Tuesday 31 March 2015

Five management skills to aim for

Although you may have just begun your career in the taxation industry, it’s never too early to start learning the skills you’ll need to rise to the top of the organisational chart.

As your career progresses, it becomes less about your own technical abilities and more about your ability to get the best out of others. Here are five managerial skills that will earmark you as a future C-suite high-flyer.

Keep thinking like a newbie

Zen Buddhists prize ‘beginner’s mind’, which roughly translates to observing situations without any limiting preconceptions. The experts at the Harvard Management Review also believe it’s useful to regularly look at established processes with fresh eyes, advising, “Fire yourself. What would you do differently if this were your first day on the job?”

It’s very easy to slip into the habit of passively adopting established systems as your career progresses, but the way to make your mark is to be constantly asking, “Is this really the best way to do this?”

Be weird

Granted, it’s a risky strategy to be determinedly unconventional early on in your career, but once you’ve established you’re competent, you can afford to be a little more out there. Just perhaps not before your first six-month review.

Striking out from the by-the-book way of managing can pay dividends, says executive coach Michael Holland. “Normal managers feel unproductive when some of their back-to-back meetings are cancelled for the day. Weird managers invest cancelled meeting time with walking and talking among their employees.”

Remember, being a maverick never hurt the likes of Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson.


Get into this habit from day one of your career. If there’s an admin assistant – or even someone who’s in the same role as you but a little more inexperienced – that you’re able to farm out some of your grunt work to, do so. Yes, they probably won’t do it exactly the way you would have, but as long as it’s done to an acceptable standard they’ll be learning useful skills while freeing you up to concentrate on higher-value tasks.

“You really want to give people the flexibility to manage their own time relative to their own work deadlines and strike their own dynamic in terms of how to be spending their time,” says Google executive Jonathan Rosenberg to the MIT Technology Review.

Don’t gossip

Socrates once observed, “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” The modern, corporate equivalent might be: “Junior staff with strong prospects of rising in the organisation are always diplomatic, junior staff with weak prospects of advancement slag off the boss, their colleagues and the firm’s clients, mistakenly believing their words will never come back to haunt them.”

Keep on learning

Once you've finished uni, aced a job interview and passed the probation period at that prestigious graduate position you lined up, it can be very tempting to think you’re home and hosed. But if you're not learning anything new, chances are you're stagnating. One of the best ways to ramp up your knowledge base and skill set is to investigate the possibility of undertaking postgraduate tax education.

It’s never too early to start preparing for the day you move into the corner office. Cultivate good habits from the get-go and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when you’re given your own team to manage.

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

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Thursday 26 March 2015

Sample exam question 1 - March 2015

Your answers to the following questions should be concise and should be supported by reference to relevant taxation law.


Owing to competition from a nearby food mall, Polly’s pie shop had to close down permanently at the end of the previous income year. However, in the current income year Polly is still required to make repayments on a loan she had taken out three years ago to provide working capital for the business. These loan repayments amount to $12,000 for the current year, comprising principal of $8,000 and interest of $4,000. Advise Polly whether she may deduct any of these amounts for income tax.

To view the answer to the question click here.

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Wednesday 25 March 2015

Member profile: Juanita Sands

Name: Juanita Sands

Employer: Deloitte Private Pty Ltd

Position: Senior Analyst

Throughout my education I always had a passion for maths and not much else besides reading. My high school teachers loved telling me I should do something like accounting when I grew up, but being a teenager who did the opposite of what teachers said there was no way I was going to become something boring like an accountant. After starting a maths, psych and law degree, I ultimately ended up at TAFE doing an office administration certificate and loved the accounting subjects and have not looked back since.
I have now been in accounting for over 15 years and am a single mum to a gorgeous and smart college student and have worked full time since she was in primary school and part time while studying before that. Work and life balance can be a juggle but is very rewarding being a mum, while working full time.
I am currently completing The Tax Institute’s Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law and enrolled in the Advanced Superannuation, with Corporate Tax next semester being my last subject. The Graduate Diploma has been good to cement the knowledge that I already have.

Describe your current role:

I am currently a senior analyst with Deloitte, having moved to Deloitte in January 2014 after spending 12 years at another local accounting firm.
My current role is very broad and diverse. I work in the areas of
  • business advisory services – working with small to medium
  • tax review of large corporate clients for our audit team, some of whom are listed
  • tax provisions for large and listed corporations
  • provide advice for and oversee half of our local office’s self-managed superannuation funds tax advice for our office on a range of areas. To name a few
    • Small business CGT concessions – this and super are on of the greatest tax advantages for small business’
    • Employee benefits - eligible termination payments, fringe benefits, employee allowances
    • Research & Development
    • Accessibility of grant income
    • Taxation of trust income
    • Deceased Estates
Describe your involvement in The Tax Institute’s committees or contribution to the Institute:
  • Member of the Victorian Tax Technical Committee
  • Young Tax Professionals – Northern Tasmania tax discussion group
What are your career highlights?

My first career highlight would be completing a set of trust financial statements, many years ago, that operated a business and then working out the best way to distribute the income. A couple of years after that I lodged a private ruling application with the ATO in regards to life insurance proceeds and the accessibility of them. After much deliberation by the ATO, who found it hard to determine the answer they advised us that the proceeds would be non-assessable and they thought they should produce a ruling on life insurance proceeds.
My most satisfying moments are helping others with tax questions, whether small or large questions and helping them to grow their knowledge. 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. The Tax Institute is one of my favourite search websites.

Why did you join The Tax Institute?

I had attended a few state conventions and then attended a national convention in 2010, as a result I was able to get reduced membership fees. The resources that the Tax Institute have on their website are great for any sort of tax research and their books offer a great hands on approach to working through complex areas of practice, membership provides me with access to these and discounts to the many training sessions they offer.

What advice can you give to graduates?

Ask questions, especially the ones you feel are stupid ones. The only stupid one is the one you never ask – lecturers love that saying.
Take notes when asking questions and keep the notes, even if you never go back to them, you are more likely to remember that something was discussed and it will trigger you where/who to go to for the answer.
Talk to everybody in your office to find out their skill set. Use this knowledge to get a mentor or two in your areas of interest.

Who or what inspires you?

My daughter inspires me every day.  When starting college this year she was really nervous and concerned about the challenges that she would face.  She accepted the challenge and came out of the first day smiling and ready to take on the world. This is the way she deals with all challenges in her life. She has just written a 3,500 word essay for English Literature, I never had her focus and determination at her age.

What do you do to unwind?

Run. I am fortunate enough that I can run before work plus run in my lunch breaks with a work colleague. Running is a good way to zone out as I can’t think or listen to music while running.  Coming back to work after a run is a great way to refocus on work especially when doing research on complex tax matters.
I also enjoy riding my bike and scrapbooking – putting photos and memories on a pretty piece of paper with fancy embellishments.

Favourite holiday destination?

Somewhere with family and preferably with a mountain in sight.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Turbocharge your career in 2015

Determined to give your tax career a hearty push along in 2015? Here are some strategies to attract promotions and pay rises over the coming months.

Higher learning equals higher earning

Being better informed than most people can really help you get ahead, says Linda Descano, global head of content and social at financial group Citi. “Go long on industry knowledge and really, really understanding both the big picture issues and the skills to dive deep and understand technical concepts,” she advises. There are a lot of ways you can acquire knowledge but postgraduate tax education, particularly a tax course such as the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, is one of the most efficient ways.

Network online

With the launch of apps such as butN, Networkr and CoffeetheApp, 2015 is likely to see the ‘Tinderisation’ of online networking (meaning, making business connections via the internet is going to get even quicker and easier). Of course, LinkedIn remains the leader in online networking so, if you’re not already, now is the time to fully exploit its potential, in particular by joining groups related to the industry, such as The Tax Institute. “These groups are full of influencers and even a small compliment from them can do wonders for your reputation, and ultimately your career growth,” says Jawad Khan of the blog Business 2 Community.

Be a mad professor

Find a niche that you can make your speciality. Soak in every bit of information you can on that topic, join groups and start a blog – before long you'll be a recognised expert. Global advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather does this with their staff, calling it “declaring your minor”. “Once declared, we will work together to build skill-sets around those passions so you become a known resident expert in your field of study,” says senior Ogilvy & Mather executive John Manley.

Be exceptional

Extraordinary workers progress at an extraordinarily pace. And, like the saying goes, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit extra. “If you're assigned a piece of work, do it – and then deliver just a little bit more. You'll delight your customers, and the word will get around,” says technology and marketing expert Mary Shacklett.

You don’t need to be a genius or put in 100-hour work weeks to advance your career this year. Just by putting in place the above strategies, and working that little bit smarter and harder can yield big results.

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

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Tuesday 3 March 2015

Four graduate attributes that make employers drool

So you've got a graduate or even postgraduate tax qualification and you're looking to land a prestige tax or accounting position? If you want to separate yourself out from the pack, demonstrating these four attributes will keep you top of mind with hiring managers.

An inquiring mind

American writer John Maxwell famously observed that a person who knows how will always have a job, but that the person who knows why will always be the boss. Your recent tax qualification will hopefully have encouraged you to constantly ask that crucial ‘why?’ question. James Collacott, dux of the Tax Institute's CTA2 Advanced course, notes: "After having completed CTA1, I knew that I needed to move my knowledge to the next level if I was going to be able to progress my career in taxation. The Australian tax system is complicated and the CTA2 Advanced course allowed me to apply my new knowledge immediately and apply the principles I’d learnt to the tax affairs of the firm’s clients.”


Most jobs are never advertised, meaning if you aren’t in the know, you’re not in the running. What’s more, hiring managers are more comfortable taking a punt on a candidate who comes recommended by someone they trust. Granted, having a large network isn’t in itself proof of competence but at the least it demonstrates a candidate is likely to have the ability to work well with others. It’s never too early (or too late) to start growing your network and a tax course is a great place to form relationships with those working in the industry.

The ability to communicate

If tax matters were simple you wouldn’t have had to spend years studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level to master them. Nonetheless, you’ll be in hot demand if you possess the communication skills to explain what you’re planning on doing, or have done, to clients with little interest in the intricacies of the Australian tax system. Nicole Chromy says of her CTA2 Advanced course, “[It] has built my confidence to break down and tackle complex scenarios. Furthermore, it has assisted me in working out how to take these conclusions and explain the outcome in an understandable manner to my clients.”

The capacity to not be a team player

It may sound counterintuitive, but the ability to cope with and, when appropriate provoke, discord is something every graduate should have, at least according to Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO public relations firm WPP. He argues: “If a leader is surrounded by ‘yes’ people they learn nothing. Good people know how to stand their ground and make their case – even when others don’t want to hear what they’re saying.”

As necessary as they are, qualifications aren’t likely to be sufficient to land you that dream job. To have your pick of potential employers, you’ll need to demonstrate you’ve got the kind of attributes (such as those listed above) that others don’t.

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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