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

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

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

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Monday 13 July 2015

Member profile: Julien Wong

Employer: GFA Accountants & Business Advisers

Position: Senior Accountant

I moved from Mauritius to Perth in 2007 to undertake my Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and Finance at Curtin University. Straight after my university degree I went on to complete a post graduate diploma in Chartered Accounting which I completed in November 2012. More recently I completed the Chartered Tax Adviser Program in November 2014. I recently joined the team at GFA accountants & business advisers moving from Grant Thornton.

Describe your current role

A typical day in my role would involve, client meetings, preparation of financial statements and tax returns, tax research and advice and so on.

Working in a small tight knit environment at GFA accountants & business advisers enables me to work with colleagues with definite skill sets. In so doing, I gain exposure and experience in areas such as superannuation, audit and financial planning.

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

I am currently a member of the Western Australian membership services committee.

What are your career highlights?

Having completed the Chartered Tax Adviser Program of The Tax Institute. Being able to win over clients and seeing them achieving their financial goals because of the sound advices our team provided.

Why did you join The Tax Institute?

The tax institute is now a reference for tax expertise in Australia and it was natural to join The Tax Institute to gain access to the high quality of tax training and resources. The tax institute also provide good networking opportunities. Having the CTA designation in the tax industry is almost a requirement to be considered by your peers.

What advice can you give to graduates?

My advice would be to be as proactive as humanly possible in gaining as much knowledge as possible. Nowadays, we should not be afraid of learning, hard work and failure as they will be ever present. We should embrace these experiences as they will better us as professionals.

Who or what inspires you?

I would say that in addition to the prominent world figures like Gandhi, Mandela and Mother Teresa, there are a lot of people among my family, my friends and my colleagues who inspire me. They are those who while being great professionals are able to lead happy, balanced and fruitful lives. I am also highly inspired by those kind and loving people who consciously do things to make the world a better place to live in for everybody, even if it often means going against the tide. Also, in the course of my readings, I often come across ideas that are food for thought and help me grow both as a professional and as a person. I usually value these ideas too.

What do you do to unwind?

I find that exercising is a good way to evacuate stress. Also, spending time with my family is always invigorating and inspiring.

Favourite holiday destination?

Actually, I have no favourite holiday destination because all the places that I have visited on holiday are places full of charm and character on their own. I believe that every country or every place in the world has something different but particular to offer to visitors and I just like to enjoy and make the most of what the place has to offer.

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Tuesday 7 July 2015

Straight from the horse’s mouth

We know that the best tax professionals don’t just bow out of education the moment they have a degree in their hands. Beyond connections in the tax industry, the trait that draws in prospective employers most is ambition.

Postgraduate tax qualifications, such as a Graduate Diploma in Applied Tax Law from The Tax Institute, has the ability to shine a spotlight on your aspirations and enthusiasm. We spoke to some recent graduates whose post-university dip into tax training saw their career opportunities flourish.

Working in a foreign country

As with any transition to a new country, the learning curve regarding new tax policies, important dates and documentation requirements can be steep. For James Collacott, who emigrated from the UK and had over 10 years’ experience in mid-tier firms before his Australian move, he found studying the CTA1 Foundations at The Tax Institute had an immediate impact on his application of tax law to day-to-day work. “I found the course to be very practical in terms of the way I have immediately been able to apply what I have learnt.”

He attributes gaining employment at Crosbie Warren Sinclair to applying for a postgraduate – and foreign tax – qualification. James further proved his commitment by completing his studies as dux of CTA1 Foundations.

Practical application of skills

All too often, one of the bigger complaints about university degrees is the absence of immediate practicality. With postgraduate education, which is completed alongside your work commitments, skills can be applied immediately. For Nicole Chromy, who completed CTA2 Advanced, the course gave her confidence in her abilities to break down and tackle left-of-centre tax situations. “The course is extremely practical and has assisted me in engaging in discussions and advice in my role as a tax consultant. It has also helped me think outside what may seem to be the initial question at hand.”

Understanding ‘why’

Too often we are taught how to solve a problem without first understanding why the solution came to be. The ability to think outside the box to solve complex problems can be attributed to having a deep-rooted understanding of the situation itself – in this case, tax law. Anthonius Lukito, who also completed CTA2 Advanced, found the most valuable part was learning “the rationale and insight behind a tax law”. With a firm grounding in ‘why’, he could begin to tackle questions in practical situations that he had never before come across.

Jason DeMarte, another graduate of CTA2, believes he has come away with a more well-rounded tax knowledge base. While he may not encounter all areas of taxation in his day-to-day work at Cooper Partners, he feels he can apply this skill set to many different areas of tax.

Additional tax courses and tax agent training have the potential to steer your career in an upward trajectory as a new professional in the tax accountancy industry. Consider enrolling in further training at The Tax Institute to boost your success. the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

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