Tuesday 15 December 2015

Productivity secrets to success

Whether you’re punching deadlines or juggling coursework with an internship at a taxation firm, you’ll know that few things are as effective as squeezing the most out of your working hours.

Despite this, taking control of your time can often appear fraught with challenges of its own. Bad habits and disorganised work practices usually mean giving in to the urge to procrastinate. Luckily, there’s no shortage of secrets that can send your productivity levels sky-high. Here are a few foolproof tactics for getting more done.

The Pomodoro Technique

Invented in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is a much-loved productivity method designed to preserve clarity and minimise mental fatigue. The technique invites people to spend 25 minutes on work and then take a five-minute break. After four Pomodoro ‘rounds’, they enjoy a longer 20-minute rest. This strategy is based on the idea that constantly timing your activities drives you to complete tasks more quickly while avoiding the temptation to waste time. It also uses regular work-free intervals to keep motivation intact.


If you’re juggling multiple commitments, it’s easy to feel swamped by your tasks. That’s why Trello – an easy-to-use app that lets you create ‘boards’ for every project, track to-do items and collaborate with other team members – is a godsend if you’re serious about upping your productivity. Trello also offers total visibility of your projects and allows you to understand your progress at every stage. This makes it easier than ever to allocate your time.

The Cornell System

Ever found yourself sitting in an accounting class bombarded by information you need to record? The Cornell System can work wonders for your efficiency. The system invites you to jot down big-picture ideas, embrace abbreviations and use a ‘recall column’ to list specific words and phrases. It’s a powerful note-taking strategy that lets you capture essential information without needing to fill in the gaps in the future.

Schedule your most important tasks first

Few time-management tactics are as effective as getting your critical tasks accomplished first. If you schedule your most pressing responsibilities for the start of the day, there’s less chance of squandering time on admin and non-urgent work. It will also ensure your workday is in line with your priorities.

From project management apps to scheduling habits, there are countless ways to chase away distractions and optimise your hours. What are your tried-and-tested productivity secrets?

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Tuesday 8 December 2015

A helping hand up the career ladder

Ralph Waldo Emerson once declared: “What I need is someone who will make me do what I can.” As it turns out, it’s not only poets who need a helpful push to reach their potential.

How a mentor can help you

"The first step to finding a good mentor is, of course, coming to terms with the fact that you actually can benefit from having one," says billionaire Richard Branson. Undertaking the right tax course is necessary to have a career in the tax industry, but a mentor can help that career become great.

A wise and experienced mentor can:

  • Prevent you from making rookie mistakes.
  • Let you tap into their network of contacts.
  • Reassure you and motivate you when you experience setbacks.
  • Provide advice on how to improve both your technical and people skills.
  • Act as a sounding board when you need to make big decisions, such as whether to invest in more tax training.
  • Diplomatically point out your weaknesses and show how to improve them.
  • Identify your strengths and suggest how you can better leverage them.
  • Provide the kind of perspective that only comes from age and experience.

Finding a mentor

The good news is that finding a mentor has never been easier. Many companies – including all the 'Big Four' firms – have mentoring programs, and you can also find a mentoring match through the Small Business Mentoring Service or the Australian Businesswomen's Network.

If you want to identify and approach someone without going through a middleman, you can always attend the networking events featured on The Tax Institute's calendar and see if you run into anyone inspiring.

It can even be as simple as picking up the phone, reaching out via LinkedIn or sending an email to someone you admire to ask them to mentor you – they're likely to be flattered you even asked.

How to be good a mentee

Unless they are retired, your mentor is probably going to be someone in a senior position with lots of demands on their time. Respect the time they are selflessly giving to you by turning up to appointments and arriving well prepared with a list of issues you want to discuss. Mentor–mentee relationships can take many different forms, but keep in mind that it is meant to be a business-focused relationship and your mentor may not wish to hear about, or provide advice on, your personal life.

Finally, always show your mentor gratitude and respect, especially when bringing the relationship to a close.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Tuesday 1 December 2015

How LinkedIn can boost your career opportunities

There are now nearly 400 million LinkedIn users across the world. Today's employers are moving to LinkedIn – instead of job boards – to find and recruit top talent. This means that having an optimised and up-to-date LinkedIn profile can help tax students with career prospects now and in the future.

Social professional networks are now considered an essential tool to reach out to potential employers. According to LinkedIn’s Australia & New Zealand Recruiting Trends 2016 report, 40 per cent of surveyed talent leaders say using social professional networks is an essential and long-lasting trend for employer brands to guarantee quality hires. So if top-tier employers are looking to LinkedIn for their next round of hires, it’s important your profile meets the grade.

While LinkedIn may be the online equivalent of traditional networking, the tactics you employ to guarantee success apply in a different way. Here’s how you can attract the eyes of higher-ups from top-tier tax firms with your LinkedIn profile.

Show off your skill set

As with a traditional CV, the skills portion of your LinkedIn profile is an important area that demonstrates your industry expertise. While on a CV the skills may appear as standalone claims, LinkedIn allows your connections to endorse your attributes, showcasing your top 10 skills based on endorsements on your profile. 38 per cent of employer recruiters consider sourcing highly skilled talent as their top priority as we move into 2016. Having active connections offering real-time accolades for your skill set will prove to be a valuable feature on your profile.

Feature any industry-specific memberships

If you belong to accredited organisations in the tax industry – such as The Tax Institute – use the organisations section to highlight your membership and status. LinkedIn is a keyword-rich site, so any opportunity to optimise your profile with relevant search terms will increase the odds of it being viewed by a recruiter or HR manager.

Include tax-specific coursework

As a recent tax graduate or current student, one of the most attractive traits you possess is your education. While a degree is an achievement in itself, it is also worthwhile to highlight any industry-related coursework that could impress potential employers. This might include any on-the-job training or work offered by organisations while you were studying. This section can prove to be particularly valuable if you see yourself entering a niche area of tax.

Join relevant groups

There are thousands of LinkedIn groups you can join. They range from general interest to industry specific and can be a great place to find out about news and changes in the tax industry. Join The Tax Institute LinkedIn group to build your tax knowledge and engage with industry peers.

Being active in groups can also make you more attractive to potential employers who are members. Keep in mind that if you start a conversation, it's important to follow up on comments and questions.

An active LinkedIn profile can improve the odds of your name being seen by potential employers, creating opportunities that have long-term benefits for your tax career.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Take control of those first-interview nerves

You’re nearing graduation and have lined up a number of job interviews. It’s understandable that you’re nervous, but don’t let those pesky butterflies stop you from showing your interviewers that you’re the right candidate for the job. Be prepared and stay focused so you can tackle those interviews with confidence.

1. Know the role

Make sure you fully understand the context of the role for which you’re interviewing. This knowledge not only puts you at an advantage for the interview, but also demonstrates that you’re interested in this specific job – not just any job.

With this in mind, do the following:
  • Research the company. Get a handle on what the company does, how long it’s been doing it, what the company culture is like and what its values are.
  • Research your interviewer and the hiring manager. A trusty Google search and LinkedIn are great places to start.
  • Read any materials your interviewer may have provided, such as the job description or information on company structure.
  • Research the industry as a whole and the company’s competitors.

2. Find out about the interview process

Learn as much as you can in advance. How many rounds of interviews is the company conducting? Who will you meet throughout the process? Will you have to undertake any tests? If you’re working with a recruiter, a good one will provide this information immediately. If not, don’t be afraid to ask for more information so you can eliminate as many surprises as possible.

3. Prepare answers to likely questions

Most entry-level interviews focus on similar themes. It’s a good idea to give some thought to how you’d respond to the following:
  • Tell me about yourself: This is a starter question aimed at relaxing you and getting you talking. Make sure you use it to focus in on the things you want to say.
  • Why did you choose your field of study? The interviewer will be looking for your passion and commitment to your chosen field.
  • Tell me about some work you’ve completed in this field: This question gauges your textbook and practical knowledge. If you haven’t had the opportunity to work in your field, get proactive and seek out an opportunity. Whether volunteered or paid work, this experience will speak volumes to potential employers.

4. Have questions of your own

With the research you’ve done, you should be able to ask some questions that demonstrate a greater depth of understanding of the company and the industry.

5. Take a deep breath

On interview day, take your time answering questions – don’t panic if there’s a short silence between the question and your answer. Also, make sure you’re answering the right question. If you don’t understand what they’re looking for, ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify the question.

The interview process isn’t just about whether the company is comfortable with you as an employee. It’s also your opportunity to understand whether the job and company are right for you.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Navigating an acquisition

Whether you’re working for the acquirer or the target, acquisitions are exciting transactions to be involved in. As an advisor, you shape how both the newly acquired business and the seller will operate.

Acquisitions typically have a wide variety of tax implications, and usually involve a large team covering corporate, international and transaction taxes. These transactions involve a significant amount of planning and careful execution to ensure every aspect has been thoroughly examined.

Planning and advising

The first stage of any acquisition involves detailed planning. This includes considering how the acquisition could be structured. For example, will the shares or assets be purchased? It can also involve looking at options to fund the acquisition.

For every possible solution, there are a multitude of tax implications that need to be identified, researched and solved. This process is complex and requires excellent problem-solving and numerical skills, as well as intellectual agility. A tax training course that focuses on high-level tax planning can help you develop these skills.

A team of advisors is usually involved in this process, with many holding specialised taxation education in areas including corporate tax, international tax, GST or stamp duty. Each member of the team plays a significant role in defining the business.


Negotiations are an interesting part of acquisitions and may involve several parties. Tax practitioners may negotiate with the ATO or state revenue authorities to obtain rulings on the proposed tax treatment of the acquisition. Significant technical research is required to prepare for these discussions and your persuasive skills will be put to the test when creating applications.

You may also be involved in negotiating the final sale outcome and reviewing clauses in the contract, like tax warranties and indemnifications. This requires strategic thinking and foresight to identify the best way to protect your client. These negotiations also require a high degree of discretion due to the sensitive nature of such transactions.

Documenting and executing

Once the deal is completed, there’s still plenty of work to be done. This includes documenting each aspect of the final arrangement to ensure all the necessary facts are evidenced. You may also use this to prepare the client’s compliance documents, such as tax returns and BAS statements. This is an important part of managing a client’s taxation affairs and may involve liaising with them directly to obtain information. Managing corporate taxation compliance is a good opportunity to put your tax training into practice, while also building a strong relationship with the client.

Navigating an acquisition is a challenging and rewarding experience for any taxation advisor. It provides you with an opportunity to refine your research, problem-solving and negotiation skills, while also building strong relationships with not only your client, but other advisors and regulatory authorities.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Tuesday 3 November 2015

The dos and don'ts of networking as a graduate student

As a recent graduate, armed with a catalogue of up-to-date theoretical knowledge in your back pocket, you have the unique ability to solve problems that even veterans of the game might have trouble with. However, your first networking event can be a bit daunting.

Networking is a vehicle that can potentially accelerate your career faster than anything else. However, you need to take the correct approach from the outset. Here are the dos and don'ts of networking as a graduate student.


While your main aim for the evening might be to speak with the top dog at a networking event, that doesn’t mean you need to go in all guns blazing. Remember, this is a cocktail event and you are here to socialise first and foremost. Solidifying working relationships should be natural, not forced.

Be genuine and approachable

To ensure you have the right approach to the night, try to connect with people on a personal level. People respond to passion, so approach your colleagues on common ground. The more compelling and believable the information you share, the more likely they will be to respond with the same enthusiasm. They may even remember you by the association you create: “Joe is passionate about charity in Brazil and studies tax accountancy.”

Be specific

When you do manage to lock down your ideal target – such as an executive of a top-tier firm – it’s important to be genuine as well as specific. The typical day-to-day role of an executive often means they are thinking about any number of things at one time, ranging from the present state of their business to forecasting several years in advance. It’s safe to say that their thought processes are in a big-picture capacity.

Create a memorable impression by providing them with something tangible to consider. Are you looking for an internship over the summer break or a graduate position? What is it you can offer them, and how might they benefit from accepting your proposal? Whatever it may be, ensure you arrive prepared and capitalise on your moment.


You might have a few industry heavyweights in your sights at the start of the night, but that doesn’t mean you should exclude any connections that aren't the top dogs. A diverse network of connections – consisting of a range of job titles, industries and locations – could offer opportunities for your career that you never quite envisioned. Remember the old adage: “It’s not what you know but who you know.” You just never know how or how well people at a networking event are connected.

Follow through

Once you have made a lasting impression, it’s important to enforce your credibility with the follow-up. If you have locked in a proposal or a catch-up over coffee, delivering on that commitment acts as a guarantor for your reputation. A strong reputation in the industry can do wonders in building the confidence others have in your abilities. Reputation is lasting and can offer you rewards well beyond one night’s interaction.

A successful evening of networking can have immediate as well as long-term benefits for your tax career. As long as you enter the night with enthusiasm and a firm approach in mind, it could be what sets your career in motion.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Thursday 29 October 2015

Four ways to kick-start your accounting career

The right work experience gained while studying can mean everything when you want to get your foot in the door. Employers want to see you’re more than just a good student.

Whether or not you’re earning a salary, internships and junior roles will pay dividends when it comes to launching your career in the competitive world of tax and accounting. A short four-week stint at an accounting firm or tax office, for example, could be all it takes to set yourself up for success.

But why is this experience so important?

Firstly, it shows prospective employers there is more to you than just the knowledge learnt from accounting textbooks. Work experience will also nurture the non-accounting skills you’ll need to be a valued employee, give you solid project experience and a relevant work history. It will also prove you can work well with others, do the work you’re given and that you can handle pressure.

Here are four possible ways to get a jump on your accounting career while still studying.

1. Volunteer bookkeeper

Demonstrate your initiative by actively seeking out opportunities that will provide you with practical experience. Offering your time as a volunteer at a local charity or non-profit helping to handle their books can be a valuable addition to your CV. You’ll gain plenty of hands-on experience, as well as possibly getting the chance to spearhead the implementation of new systems and processes that will continue after you’ve left.

Also consider the insight programs many large financial institutions and professional services offer. These vary in length and range from offering information to involving you in group activities and assignments. They are a good way to show potential employers what you can do and, in some cases, lead to a formal internship.

2. Clerk or assistant positions

Many accounting firms prefer to take and shape recruits early via formal apprenticeships and placements, often advertising for roles such as trainee accounts clerks and trainee accounting assistants. Similar junior roles can be found inside large companies in other sectors that have their own in-house finance departments or accountants.

The alternative is to gain experience in a closely related field. Again, joining a firm as a junior bookkeeper will help you gain relevant skills you can build upon and from which you can jump sideways into accounting when the right role comes up.

3. Non-accounting work experience

Don’t dismiss roles that are not directly in accountancy or financial services. Many firms value external experience and the maturity and people skills they teach. Most experience offers transferable skills, however unrelated it may seem.

By gaining experience as a paralegal, for example, you will acquire solid writing and research skills, commercial awareness and client-relationship skills that will stand you in good stead for your future accounting work.

4. Temping

A great way to spend your mid-semester break is as an office temp. Not only will you be able to apply for more relevant vacancies within that firm as they come up, you’ll already be known and valued – giving you an edge over external candidates. Not to mention you’ll know all the ins and outs of the company.

Even retail roles will show employers you have people and numbers skills, which will at the very least help build your work ethic and show you are able to run projects and manage people.

Don’t forget to keep building your formal skills

The Tax Institute’s education programs are another good way to ensure you build the right mix of relevant skills and qualifications. Find out more information on tax and accounting courses that can set you up for a successful career.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Wednesday 21 October 2015

Is work-life balance really needed so early in your career?

As a newcomer to the workplace, there’s perhaps an expectation that you should be clocking in early, enduring late nights and taking lunches at your desk. Why? To prove your worth on the proviso that the ‘reward’ of downtime will duly come as you move up the ranks.

While many young guns (and even seasoned veterans) are happy to jump at the opportunity to prove themselves with additional work, it begs the question: do you need to sacrifice your personal life for the sake of your career, or is that an antiquated notion?

‘Personal hours’ and ‘work hours’ can become increasingly blurred in a new role, especially when you are trying to make headway. According to a report issued by Randstad, over 51 per cent of workers are now expected to answer work calls outside of traditional work hours. This expectation also extends to annual leave, where 41 per cent of workers believe they should be available despite their holiday status.

But does being available and ‘on call’ make you a better worker?

The same report found that if there was a greater expectation on employees to work beyond traditional hours, the likelihood of them also dealing with personal matters at work would increase. It also suggested that the difference between strictly work and personal matters was now obscured because of the intrusiveness of technology like social media. So work-life balance (or lack thereof) could actually interfere with your working productivity more than you might think.

The case for work-life balance

Contrary to the work ethos that many seniors expect of young recruits, according to a recent study by HR Magazine, two in five junior-level employees actually believe that maintaining a healthy work-life balance helps them work more productively.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean set-in-stone hours should be the only option, it does encourage the belief that your routine work hours should comfortably and healthily fit into your overall ‘life’ schedule – no matter which rung of the career ladder you are on.

According to the same study, a larger portion of junior workers would prefer to mix their personal and work lives, while this was only true across a substantially smaller cross-section of senior managers and directors. So while you may be interested in networking and consider this an out-of-hours activity, such a mantra might be difficult to encourage among senior employees who consider this activity to be an additional ‘in-hours’ operation.

The solution

Work-life balance is about creating and maintaining supportive and healthy work environments, which should in turn strengthen employee retention as well as their productivity on the job. While for younger employees this might include activities such as networking, older employees are interested in seeing quantitative results. As with most things in life, moderation is key, so it’s a balancing act between what is expected of you as a new recruit and which tactics will most impress your new employers.

Work-life balance is the first step to having a tax career that soars. While certain parts of the year will call for overtime, it’s important to keep it all in perspective. And if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, be sure to communicate your situation to your manager.

Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership

If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.

Find out about Student Membership.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

The X factor: Four ways to stand out in your firm

So you’ve blitzed the competition and landed a role at the accounting organisation of your dreams. Congratulations! But don’t get too comfortable just yet.

It pays to remember that winning over your employer is only the first phase when it comes to proving your worth. Taking the initiative and making regular contributions can go a long way towards helping you stand out as your firm’s newest shining star.

Here are four tried-and-tested strategies for moving past the first rung on your career ladder.

Be as proactive as possible

When you’re a new hire at the start of a learning curve, it can feel daunting to take the reins – you don’t want to appear like you’re overstepping your rank. But whether you offer to help an overworked colleague, volunteer for a new project or voice your opinions in a meeting, taking decisive action shows your employer you want to be considered a future asset.

Invest in your professional development

Few things impress a boss more than an employee who is committed to improving their knowledge and learning new skills – even if they already have a degree under their belt. Enrolling in a Graduate Diploma or applying to become a registered tax agent at The Tax Institute is proof that you’re willing to continually invest in your professional development. This sends the message that you’re unwilling to be complacent, and also increases your value as an employee in the process.

Flag issues as they arise

Although it’s tempting to take on tasks without thinking about the consequences, the ability to anticipate and articulate obstacles and issues is a powerful quality that will put you ahead of the pack. From a bottleneck sparked by a client project or a resourcing shortfall that will put your firm behind a deadline, flagging potential problems with your manager isn’t just testament to your skills as a communicator – it’s also proof of your commitment to doing the best job.

Implement a new initiative or system

Remember that star employees don’t just follow instructions – they’re team players who are unafraid to bring new ideas to the table and reinvent the status quo. Implementing a working method that eliminates reconciliation errors, coming up with a project-management system that leads to greater collaboration or simply suggesting a social activity that your colleagues can enjoy together are sure-fire ways to set yourself apart.

It’s important not to rest on your laurels if you want to prove you’re the kind of hire who is prepared to do whatever it takes to master your role.

Whether it’s showing you’re willing to make effective decisions or mustering the courage to talk about problems, stepping out of your comfort zone can help establish your professional credentials in a way that could see you climbing that career ladder sooner than anticipated.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Member profile: Lauren Whelan

Employer: HLB Mann Judd

Position: Senior Tax Consultant

I’m a Sydney girl born and raised. I went to UTS and completed a Bachelor of Business majoring in accounting and marketing. After I decided to go down the accounting route, I started at Mann Judd in the corporate tax department and in my first year had a rotation into business advisory and audit. In 2014 I completed my studies with the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAANZ) and in June 2015 I graduated from my first subject in the Chartered Tax Advisor Program with The Tax Institute.

Describe your current role

I work in the Corporate Tax Division where I have the opportunity to assist the firm’s clients in all of their tax needs – whether it be their company tax return, advising on how to restructure or sell their business in the most tax cost efficient way, or even preparing a tax return for a celebrity!

What are your career highlights?

While I have received opportunities to work with some of the leaders of tax in Australia, a career highlight that comes to mind is recently working with a family business to restructure their business. This not only restructured the owner’s debt, but has also allowed the business to grow and minimised a potentially very large tax bill. This was really a career highlight for me as this client, who reminded me of my own family and their business, gave our firm a glowing recommendation and made me feel like I was making a ‘difference’ to his business.

Why did you join The Tax Institute?

In a world where almost every graduate accountant has their CA, I wanted to stand out from the crowd and continue to develop my knowledge in tax to ultimately further my career.

What advice can you give to graduates?

When starting to look for a job, always go into it with a positive attitude. No matter how big or small the firm may seem, there will always be great opportunities presented to you  - don’t hesitate, make sure you take them!

Who or what inspires you?

Taylor Swift – as a songwriter and performer, I appreciate anyone that has the persistence and determination to see a project from start to finish. Furthermore, at 25 she is the youngest woman to ever be included on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list, proving that young people can make an impact in whatever career they may choose. And best of all, whenever I have had a bad day she has taught me to ‘shake it off’.

What do you do to unwind?

Well apart from obviously listening to Taylor Swift too often, I love to travel to warm  holiday destinations (or dreaming about the next one).

Favourite holiday destination?

Hawaii – it’s cheap to get to, can offer everything from traditional Hawaiian luaus to jet skiing to shopping like a celebrity and every meal is supersized.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Wednesday 7 October 2015

Uni’s finishing. Now what?

As the end of your undergraduate studies looms closer, it’s time to start thinking about a crucial decision: enrol in further postgraduate tax training and education, or get yourself a job in the real world?

Either way, it’s a smart idea to implement the following strategies as a ‘final year bucket list’ in order to boost your chances of success in the path you ultimately choose.

Focus on the grown-up social network

You’ve reached the point in life where it’s time to spend fewer hours sharing funny cat videos on Facebook or picking the perfect Instagram filter, and a little more time polishing your LinkedIn profile and checking out the site for news and ads that might help you land that dream job or identify worthwhile tax training.

You should also be connecting with alumni, academics and other industry professionals who may be able to provide you with assistance or at least useful insights.

Get an internship

Even if you’re set on enrolling in a Master of Taxation, there’s much to be gained by getting some real-world work experience. And if you’re looking to score a graduate position, few things are more attractive to employers than evidence that you’re familiar with the unspoken expectations and conventions of office life.

The big four firms all offer well-regarded internship programs, as does the ATO. Many big corporations, such as Woolworths, Telstra and Google, also offer great accounting internships.

Build your personal brand

The most effective way to stand out from hundreds of other fresh graduates is to build your personal brand. Start by attending as many networking events as you can and make your face and name known to those who matter.

Also, don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and industry perspective by creating your own thought hub – you can start a blog for free or tap into LinkedIn's built-in blogging features.

Become a mentor

Evidence you can inspire others comes in handy whether you’re considering a career in the business world, academia or both. Your university probably has programs that allow senior students to provide guidance to or tutor junior and freshman students.

If they don’t, Volunteering Australia can match up individuals with a particular skill set (such as several years of taxation knowledge) with those who have need of such skills.

Cleverly combine work and study

If you’re a bit of an overachiever (although that’s never a bad thing), undertake further education while finding your feet in a demanding graduate position by custom designing your study. The Tax Institute offers numerous programs you can complete while working that can equip you with the practical skills you’ll need to hit the ground running as an up-and-coming tax superstar.

While celebrating a job well done for completing your undergraduate degree is duly earned, don’t waste those three years of hard work by failing to think carefully about your next move. Whether it’s further education or a graduate role, the time to think about your future is now.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Friday 25 September 2015

How to build your resume while you study

These days, achieving a high-distinction average or mastering your taxation law units aren’t enough to land the job of your dreams. Recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly looking for candidates who combine academic rigour and industry passion with focus, drive and initiative. If you’re still studying for your degree, there are countless ways to prove to your potential employer that your contribution to their business will go well beyond balancing the books.

Here are four strategies for building your resume while you study – because it's never too early to start making a mark on your career.

Volunteer at a not-for-profit

If you’re a third-year accounting student, you could be a valuable asset to a business that couldn’t otherwise pay for your skills. From under-resourced charities that grapple with financial administration to not-for-profits that could benefit from simple bookkeeping, offering pro-bono services can seriously bolster your resume. It can also show employers that your social conscience matches your commercial instincts.

Start a side project

Extracurricular passions aren’t a distraction from your career – they can make you more attractive in an employer’s eyes. Companies are seeking out well-rounded individuals with a range of interests and passions, rather than workers who live for the daily grind. Whether you’ve always dreamt of designing a mobile app, starting a fundraising initiative to help disadvantaged students or planting a community garden, a side project can show your future boss that you’re equipped to put plans into action.

Land an internship

Yes, it may be the obvious, well-trodden avenue, but for good reason. Finding an internship with a company in your industry can accelerate your path to employment and help your resume land at the top of the pile. By working with professionals in your sector, you don’t just gain valuable industry experience and a network of contacts – you’re also better placed to pursue a path that interests you once it’s time to start applying for jobs.

Learn something new

Although future tax professionals are often meticulous and numbers oriented, this doesn’t mean you can’t explore the other side of your brain. Learning a new language, taking a writing class or enrolling in a professional communication course can make you valuable for employers looking for candidates that can connect with their clients – while proving that you’re committed to your personal growth. Alternatively, it’s just as useful to train yourself in an up-and-coming accounting program, take advanced Excel tutorials or brush up on a much-hyped piece of software that businesses are planning to adopt.

From taking a short course to launching a side project, there’s no shortage of steps you can take to build a sparkling CV. What steps did you take to make your resume stand out?

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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Wednesday 16 September 2015

Member profile: Christine Palmer

Employer: KPMG

Position: Lawyer

I completed the dual degrees of Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Laws at the Queensland University of Technology (“QUT”) in 2009. 
In 2010 I completed the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at QUT and was subsequently admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland. In 2013 I completed the Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting and the CTA3 Advisory course in 2014 with The Tax Institute. I'm currently completing a Master of Laws with the University of New South Wales.
I have previously worked at BDO in the Corporate and International Tax team and the KPMG Corporate Tax team before moving to my current role in the KPMG Legal team.

Describe your current role

As a lawyer in the KPMG legal team in Brisbane I am involved in providing specialist tax dispute assistance, legal tax advisory and drafting tax legal related documentation as well as trust deed reviews.

Describe your involvement in The Tax Institute’s committees

I have been a member of the Graduate Diploma Committee since late 2014.  I have lectured for The Tax Institute.

What are your career highlights?

I have enjoyed every opportunity that has been provided to me.  No one particular highlight stands out but I was particularly excited to join the KPMG Legal team this year.

Why did you join The Tax Institute?

I joined The Tax Institute as a way to get involved in the tax community here in Brisbane and to enhance my tax technical knowledge.

What inspires you?

I have always found tax law fascinating as I see it as one of the foundations of a society and is politically driven. Tax law is technically and intellectually challenging and requires you to be continually learning. Every transaction will have a tax implication and being able to help clients manage their taxation obligations in a commercially realistic manner is professionally rewarding and is why I enjoy coming into work every day.

What advice would you give to graduates?

There are no silly questions but always take an issue as far as you can and have your views on it before asking the question. Have a go at the solution before you ask your question.

What do I do to unwind?

I like to play trivia, read, watch tv, go to the movies, shop and spend time with my family and friends.

Favourite holiday destination?

I love Scotland. It is so beautiful.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Are you ready for the proposed GST changes?

The topic of GST reform has sparked widespread debate with NSW Premier Mike Baird’s recent announcement he is backing a proposed lift to the GST from 10 to 15 per cent. So are you ready for the changes possibly headed your way? And why is it important that you, as a budding tax professional, keep abreast of any new tax developments, however initial they may appear?

In his proposal at the recent tax summit, Premier Baird suggested the spike would help fund the public health system, as well as stopping the federal-state financial system from “tumbling over a fiscal cliff”.

Since its introduction 15 years ago, the GST rate has remained untouched. But Baird claimed a rise is now the only viable way to overcome the federal and state struggle to fund health services and provide the required revenue stream of $20 billion before 2020.

He suggested income tax concessions and a new welfare strategy could help lessen the blow to low-income families and the vulnerable. The expectation is that a revised GST package could be created so that households earning up to $100,000 are not put at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, the proposed rise is not set to impact fresh food, health, childcare or education.

While these GST reforms were still very much in the pipeline at the time of the summit, leaders in attendance including various premiers, chief ministers and PM Tony Abbott reached an “in-principle agreement to lower the threshold below which GST is charged on online purchases from overseas from the current $1000”, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Whether or not these changes will be accepted and implemented still remains to be seen. However, as a tax student or junior tax professional, it is important to understand the short-term and long-term implications of the potential rise for your clients. Tax is a dynamic and ever-evolving profession. Equipping yourself with up-to-date specialist tax information, training tools and resources early in this reform process is essential to ensure you are prepared to provide timely, practical and relevant advice to your clients.

As a member of The Tax Institute, you'll gain exclusive access to a comprehensive range of tax courses to ensure you keep abreast of the latest in tax reforms. Led by tax experts to benefit rising tax stars, our professional development program offers intensive and cutting-edge workshops designed to ensure your knowledge as a tax professional is as up to date as possible.

Find out more about joining the 13,000-member community and gain access to powerful resources, progressive education and influential networks.

Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership

If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.

Find out about Student Membership.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Sample exam question 6 - August 2015

Go Explore is the name of a popular retailer, supplying camping, fishing and outdoor equipment.

Go Explore is the trading name of Go Explore Pty Ltd which is a private company, incorporated in Australia.

Go Explore is seeking to expand and will be meeting with potential financiers in the near future.  As a result, it wants to maximise its taxable income as part of a broader picture of showing the best results it can.

You have a discussion with the CFO (who has no real idea about stock valuation for tax purposes) and that discussion involves talking with the CFO about the different methods of stock valuation available for income tax purposes.  You do not talk about obsolescence as you know (and have confirmed) it not an issue for Go Explore as they keep fairly low stock levels and the stock turnover is generally good.

The CFO advises that whilst some stock lines actually cost more than their market or replacement values, some cost significantly less.  The following information was provided to you:

Stock line
Units on Hand
Cost per Unit
Market Selling Value per Unit
Replacement Value per Unit
Kids Neon Blue Fishing Rod
Self-inflating mattress
Super warm sleeping bags

You are not sure about the logic of the replacement value of the sleeping bags being higher than the market selling value but the CFO advises that it is soothing to do with the “super cold snap happening down south” which means that the suppliers have put up their price”.  90% of sales by Go Explore are from Brisbane and they cannot sell these super warm sleeping bags at high prices.

Go Explore has lots of other stock lines as well but wants to value these at cost as it does not have details on the other values.  The value of the closing stock (not including the stock lines detailed above) at cost totals $680,000.

All stock for the current year has been valued at cost for accounting purposes and in the prior year ‘cost’ was also used for both accounting and tax numbers.  Prior year closing stock was costed at $610,000.

Other results for the current year were:

Operating Costs

Go Explore is registered for GST and all amounts above are GST exclusive.

a) What did your discussion with the CFO about the different methods of stock valuation involve? What were the key points you made?    (4 marks)

b) Calculate the taxable income of Go Explore Pty Ltd for the current year assuming that they wish to maximise their taxable income.  Show all workings.    (7 marks)

Click here to view the answers.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Making the most of your Monday

Nothing sends your productivity into overdrive like getting a flying start to the week. Although you might classify Mondays as the ‘weekend hangover’, it’s better to use the day as an opportunity to establish your priorities and beat your deadlines. Whether you’re facing five days filled with client meetings or the last phase of a project that requires your analytical skills to be razor-sharp, here are four top tips for making the most of your Monday.

Get an early start

There is a directly proportional relationship between waking up early and getting the most out of your day. According to recent research, those with a tendency to wake up early were found to feel happier, more productive and energetic than those who rose at an average time – a finding that can work wonders for productivity. From avoiding caffeine after midday to bringing your alarm forward, there’s plenty you can do to rise early on a Monday and prepare yourself for the week.

Factor exercise into your schedule

Do you find yourself spending long hours hunched over reading documents or staring at spreadsheets on a screen? Making exercise part of your Monday schedule can supercharge your concentration levels and help you focus on the task at hand. Whether you attend an early-morning yoga class before commuting to the office or swapping the train to cycle or walk into work, upping your endorphin levels after the weekend can make you more efficient in the days to come.

Build a buffer into your diary

We’ve all arrived at work on a Monday only to find there’s been an issue with a client’s financials or an obstacle that will delay a project. But setting aside time to troubleshoot on a Monday – even if it turns out you don’t need it – can help you sail into Tuesday calm, cool and prepared.

Prioritise the week’s most important tasks

When you’re staring at a week shaped by round-the-clock deadlines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this can give rise to the kind of reactive mindset that can create stress during the next five days. On Monday morning, spend some time looking at your diary, re-evaluating your goals and prioritising the week’s most important tasks. That way, you know when you’re hitting your professional targets and can change your course when you start to drift.

From fast-tracking your wake-up call to setting aside time to resolve issues that will inevitably arise, committing to making the most of your Monday can work wonders throughout the week. What do you do to get the most out of your Monday?

A successful career in tax will change your life. Figure out your aspirations and start taking action today.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

Find out more

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Member profile: Abby Hinchcliffe

Employer: Thomas Noble & Russell

Position: Intermediate Accountant

As a mature aged student I completed my Bachelor of Business degree majoring in Advanced Accounting in 2013. Shortly after I kick started my career in a medium size private practice firm named Thomas Noble and Russell where I have been working for the last 22 months whilst undertaking my Diploma of Chartered Accounting. Thomas Noble and Russell (TNR) is a longstanding firm with a reputation for providing high quality and detailed service. With a strong focus on in-house training it is the perfect environment for me to develop a solid foundation as a Tax Practitioner.

Describe your current role

With almost 2 year experience in business services I am currently focusing on learning the mainly technical aspects of accounting. My daily activities include the preparation, lodgment and administration of Business Activity Statements, Monthly Payroll Tax Calculations, Instalment Activity Statements, Income Tax Returns, and Financial Reports for all types of entities. I correspond with the ATO, other government bodies, bookkeepers and other businesses on behalf of our clients. I liaise and build relationships with my clients and colleagues, which I find most rewarding.

Describe your involvement in The Tax Institute’s committees or contribution to the Institute

Having completed the CTA1 Foundations and CTA2 Advanced course through The Tax Institute. I was so impressed by the concise and practical content and delivery of these courses that I wanted to get more involved with The Tax Institute. I now sit on the Graduate Diploma Committee, which allows me to meet more young tax practitioners (like myself) and discuss how we can support ourselves more as upcoming Tax Professionals. Studying with The Tax Institute has hugely supported me to be more confident applying my knowledge and understand of tax on a daily basis.

What are your career highlights?

I am very thankful for being hired by TNR where the partner and the team I work for take the time to train me in all areas of tax. Other highlights include many moments of appreciation such as receiving client referrals and feedback, the satisfaction of working well with my team and getting to meet people I would not have the opportunity to meet elsewhere.

Why did you join The Tax Institute?

I joined The Tax Institute because I want my involvement in accounting to be broader than the sole office I work in and to network with other Tax Professionals. My commitment to The Tax Institute is a gesture of support and respect for the industry I work in.

What advice can you give to graduates?

Don’t be shy to upsell all your great qualities even if you have no experience, you are no less because you are at the beginning of your career. Understand and respect the wealth of understanding you will build over time. If there is something you don’t understand, make the time to research and discuss with other professionals for your own understanding. Appreciate anyone who is willing to support your learning. Get to know you clients and colleagues as best as you can.

Who or what inspires you?

Many people inspire me including my collegues, friends and family. I will use this opportunity to thank Natalie Benhayon specifically who inspired me follow my heart and peruse a career in accounting.

What do you do to unwind?

Walking, Conversations with my fiancée, family & friends, Cooking, Having a bath and an early night (especially on a Wednesday).

Favourite holiday destination?

Hoi An in Vietnam, it is super relaxing by the beach, lovely people, great food and full of tailors…and a baragin.

Monday 3 August 2015

Where can a career in tax take you?

What do you want from your career? A new challenge every day? The opportunity to travel the world? To make a difference? Financial security? Whatever your reasons, it's important to give the question some genuine thought, especially if you have your eye on working in a competitive field like tax and accounting.

As industry experts at the recent Tax Institute webinar on working as a tax professional revealed, tax is alluring to today's graduates for many reasons. Here we examine several of their suggested benefits of entering the numbers game.

More advice

According to Stephen Holmes, CTA and partner at WMS Chartered Accountants, professional services firms are expanding knowledge so they can provide advisory in addition to tax compliance services.

“You need extra skills to ensure clients stay with you and have confidence in your abilities,” he says. For you, this means more exciting and challenging work, as well as opportunities to develop your potential.

Flexible options

Holmes added that a major challenge facing new entrants is how to become an indispensable expert. While you can specialise in an industry or technical area that interests you, he emphasised the importance of getting to know your niche really well.

International opportunities

The transferable skills you develop as a tax professional will give you confidence to pursue global opportunities. Speaking during the webinar, James Collacott, CTA and senior manager at DFK Crosbie, shared his experience in becoming a successful local tax professional after migrating from the UK.

“[The] tax systems are different,” he says. “You need to swallow your pride, knuckle down and work hard.”

Purposeful days

If you're seeking variety in your career (as well as in life), the tax and accounting path is for you. As Holmes reveals, there is really no ‘typical day’ once you reach partner level.

“Early on, your days are similar, but doing the same thing over and over is a good thing for your future career.” Your days will become more varied as you climb the ranks, although the repetition you experience at a junior level is still necessary – and extremely valuable, as it will help build your technical and client skills.

How can you kickstart your tax career today?

Collacott encourages budding tax agents to stand out from the crowd by demonstrating their abilities in all facets of the industry. You can undertake the Chartered Tax Adviser program, which increases your knowledge and bridges the gap between the theoretical and practical aspects of practice, or become a member of The Tax Institute. He also suggests gaining education in areas like marketing, management and communication.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

Find out more 

Wednesday 29 July 2015

“Why do you want a career in tax?”

You've polished off your postgraduate tax training and landed an interview for a dream position with a leading tax firm that could launch your career. Then comes the inevitable question: “Why do you want a career in tax?” Here are a few helpful responses to keep in your back pocket that should impress your future employer much more than: “Because I want to make heaps of money.”

1. “Because tax is one of the all-pervading certainties of life.”

Taxation profoundly affects individuals, organisations and nations, so you may wish to point out that you’re excited to work in the tax industry because of its impact on pretty much every field of human endeavour. Anthonius Lukito completed a CTA2 Advanced course at The Tax Institute and says it gave him the chance to learn more about the things that make the tax system, and hence individual businesses and the wider economy, tick. “The most valuable aspect of the CTA2 Advanced course is that you get to know the rationale and insight behind a tax law,” he says. “Being able to understand how the tax law applies in a practical situation is another valuable aspect of the course.”

2. “Because it’s exciting – at least to me.”

Okay, this isn’t something the general public is likely to understand, but remember you’re almost certainly talking to another person who actually enjoys doing complicated calculations and filling out forms in order to achieve a certain result. So there’s no harm showing a bit of enthusiasm about the career you’re one the cusp of kick-starting. “There’s never a dull moment in tax!” says Eve Starina, a business advisory services supervisor at HLB Mann Judd and a member of The Tax Institute. “While the majority of my time is spent preparing or reviewing financial statements, income tax returns, BAS or FBT returns, occasionally I also have the opportunity to assist clients with tax planning and other matters.”

A career in tax could see you handling the taxation affairs of some of the world's biggest companies, helping small to medium businesses achieve their growth targets or even shaping the tax system itself through policy work with organisations like the Australian Tax Office. What’s not to love about that kind of work?

3. “Because I want to help others.”

Not everyone can be a fireman or aid worker and, while it may not be widely recognised, there is something noble in helping individuals and businesses better understand and navigate the tax system. “My most satisfying moments are helping others with tax questions – whether small or large questions – and helping them to grow their knowledge,” says Juanita Sands, a senior analyst at Deloitte Private Pty Ltd and member of the Victorian Tax Technical Committee. “[I enjoy] having people say, ‘But how do you know that?’ or ‘Where do you know to look for the answer?’ then showing them how they can get that knowledge.”

There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a well-paid, white-collar career, but if you’re looking to impress interviewers, it’s in your interests to make clear you’re keen on the tax industry for more than just the salary.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

Find out more

Sample Exam Question 5 - July 2015

In 2013, Bruce, a retired Brisbane City Council town planner introduced the managing director of Apartment Towers Pty Ltd (AT) to the owner of a large vacant riverfront block of land in St Lucia. Bruce was able to facilitate the sale of the land and subsequent council approval to allow AT to build a luxury apartment building on this land. Bruce did not receive any cash payment for assisting AT.
Upon completion of the apartment building in November 2014, Bruce is transferred ownership of one of the luxury apartments, valued at $1,400,000.

Does Bruce have to return any amount as assessable income for the year ended 30 June 2015? Provide reasons for your conclusion.

Click here to view the answer.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

Find out more

Wednesday 15 July 2015

The mid-year itch: Re-evaluating your degree

As most graduates know, completing your degree – and staying motivated for its full course – isn’t always simple. Many successful graduates have been hit by the mid-year itch – questioning their chosen degree, their aspirations and the compatibility between both. But this hesitancy doesn't have to be anything more than a slight blemish on your stellar university career. Here are three questions you should ask yourself to confirm your chosen degree is still the one for you.

1. Are you struggling with the course work?

While postgraduate degrees, such as the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, offer practical on-the-job knowledge, undergraduate degrees provide you with material to hone skills that will apply in your working life. Ask yourself: do you like the nuts and bolts of the course work? Do you have regular issues completing your work or applying a skill or formula to a problem?
It’s cause for concern if your skills lack in areas applicable to your future career. Tax accountancy, for instance, requires an aptitude for numbers, sound research skills, a fondness for being process-driven and effective communication. If you are struggling with a skill, not just a subject, it might be time to re-evaluate things.

2. Do you enjoy your classmates?

Looking at the people in your degree can go a long way to deciding if this career path is right for you. Consider this: a large portion of your classmates will progress to positions in the same or similar industries to your own. If you suffer from a large number of interpersonal grievances with these individuals, will this carry over into your working life? Do you have personality differences? Would you struggle to work alongside any of them in a professional environment if you were employed at a firm together?

According to psychologist John Holland, personality types correspond with career choices. By his reasoning, the character traits of your future colleagues might spike in certain areas – for good or bad. It’s important that you are certain you will like and admire the people around you, and you will learn from them in the near future.

3. Do you feel inspired?

Great careers, and the degrees that set us up for them, need to stretch us and make us feel inspired on a regular basis. If you are looking for material that is more or less challenging, talk with your tutors and lecturers about upcoming coursework. While one subject may leave you feeling underwhelmed, this could just be a lull in what could become a very hectic month or semester. It’s important to keep sight of your goals and the big picture: a long and successful career within the tax and accounting industry.

With fresh invigoration about your degree, and validation of your career in tax, you can begin your new semester with energy and enthusiasm.

http://taxinstitute.com.au/education/graduate-diploma-of-applied-tax-lawTake the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

Find out more