Reading: Lesley Graham of PwC received an award at the recent annual 2019 BUFDG Tax conference

Lesley Graham, PwC’s Reading-based government and health industry tax leader, received an award for her ‘special contribution to university tax’ at the recent annual 2019 BUFDG Tax conference. 

She received the British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG)’s Nigel Clothier Award, for her work with universities to provide a solution and a pricing package to help universities deliver Making Tax Digital for VAT. 

Utilising PwC’s GITC tool, Graham and her wider team have made a big difference to universities’ VAT compliance by improving accuracy and efficiency.

Commenting on the award, Graham said: “It is a privilege to be recognised by the sector, with award was completely unexpected, which makes it the more exciting. I have an incredible supportive team and I am delighted we are recognised for our work in making tax digital across a number of universities.

Amanda Darley, tax specialist at British Universities Finance Directors Group said: ‘‘Lesley has become a great ally for the higher education sector over the past couple of years – she has supported BUFDG and its member universities with various smaller initiatives, but has also put a huge amount of time and energy into driving a big project to customise PwC’s Global Indirect Tax Compliance Tool. This is helping to transform universities’ VAT compliance by improving accuracy and efficiency and freeing up university tax managers’ time to work on many other tax issues. We are very grateful for her efforts.”

Graham and her team have transformed the way universities undertake HMRC reporting by utilising technology. Making Tax Digital (MTD) is a major drive by HMRC to ensure businesses have effective systems for tax, underpinned by clear links between data sources and tax returns. 

There is a hard deadline of October 1, 2020 whereby all universities would need to comply. 

Although MTD is about the digitisation of tax compliance, it need not be overly complex or costly, as a modest level of automation can help build the bridges and links in existing processes. It is however important for universities and businesses to engage and to start to enhance processes to meet the new requirements which will be upon us very soon. 

Lesley Graham (centre) and team

The PwC team who supported Graham on this project were Elizabeth Aspinall-Johns, Emily Hall, Jennifer Lee, Ollie Rosser and Seamus Devenney, all based within the Thames Valley tax team.