Wednesday 28 January 2015

Weighing up face-to-face versus distance studying

Deciding to pursue postgraduate tax training or a Master of Taxation? Should you study in-house or via distance education? We look at some of the things you might want to consider before making your decision.


Face-to-face learning relies on a prescribed schedule. And for some, that's a good thing. Being able to diarise and stick to a given timetable has its benefits. An established teaching structure means that learning and assessments are paced, can be planned for and must take priority. For those who have a tendency to procrastinate, face-to-face learning can help avoid backlogs.

However, some prefer the flexibility of being able to schedule their own learning – they can slot in studying when it’s convenient and take control of their education. Tax courses taught online, like the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, offer that flexibility, with the only requisite being access to the internet. No longer are geography and other commitments barriers to advancing your career through education.


For some, classroom environments are conducive to positive studying outcomes, and face-to-face learning can be specifically structured to enhance focus and concentration. Attending lectures in person may help to avoid interruptions, distractions and delays to educational progression.

Others prefer the comfort of their own homes or offices when they study, and online studying provides immediate access to education, without the travel or the inconvenience of booking time out of the office.

Eugene Berkovic, director of taxation at GMK Partners, considers this to be a plus. “From an employer’s point of view, distance learning allows students to better manage and balance work commitment and study. This will often make them more productive and efficient.”

Maximising learning

Face-to-face education allows for the opportunity to ask questions, enter into discussions and practise newly acquired skills in real time. It also means assessment pieces can be enhanced by the contributions of your peers and the testing and tweaking of skills.

However, advances in technology mean that tax training online is not a bar to proper learning. In fact, many suggest that comprehensive electronic and printed resources, online support and frequent online contact with tutors can be of such a high standard that they enhance the learning process.


One of the great bonuses of face-to-face learning is the forging of professional relationships. For Berkovic, networking is one of the benefits of meeting likeminded professionals in a learning environment.

Having said that, distance learning provides opportunities for engagement without geographical barriers through things such as group web/teleconference tutorials, which are designed with participant interaction in mind.

The quality gap between distance and face-to-face learning has narrowed. For busy professionals, distance learning no longer means compromising on standards. It can, however, mean achieving advancement without compromising on professionalism, and that's something worth considering.

Take the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law

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Wednesday 21 January 2015

The art of negotiating your first – or next – promotion

Whether you’re a tax professional ready to take the next step in your career or a junior accountant wanting to make your first move up, knowing how to negotiate a promotion is an essential workplace skill.

Asking your employer for more responsibility – and money – can be daunting, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. Here are four tips for negotiating with your employer and landing the role of your dreams.

Demonstrate your value

If you ask your boss for a raise without demonstrating why you deserve it, you’re almost sure to fail. Set aside some time to document your achievements and milestones and be prepared to use these as examples of your professional progress.

It’s equally important to document the ways in which you offer value – whether you’ve eliminated efficiency by rolling out a new system for reading client data or landed a profitable new account. If you show the connection between your contributions and the success of the business, you’re more likely to receive a raise.

Ramp up your skills and knowledge

It can be difficult to negotiate a promotion if you don’t invest in yourself. Enrolling in a postgraduate taxation course, such as the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, will prove to your boss you’re committed to keeping abreast of changes, developments and new legislation in the industry – a move that proves you can take your professional development into your own hands.

Do your research

Securing a pay rise shouldn’t be a vague process – it requires thought, analysis and research. Arm yourself with statistics about the average salary garnered by your position, studies about typical pay rates in your industry and, if possible, insight from your friends who’ve worked in a similar position. With this knowledge, you’ll make a much more convincing case.

Choose your time wisely

It never hurts to remember that negotiation is a two-way street. Avoid high-pressure periods and times during which your boss is likely to be fielding client requests. If your boss is calm and ready to listen, you’ll get a better result.

When it comes to negotiating a promotion, it's important to balance assertiveness with respect. While it can spark anxiety, it can also help you evolve. Remember to broach the discussion in a professional manner and keep in mind the above strategies for success.

Take the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law

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Wednesday 14 January 2015

Are you ready to fly solo?

There’s no denying that the idea of being your own boss is perennially appealing. If you’re an ambitious accountant, trading in your nine-to-five job to steer your own workload is sure to feel like a rewarding career move. But although flying solo can offer powerful opportunities to test your skills, knowledge and business acumen, it’s impossible to sustain your own practice unless you make an effort to prepare.

Supercharge your skills and knowledge

When working for an agency, you have access to colleagues and resources to solve problems and issues that feel out of reach. But when you’re self-employed, you won’t have the luxury of depending on this kind of support. Enrolling in a taxation course to fill the gaps in your skill set can give you the confidence to strike out on your own. The Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law – a course that incorporates practical expertise from working tax professionals – is a good place to start.

Ramp up your networking efforts

A networking strategy should be a high priority if you’re planning to start a business from scratch. Whether it’s attending conferences and seminars held by industry organisations, reaching out to prospects on LinkedIn or promoting your services via Facebook, making an effort to cultivate contacts is the first step towards garnering a loyal client base.

Play to your strengths

In the entrepreneurial world, playing to your strengths is often a catalyst for success. While taking the time to establish your niche can feel like it costs you business, investing in the areas you excel in can help you develop stronger relationships with clients and build a reputation that will attract new prospects down the track.

Whether you specialise in offering tax advice to small businesses or help creative professionals with superannuation issues, the benefits of developing expert knowledge isn’t limited to relationships alone. A strong professional focus often makes for a more effective marketing strategy.

Make sure you plan ahead

Every new business encounters ebbs and flows. This means that making an effort to plan ahead – from ensuring you have enough money to see you through slow patches to managing your workflow during high-pressure periods – will help you build the foundations of a successful business.

Although flying solo can be challenging, success hinges on your willingness to invest in your skills. Investing in further taxation education could be one strategic stepping stone that helps you achieve it.

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Wednesday 7 January 2015

2015: What to expect in the year ahead

As commodity prices fall and emerging and developed economies struggle to grow, Australia’s long run of strong growth might fade in 2015. If it does, we could see moves to change the nation’s tax system to compensate for a falling tax take. Right now, the planned changes to the tax system for individuals and corporations in Australia are incremental, but this could change as more details emerge on the future direction of tax policy.

Corporate and business

In Australia, 2015 will see continued moves towards trying to develop a so-called ‘Google tax’ on multinational companies to stop them shifting billions of dollars of profits offshore in efforts to minimise their tax bills. Such a tax is also being examined or introduced in other countries including the UK.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said that the Australian Tax Office is currently “embedded in the offices” of 10 multinationals in an effort to work out whether they were paying a fair amount of tax. The target is to secure an extra $1 billion in revenue over the next three years from the clampdown.

Key dates for 2015

  • The company tax rate will fall by 1.5 per cent from 1 July 2015. We will also see the introduction of the paid parental leave levy.
  • Fringe benefits tax will be increased from 47 per cent to 49 per cent for two years from 1 April 2015. The benefits cap for public benevolent institutions will also be increased.
  • Deferral of the new taxation of managed investment trusts ends 12 months to 1 July 2015.
  • The proposed and then deferred changes to the taxation of managed investment trusts are expected to take effect on 1 July 2015.

Personal tax

The current government remains committed to longer-term tax reform and will continue the development of tax reform options to take to the next election through the previously announced tax white paper process. Further structural changes affecting individuals and businesses are possible, such as increasing the rate of GST or broadening its base.

Key dates for 2015

  • The fringe benefits tax rate will also be temporarily increased from the current rate of 47 per cent to 49 per cent for the two-year period from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2017.
  • The first home saver accounts (FHSA) scheme will be abolished from 1 July 2015 and will be treated as ordinary bank accounts.
  • The Family Tax Benefit Part B primary earner income limit will be reduced from the current $150,000 to $100,000 from 1 July 2015. Part B payments will also be restricted to families whose youngest child is less than six years of age. The Part A large family supplement will be limited to families with four or more children.

Policy and cross-border taxes

The progress report is expected on G20 proposals to ensure corporate profits should be taxed where economic activities deriving the profits are performed and where value is created, including the G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to modernise international tax rules.

Key dates for 2015

  • The international effort to ensure large corporations pay fair taxes continues on 15-16 November 2015 during the G20 meeting under Turkey’s presidency in Antalya.

In the ever-changing world of tax rules and policy, continued taxation education is of paramount importance. The Tax Institute’s Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law can help you be better prepared professionally and stay up to date with the latest tax laws.

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.