Posted by  Hugh Cox  Published on  18 Feb 2013
  • Risk & Compliance

It’s no secret that governments everywhere, both on the local and national level, are hurting for money.

In many cases, it is believed that the reason for the shortfall, or at least part of the shortfall, is that not everyone is paying their fair share.

Regulators seem to believe, as do many others, that if we had higher compliance on regulatory and reporting issues, the budget gap would not be so large.

To be fair, they are probably onto something.

And while most business professionals don’t think of accounts payable as a department that consolidates and reports regulatory information, that is precisely what is happening in many organizations. Whether the issue is VAT in Europe, GST in Canada or sales and use tax in the US, there’s reporting that needs to be done.

But tax items are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, there’s also information reporting. In the US, public companies must comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act anti-bribery legislation. Similarly, in the UK compliance with the UK Bribery Bill is called for.

What this means is the professionals who work in accounts payable need to have a plethora of knowledge.

They not only need to know how to process invoices and make payments, they must also have the needed knowledge to ensure the organization is complying with all regulatory issues. And, this information is not static. It continually changes adding to the challenge of trying to remain in compliance.

Hence, it is critical that accounts payable departments have at least one person responsible for staying on top of regulatory information and sharing it with the team.

Some organizations have had great success dividing up the responsibility by topic. The person accountable is not only responsible for keeping up-to-date but also making sure policies and procedures are updated to reflect updates in the law.