Tuesday 31 May 2016

5 tips to help you get top marks on your exams

The exam season has arrived! Preparing for your exams is a great time to affirm your own knowledge and credentials as well as hone your time-management skills. While it’s easy to get bogged down when preparing for the end-of-semester period, improving your study habits now will have you feeling ready well before crunch time. We’ve compiled a five-step guide to help you successfully navigate the exam period.

1. Study when it’s right for you
Every person has natural peak periods during the course of the day where they feel at their most motivated, alert and focused. Whether you thrive during early mornings or consider yourself a night owl, plan your study schedule for when you are at your sharpest. Prioritise complex study content for periods of high motivation, saving the easier material for when your attention wanes.

2. Summarise your notes, rinse and repeat
You don’t have to relearn everything from the semester to perform well in your exams. Condense your lecture notes into points that cover the key syllabus topics of your subjects. Whether you learn visually, by reading it aloud or by sound, the process of shortening your notes will ensure you fully grasp your exam material.

3. Review the exam questions
Nothing’s better than a test run! Get your hands on some exam questions and practise writing your answers. Not only will be you familiar with the style and format of your test, but a run-through is sure to quell unruly nerves. The Tax Institute’s ConTax Newsletter includes example exam questions around tax topics that may be useful while your unit coordinators may also be able to provide copies of past exams.

4. Maximise what you can do
Time spent commuting or performing low-concentration activities – such as cooking dinner or even showering – doesn’t have to be considered the time wasted. Take the chance to make use of these periods by reading through your notes, browsing your lecture material or testing your memory by recalling key points. While you won’t be able to learn anything too complex, continuing to familiarise yourself with your study points will promote faster learning and memory recall – helping you reach your end goal quicker!

5. Test yourself
Your ability to learn the material and then refashion it in your own words is a tried and tested method that shows just how thorough of an understanding you have. Try creating flashcards from your study notes or using the syllabus as question cues to test your knowledge.

While the study period can be tense, it’s important to remember to balance your study time with adequate rest and relaxation. With a positive outlook and by focusing on your goal, you are moving another step closer to a successful 
career in tax.

 Student Membership

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.

Friday 27 May 2016

Ankit Sharma's journey to broadening his horizons through studying

On his path to completing the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, Ankit Sharma, CTA, found a passion for the Corporate Tax subject above other post-graduate providers. The Corporate Tax subject caught his eye for its wide variety of topics which would allow him to broaden his horizons and gain a better understanding of areas of taxation that may impact his clients. Looking back it was a good consolidation of previous knowledge and experience in a formal framework.

Ankit Sharma, CTA, started out as a cadet with Pitcher Partners (Sydney) about 8 years ago and has been working in the private clients’ space since then.  His enjoyment has mainly come from the mix of high net worth individuals and small to medium businesses with not only their compliance needs but increasingly advisory matters where he has the opportunity to add additional value.

The Corporate Tax subject provided a great detailed look into various aspects that affect the corporate tax space. He was able to better understand the complex and varied issues that arise out of various transactions. The subject was broad ranging and completing this course allows him to be a better adviser and apply this knowledge directly to his clients. He has so far identified one specific opportunity to improve a client’s taxation position as a result of completing the subject.

 Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law

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

Tuesday 17 May 2016

How to select a tax speciality

One of the benefits of having a career in the tax sector is being able to specialise in your area of interest. Here’s an overview of some things you need to know before choosing your focus.

A career in tax is versatile, but to optimise its versatility you first need to figure out what you want. Do you want to earn more or travel more? Are there particular lifestyle benefits you're keen on? What about political influence and meeting people? The industry you choose will determine the benefits and challenges you'll have.

Property and investment
Specialising in the ins and outs of property and investment tax issues will lead you to people who are interested in making money, including high-net-worth individuals and wealth-creation organisations.
Great for: Earning potential.

An ageing population, the increase in self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and the complex tax issues around super all mean tax specialists in this area are in high demand. Expect to handle everything from super tax returns to SMSF structures and estate planning.
Great for: Job stability.

There is a wide range of roles in the corporate tax sector – from audit and compliance to consultancy and advisory – and most will involve meeting with clients and working in teams on specific jobs. This environment is very supportive of graduates and you'll find that plenty of opportunities will present themselves, especially as all corporate firms and many of their clients are multinational.
Great for: Travel and international exposure.

The beauty of understanding business tax is that your skills can be applied to almost any organisation, from not-for-profits to sole traders. Each industry has its own particular challenges, for example special exemptions and deductions for artists paired with the instability and breadth of their income streams. Many tax specialists find this work rewarding as it both helps businesses and provides interesting challenges.
Great for: Job satisfaction.

Policy and analysis
Interested in the mechanism of tax? Perhaps policy and analysis is the specialisation for you. A role as an economist or analyst drives everything from political platforms to tax-system reform. If you want to spearhead change as a thought leader on tax, this is your area.
Great for: Prestige and influence.

The tax industry provides steady work and a variety of roles, which is a big draw for students and graduates looking to test their skills in different areas of interest. Choosing a specialisation does require a little research so you can match its benefits and challenges to your skills, needs and interests for a satisfying career.
 Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law
If you are looking to specialise, consider The Tax Institute’s speciality single subjects, including AdvancedSuperannuation, Corporate Tax, and Tax for Trusts in Estate Planning and WealthManagement.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

5 aspects to help you choose your ideal career

Choosing a career is among the most important decisions you’ll ever make, so how do you know what your ideal career is? You've already narrowed down the options by selecting your degree, but the planning doesn't stop there.

Next, you need to think about which practice area interests you, what kind of organisation you want to work for and which industry you ultimately want to work in.

As a tax professional, you’ll have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries, from financial services to fashion. There are plenty of opportunities, so how do you decide? Here are five fast tips to help you identify your ideal career.

Assess your skills
When it comes to choosing your profession, it’s critically important to know where your strengths and talents lie. By aligning your natural skills with your chosen profession you’ll have a greater chance of success and career fulfilment. For instance, if you have a thirst for knowledge and are always looking for ways to improve things, it might be worth thinking about a career in tax, since tax laws change constantly.

Survey your family and friends
Often your family and friends represent a wealth of insight into your habits, behaviours and the areas in which you excel. That’s why it’s worth asking them to list your skills and talents as well as the character traits that they admire – you may be surprised at what this process reveals.

Take the time to write down your top 10 strengths and abilities. Be honest and list everything you’re good at. You might also like to make a list of qualities you’d like to improve upon. How does this match up to the options you’re considering?

Pay attention to what excites you
Often, the things that excite us offer powerful clues into the career that will fulfil us the most. So next time you feel a charge of excitement when you achieve something, don’t ignore it – that feeling is a clue to the kind of work you’ll find fulfilling. Make a list of all the things that interest you and that you enjoy doing. Then compare it to the list of your strengths and abilities. Where do they overlap?

Establish your priorities
It’s important your chosen career reflects your lifestyle aspirations and personal goals. If you value a work-life balance, it pays to pick a job that doesn't demand to toil around the clock. If you require a solid, steady income that will allow you to thrive financially, make sure you pick a stable speciality for which you'll encounter regular demand. As a tax professional, you can expect your specialised knowledge to be in high demand from business, government and private citizens, leading to steady employment.

Embrace internships and work experience
Internships and work experience will give you a powerful insight into what you love and what you loathe. Throughout your studies, take the time to approach companies you’d like to work for and offer your services for free – it’s an investment of your time that’s bound to pay professional dividends. Try working for organisations of different sizes to reveal what type of workplace you are most comfortable with.

Finding the right career takes time, as well as a good understanding of your own strengths, interests and priorities. Once you have a clear picture of what’s most important you’ll be on track to finding your ideal career.

 Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law

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

Tuesday 3 May 2016

5 skills you never thought were necessary for a tax career

When it comes to choosing the right career, expectations don’t always match up with reality. Often the skills we associate with our chosen profession can differ dramatically from those we should cultivate in order to excel.

For Angeline Tan, tax consultant at financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the tax profession offers powerful evidence of this divide.

1. A thirst for knowledge

“It’s commonly perceived that tax is all about the numbers, but it’s also about learning the legislation,” says Tan. “Understanding tax is like learning a new language, so strong literacy skills are really important if you want to get ahead.”

Tax legislation is constantly evolving so you’ll need the ability to adapt to changes and stay up to date. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are essential to help you apply changing legislation to your clients’ affairs.

2. Good communication skills

Tan says that communication skills are a widely overlooked aspect of a career in tax. The ability to communicate succinctly is critical for tackling client briefs, negotiating with different parties and reconciling professional requirements with client demands.

“It may not be a surprise that to excel in a career in tax, communication is important. But what is surprising is how paramount it is to success. To be a good advisor, you have to communicate what you understand to clients and make sure they understand it too. It’s not enough to be fluent in tax – you need to be able to communicate this with others.”

3. Lateral thinking

Although it’s easy to presume that taxation relies on hard facts and empirical knowledge, Tan maintains that there are plenty of grey areas – a fact that calls for a degree of open-mindedness as well as the ability to think laterally and consider problems from different perspectives.

“There is no right or wrong when it comes to tax. Often understanding and embracing the grey area can mean the difference between a good tax advisor and a great one.”

4. Leadership

During your career, you’ll be leading teams in developing creative ways to solve client problems. Tax professionals often work in teams, so you’ll need to work well with others and have good interpersonal skills to succeed. You could be leading members of your own staff, or project teams made up of a range of external consultants and agencies.

5. Project management

To succeed as a tax professional it’s also vital to have good project management and time-keeping skills to help you deliver projects from end to end. You could be called on to develop information management systems and business processes that underpin the delivery of projects.

Tan says that working as a tax professional involves a willingness to be challenged and learn from experiences. “The ability to be challenged and the opportunity to learn from mistakes and excel are the most rewarding aspects of my job.”

More than an ability to work with numbers, as a tax professional you’ll cultivate a diverse range of leadership, management, critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can be applied to any area of business, industry or government.

 Student Membership
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.