughout the entire data processing operation by the trusted SAP authorization concept.

Secure risk management

The data to be evaluated is part of productive accounting. It is therefore subject to the reconciliation and control functions of a financial statement. The evaluation is also performed online and uses available standards, such as List Viewer (ALV), which sorts, filters, and totals the table data.

The tool can switch from compressed data to individual documents and, from there, to the related data of the entire business process. It is also possible to link to unstructured data.

All the data entered in the accounting system is checked to ensure that taxes on sales and purchases have been recognized correctly. Errors or irregularities are spotted and reported immediately and can be rectified, if necessary. “Through the clever combination of software, data is compiled from a database perspective that allows the plausibility of the tax-relevant data to be checked within a manageable time frame. As a result, tax-related risks can be identified and eliminated in good time”, says Wohlgemuth.

Immediate advantages for companies

Even before a business audit takes place, companies achieve the highest degree of security possible. They save a considerable amount of tax because business transactions are assigned to the appropriate accounts.

Sophisticated analysis tool: Using the SAP tax audit function

  • data is processed online
  • existing standards are used
  • the data is always in the original system
  • company-specific configurations can be made, if required
  • lengthy training periods are avoided due to the familiarity of the working environment
  • the SAP data description and file description are used as a working basis
  • irregularities are reported automatically
  • no additional license fees are incurred.

Tax audit for SAP users

The analysis tool was delivered to all SAP customers at the beginning of 2008 using the Change and Transport System. The feedback to date provides the basis for the enhancements and modifications that SAP is presently incorporating in the evaluation. An updated software version will be delivered to all SAP customers as part of the standard maintenance cycle.

The documentation on the SAP tax audit tool is also a user guide. The corresponding PowerPoint document and a Word document are available on the SAP Service Marketplace (http://service.sap.com/erp => SAP ERP Financials => SAP Corporate Governance => Tax Audit => Media Library).

The current German-language version of the tax audit function can be imported as a preliminary installation for SAP ERP releases as of 4.6C (see SAP Note 1091606).

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