High tax rates and cybersecurity are among the most pressing concerns of CFOs at technology companies, according to a new survey by BDO USA.
According to BDO USA, LLP's 2016 Technology Outlook Survey, which polls 100 technology company CFOs, one in four tech CFOs view cybersecurity concerns as the primary driver of industry growth this year, outflanked only by consumer demand for innovative personal technology, selected by one in three CFOs as the most important factor driving industry growth. More than half (57 percent) the respondents increased spending on cybersecurity during the past year in response to the growth of cloud services, mobile devices and the proliferation of sophisticated cyber attacks.
In addition, 49 percent of tech CFOs rank the U.S. corporate tax rate as their biggest concern. Half the respondents believe the tax system hinders their global competitiveness. However, only 16 percent of tech CFOs are increasing their level of tax planning activities over the next year to reduce the organization's global effective tax rate; most (80 percent) are keeping activities on par with last year.
Rounding out respondents' top three tax issues for 2016 are aggressive state tax laws (19 percent) and taxation of overseas activities (17 percent).
Several macroeconomic issues are expected to weigh heavily on tech companies this year. When asked to weigh in on the biggest challenge, tech CFOs were nearly equally divided between policy and tax changes (26 percent), healthcare reform (25 percent), domestic and global political issues (24 percent) and the lack of a qualified workforce (24 percent).
"The presidential election this year will likely put corporate tax issues on center stage, with much hanging in the balance until voters make their decision in November," said David Yasukochi, partner and leader of the Technology and Life Sciences Practice at BDO USA, LLP. "Tech CFOs will also be watching for changes in tax policy at the state and local level, as the states continue to take a patchwork approach to taxing the cloud."
Tech CFOs have become more aware of the new revenue recognition standards that the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board issued in 2014. Sixty-three percent said they were familiar with the new standards, up from 43 percent last year. However, CFOs are still largely indecisive about how they will adopt the standards, with 31 percent still trying to understand the changes. Nearly half (45 percent) haven't decided whether they will choose the prospective or full retrospective option, although prospective is the more popular choice among those who have decided (21 percent). Implementation of the standard has been delayed until 2017, and some clarifying changes have yet to be resolved. For now, 77 percent believe the standards won't have any impact on their organization.
The majority (57 percent) of tech CFOs cited financial reporting as their most serious compliance concern in the year ahead, followed by general fraud and corruption (19 percent) and export controls (11 percent).
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