There’s no denying that taxation is a fast-evolving field, spanning business, industry and government. So what qualifications do you need to become a professional tax advisor? There are several different paths you can take to gain the skills and experience necessary to tackle those exciting client briefs and business challenges, so it pays to ask the right questions before you set sail.
While taxation has traditionally been the domain of lawyers and accountants, the government also recently established the Tax Agent Services Regime – a professional certification that allows practitioners to secure ‘tax advisor’ status by undertaking rigorous study and industry-specific tasks.
If you’re an accounting student
You’ll need a degree or post-graduate award (from an Australian tertiary institution) in accountancy. In addition, you’ll need to do a course in Australian taxation law and a course in commercial law that has been approved by the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB). You’ll also need the equivalent of 12 months full-time experience within five years before you can qualify.
If you only have a diploma or higher award in accountancy from a registered training organisation, you’ll also need to complete a TPB-approved course in Australian taxation law and commercial law, as well as two years’ full-time experience.
If you’re a law student
You’ll need an academic qualification to be an Australian legal practitioner e.g. a law degree from an Australian university. In addition, you’ll need to complete a course in Australian taxation law and a course in basic accountancy principles approved by the Tax Practitioner’s Board. You’ll also need 12 months or equivalent full-time work experience within the previous five years.
The Tax Institute offers approved courses in Australian taxation law and commercial law.
To help you identify which university subjects will help you qualify as a tax professional, ask your educational provider the following:
1. Is this subject listed on the Tax Practitioner’s Board website as an introductory or advanced tax subject in Australian taxation law?
The Tax Practitioner’s Board is responsible for the registration and regulation of tax practitioners in Australia.
2. Does this subject incorporate the Tax Agent Services Act (TASA) 2009 along with the Code of Professional Conduct?
The TASA 2009 is the regulatory framework that governs the provision of tax agent services and BAS services in Australia. Students will also need to have an understanding of the Code of Professional Conduct in order to register as a tax agent.
3. Will this tax subject allow me to complete returns for fringe benefits tax (FBT)? Trusts? Business activity statements (BAS)? Instalment activity statements (IAS)?
Taxation is a challenging profession that’s practical and theoretical in equal parts. It’s critical that your subjects equip you to complete the major types of returns you’re likely to be faced with effectively, accurately and in keeping with the law.
Preparing for a career in taxation requires forward thinking and careful planning. But if you cover all bases, you stand to reap the rewards. What steps are you taking towards your future as a tax professional?
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