Ashland maximizes VAT reporting efficiency with Sovos

Case Study

Ashland

Ashland gained standardization, efficiency, accuracy and tailored service in 40 VAT regimes and two shared services centers by turning to Sovos VAT Reporting.

Summary

Business Challenges

  • Processing 40 VAT returns in EMEA, plus reports, each month, Ashland’s approach to compliance was centralized but not standardized, making compliance time-consuming and error prone.
  • The company turned to two shared service centers, and needed a VAT solution to standardize compliance and improve efficiency.

Solution

  • Ashland implemented Sovos’ VAT Reporting solution to address these challenges and provide customized support.
  • Ashland has since also implemented Sovos SAF-T and Spain SII solutions to maintain a centralized, efficient compliance process.

Results

  • With Sovos, Ashland realized standardization, efficiency and accuracy, allowing its team to focus on analysis and process improvements.
  • The time needed to prepare a VAT return decreased by an average of 30%-50%.
  • Ashland maintains constant compliance in the countries in which it operates.

The Company

Ashland Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ASH) is a premier global specialty chemicals company serving customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including adhesives, architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical. Ashland employs approximately 6,500 passionate, tenacious solvers – from renowned scientists and research chemists to talented engineers and plant operators – who thrive on developing practical, innovative and elegant solutions to complex problems for customers in more than 100 countries.

The Challenge

With 40 VAT registrations throughout EMEA and two shared services centers in different locations, Ashland’s approach to VAT returns and reporting was not standardized. Each accountant had an individualized approach to reconciliations and report preparation, making it difficult to review and validate returns in an efficient manner. Without a standardized process, VAT compliance was a time-consuming initiative.

The Solution

Processing 40 VAT returns per month in EMEA, in addition to other VAT reporting, Ashland decided to move its VAT compliance processes to two shared service centers – one in Poland and one in India. With this centralization, the company needed a single tool that would not only
generate returns in each country, but also enable standardization and accuracy.

“Without good software, it would be impossible to adjust to the quickly changing VAT reporting obligations. We would not be able to meet these new regulations on time without Sovos.”

Anna Buchnowska

EMEA VAT manager, Ashland

The Benefits

Ashland cites several advantages from standardization resulting from Sovos VAT Reporting solution implementation, particularly in terms of efficiency and accuracy. VAT processes, including preparation, reconciliation and generation of reports, are now more efficient. This leaves more time for the tax team to focus on real analysis instead of answering to auditors and managing the technical aspects of compliance (e.g., data gathering, excel tables, etc.). This also makes reports easier for the VAT manager to review and control.

VAT reports are automated, improving accuracy by reducing human errors, enabling review of several transaction at once and self-auditing before reports are submitted. Sovos also allows Ashland to quickly adjust to new and expanding VAT reporting obligations, like SAF-T.

On the corporate end, Ashland has realized efficiencies and cost-cutting, allowing the company to maintain and continuously improve its level of compliance.

The Results

Despite growing complexities in the EMEA compliance landscape and an ever-expanding number of reporting requirements, Ashland is able to manage VAT reporting with the same number of staff members as it did prior to implementing Sovos – and do so more efficiently. The time needed to prepare a VAT return decreased by an average of 30%-50% with the implementation of Sovos, allowing the VAT team to focus more on improving verifications, control processes and conduct analysis. Since implementing Sovos, Ashland is able to identify any problems before reporting and manage audits very quickly, mitigating the risk of penalties with clear, accessible and verified data.

Why Sovos?

As Ashland considered options for VAT compliance, it looked at consulting firms in addition to technology providers. With Sovos, Ashland got the standardization and accuracy it required. As it was determining its VAT solutions partner, though, the decision was not simply driven by technology. The company placed an emphasis on service as well. Ashland ultimately selected Sovos because tax leaders were convinced they would get strong, tailor-made service, much more so than traditional consulting models.

Since initially selecting Sovos for its VAT reporting solution, Ashland has expanded its relationship to include compliance with Spain’s SII requirements as well. A natural fit for emerging compliance requirements around the globe, Ashland benefits from using Sovos to maintain one compliance solution.