Deloitte Taps Former AT&T Exec as New Chief Tax Officer-in-Residence

Deloitte Tax has enlisted the expertise of Paul Stephens, the former senior vice president of tax at telecom giant AT&T. With decades years of experience, Stephens brings a unique perspective to solving pressing tax issues, the company says.

Deloitte announced that its Chief Tax Officer Program has brought on Dallas-based Paul Stephens, former senior vice president of tax at Dallas-based AT&T Inc., to the role of independent senior advisor, U.S. CTO Program.

Stephens will serve as the new “CTO-in-Residence” and will advise Deloitte Tax staff and senior leadership while also helping CTOs and their finance organizations create value for their enterprises and communities, the company said. Carrie Falkenhayn, partner and Chief Tax Officer Program leader at Deloitte Tax LLP, said today’s chief tax officers share common challenges, whether leading expansive corporate tax departments or smaller in-house teams.

Falkenhayn says Stephens brings unique perspective and insights on pressing tax issues with his decades of experience at the world’s largest telecom company. “We’re thrilled to share his deep experience and insights with our clients as Deloitte’s new Chief Tax Officer-in-Residence,’ the partner said in a statement.

Adding ‘strategic value’

Deloitte said the company’s deep tax knowledge, multidisciplinary business experience, and vast resources empower, connect, and inform tax executives in distinct and meaningful ways. It said the CTO program, in particular, is designed to support tax leaders at all stages of their careers, inspiring them to lead with confidence.

In his new role, Stephens will help drive meaningful impact through a wide-ranging scope of responsibilities.

Deloitte said he will serve as a speaker and facilitator at Deloitte’s Strategic Tax Conference and other events, mentor CTOs through Deloitte’s Tax Executive Transition Labs, and help develop the next generation of tax leaders through Deloitte Tax Academies.

Stephens also will advise on a broad range of meaningful issues, including business model transformation, stakeholder management, ESG, DEI, and leadership in a virtual environment.

In a statement, Stephens expressed his enthusiasm for Deloitte’s CTO Program, emphasizing the firm’s reputation for excellence and quality. “I hope to enhance the overarching positioning of the CTO function, collaborate with senior leadership, mentor staff and deliver value to clients,” he said. “Deloitte’s CTO Program leverages the organization’s deep tax knowledge, experience, and resources to help tax executives advance their leadership and tax strategy capabilities.” 

Stephens said he looks forward to embarking on the next phase of his career, intending to assist established and aspiring tax directors in seizing new opportunities, strategically adding value to their organizations, and advancing their professional journeys.

Before Deloitte, Stephens spent the past 25 years at AT&T, serving in several senior leadership roles until his retirement in October 2022. 

Most recently, Stephens led a 450-person team responsible for about $22 billion in annual taxes. He played a critical role in developing and advocating positions on legislative and regulatory tax matters, including the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, as well as in resolving significant income tax audit issues.

He’s also an EY alum. Before AT&T, Stephens developed his tax expertise during his 10 years working in the tax practice.

Looking back and forward

Stephens announced his retirement from AT&T in October in a recent LinkedIn post, adding that he would “continue to look for opportunities to give back what many people have so generously given to me over my career.”

The industry veteran said he had no idea what the next 25 years had in store when he joined AT&T in 1997. “With hard work, a bit of luck, and significant help from many mentors, supervisors, and team members, I had the opportunity to hold multiple finance leadership roles with increasing responsibility,” he wrote.

He credits his two biggest career champions, AT&T’s John Stephens and EY’s Dean Bruno, for showing him the importance of prioritizing family, fellow employees, and communities, noting they “put their personal reputations on the line for me.”

What are his keys to success? Stephens ticks them off:

  1. Work hard but maintain balance based on your own priorities
  2. Always “Do the right thing”
  3. Live in the present with an eye towards the future
  4. Communicate effectively
  5. Treat people with respect

Stephens doesn’t overlook the pivotal role played by his parents, family, and an extensive network of teachers, coaches, clergy, and mentors in shaping “the person I am today.”

His parents’ ownership of a small theater business in central Illinois taught him an unwavering commitment to hard work, calculated risk-taking, and the simple virtue of treating others well as the recipe for success, he wrote.

Quoting one of his baseball idols, Lou Gehrig, Stephens borrowed the iconic line, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” But, he wrote: “Stay tuned—the best is yet to come.”

Quincy Preston contributed to this report.

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