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.
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