Monday 24 February 2014

What’s in store for tax professionals in 2014?

What’s in store for tax professionals in 2014?
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, wrote Benjamin Franklin. And because of this, a career focused on tax will always be a stable one. This year, however, expect an upward curve and a diversity of roles.

According to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook, roles for accountants, economists, and policy analysts are expected to grow strongly over the next five years due to a number of factors.

Firstly, the Coalition government installed in Canberra last September plan to act on a number of their policies, which include scrapping the Carbon Tax introduced by the Gillard government, lowering company tax and introducing schemes such as paid maternity leave that will require adjustments to the tax system. This will keep economists, analysts and tax lawyers on their toes throughout the year.

Secondly, the business outlook in Australia remains positive with thousands of new businesses starting last year and more to come in 2014. Pair this with the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) new campaign to educate businesses about their tax obligations and you have scope for more tax advisers and accountants to help businesses meet these.

Thirdly, trade will become an important hinge on which tax policy may swing. At the recent World Economic Forum, Prime Minister Tony Abbott brought up the issue of globalisation and how having different taxation regimes means some businesses “chase tax opportunities rather than market ones,” a practice he believes is detrimental to free and fair trade. This is a key area for economists and tax policy advisers, particularly those with international business knowledge and/or experience.

Two trends that tax graduates should note is the rise of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and a business startup culture that will come to fruition in a few years. SMSFs fall under a tax structure that depends on compliance. SMSF tax specialists and advisers who understand both the rules and the market will do well here.

Traditionally, startups in Australia have struggled, not from a lack of business ideas but from a lack of funding and commercialisation opportunities. Expect this to change as venture capitalists recognise undervalued Australian startups and domestic lenders rethink their risk appetite. Many entrepreneurs are product or service focused so will benefit from business and financial advice.

Any changes to the tax system or to the way people or businesses manage their finances will have tax implications and tax professionals who keep up with the trends will always do well in a moving market.

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