Meet the Expert is our series of blogs where we share more about the team behind our innovative software and managed services.
As a global organisation with indirect tax experts across all regions, our dedicated team are often the first to know about new regulatory changes and the latest developments on tax regimes across the world, to support you in your tax compliance.
We spoke to Rahul Lawlor, Senior Compliance Services Representative – IPT, about his top compliance tips for large and small insurers.
Can you tell me about your role and what it involves?
I’m a senior compliance services representative – IPT at Sovos. I joined the company just over five years ago and in that time have dealt with insurers of all sizes, from multinationals to startups, domiciled in a plethora of different countries in the EU and beyond.
I oversee the compliance activities of a portfolio of insurers. As part of my team there are associates and representatives handling more of the day-to-day data, who I oversee to ensure everything’s on track. Queries from our customers are escalated to me and I also approve returns for customers as well as assisting with reports and annual requirements.
What are the differences and different IPT requirements of large and small insurers?
In terms of rules and regulations there is largely no difference in IPT requirements for large and small insurers, one exception could be in Hungary where the IPT rate applied is based on the volume of business.
I would say the main difference between large and small insurers is how they approach IPT compliance. Small insurers don’t tend to have dedicated tax teams – we tend to speak to finance departments who handle invoices and have also been tasked with IPT. When filing IPT in other countries outside their domicile, smaller insurers might not have the language or tax expertise required to file returns or register IPT. Whereas large insurers have specialised teams spanning the globe who deal with a variety of complex tax issues.
Small insurers tend to need more assistance, we help them through the IPT compliance process from start to finish, whereas larger insurers broadly understand IPT and often come to us with queries about more complicated IPT requirements.
What are your top IPT tips for small insurers?
Small insurers are often still using legacy systems that were designed before the IPT revolution when the requirements weren’t as extensive as they are now. This means that the information and data necessary for IPT submissions isn’t always being collected at source and on occasion we notice there are elements missing. This then requires going back to policyholders to retrieve the additional information, which can cause submission delays.
Not having the information required for IPT submissions can lead to some countries not accepting the risks and not accepting reports. The cost of non-compliance outweighs the cost of staying with a cheaper system. Setting up a new system might feel like a significant undertaking but in the long-term it provides benefits and minimises the risk of reputational damage associated with not filing risks on behalf of policyholders.
My top tip for small insurers is to educate themselves on IPT, especially if they are writing risks in countries where the tax points aren’t uniform and could pose issues for their systems. The tax point is the date which triggers the tax but it can vary – often it’s cash received, but in can be issuance, written date, maturity date (the list goes on).
Always allow plenty of time ahead of filing and reporting deadlines, especially when entering new markets. We’ve helped many insurers with registration and IPT requirements to avoid any surprises.
What are your top IPT tips for large insurers?
Don’t rest on your laurels. Large insurers are more experienced with IPT but when there are wholesale changes, details can sometimes be missed or not fully understood. Make sure you are expanding your horizons and always learning. When changes are required, for example when Portugal went from return to transactional filing or when Spain announced a rate change, it’s important to understand the effect this will have on systems and consequently submission.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help beyond your team. At Sovos we deal with a wide range of insurers and have a wealth of experience, so we’ve most likely helped with a similar query and our team of experts are up to date with the latest IPT requirements.
Don’t be scared to reach out and get a second opinion if you’re unsure, we can help guide you.
Do you have any advice about IPT compliance for all insurers, regardless of their size?
Preparation and education are key! There are various stakeholders in the data supply chain, and it is important that everyone is uniform in their understanding of the requirements needed for ongoing compliance.
How can Sovos help large and small insurers?
For small insurers who are still using legacy systems, Sovos’ IPT Determination software can integrate with legacy systems to ensure relevant details are captured. We’ve helped many small insurers with IPT registrations, assisting with the process from preparation stage, submitting documents on a client’s behalf, and advising once registration is complete. You can lean on our expertise to save you time and enable you to focus on your business.
Implementation of Sovos’ IPT Determination software is not limited to solely smaller insurers. For large insurers we also offer an end to end to end solution. Furthermore, our IPT consultancy is on hand to advise on complex tax issues, to give you confidence in high-level decision making.
We have extensive relationships with tax authorities and we have local representatives and associates in countries across the globe who can assist us and our clients with the most complex of IPT queries and requirements.