Tuesday 25 October 2016

Tax information to keep you in the loop

Tax is a dynamic, constantly evolving field where professionals need to stay up to date with the latest developments, so they can provide clients with quality advice.

Where do you go to keep up with relevant news? Here’s a rundown of resources that will help you stay informed.

Professional associations

Member-based associations can be great sources of news and analysis. Depending on your background, you might begin with the websites of organisations like CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia or The Law Council of Australia.

The Tax Institute publishes journals and newsletters that cater to a variety of needs, providing important insights on tax issues and discussions on tax policy and systems.

They include:

Government agencies

Visit the sites of the federal and state government agencies and subscribe to their mailing lists for news on laws, rulings and policy issues.

The website of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is an extremely useful direct source of the latest information on public rulings, determinations, ATO interpretative decisions, tax, superannuation and related legislation. Subscribe to the ATO’s Tax professionals newsletter for a weekly email summary of industry issues. Become familiar with the website’s content as part of building your own research practice.

The Treasury, as the government’s central policy agency for whole-of-economy issues including taxation, is another valuable resource. Set up an email subscription or RSS and Twitter feeds to keep up with latest information on policy changes.

Industry publications

Take advantage of your university library’s subscriptions to industry publications such as:

  • Thomson Reuters Latest Tax News: A daily report on tax changes, ATO announcements, updates on legislation, cases, appeals and rulings as well as summaries of tax issues covered in the national and local press.
  • Thomson Reuters inTAX: A monthly magazine featuring technical articles, current tax issues and hot tax topics.
  • LexisNexis Legal Newsletters and Legal Express: Bulletins and daily email alerts on the latest cases, legislation and journal articles.
  • CCH Daily Email Alert: Covering the key developments in tax and accounting.
  • CCH Tax Chat: A free blog on a comprehensive suite of tax-related topics.

Accounting firms

The major accounting firms all publish online articles and commentary on current tax issues. Stay in the loop with an RSS feed, or follow these:

Online news sources

Tax-News.com covers news on tax, e-commerce, legal issues, political developments and economic issues for over 250 offshore jurisdictions or tax havens.

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views on a broad range of topics. Join and follow tax topics or set up RSS feeds or daily email alerts. The Conversation provides easy-to-follow explanations of complex topics – this is a great communication style to adopt when providing advice to clients.

Keeping up to date through your own research is an essential career-long practice that will help you succeed in your professional life. The sources provided here can help you stay on top of the latest news, changes to law and market issues to maintain your industry savvy.

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Friday 14 October 2016

Should you consider work experience this summer?

From volunteering to internships, work experience is a feature of many student summers. So how can you use work experience to enhance your career prospects in the tax sector?

If study commitments have prevented you from applying for a work experience placement during the year, it may be worth looking to the summer holidays to gain key professional skills.

Tempting as it is to head to the beach instead, work experience can accelerate your career and help you stand out from the pack of less motivated undergraduates.

It’s usually better to apply for work experience while you’re still at university. Firms tend to be more amenable when you have the backing of a degree program.

Finding work experience

If you’ve already decided the tax profession is the right career for you, you can start by searching for positions that require specific tax-related skills.

You can also look for broadly relevant roles on career sites and list recurring selection criteria in the various job advertisements. The closer your experience matches those required attributes, the easier it will be to transition from graduate to employee.

Don’t have a clear vision of your future? Consider roles that will enable you to experiment in a few areas. This will help you find your niche. Any related work experience – that shows you've worked in a tax environment – is beneficial.

Five ways to make work experience count

The value of work experience correlates directly with the skills you gain. In any position you should, therefore, aim to:

  1. build technical expertise – particularly in terms of the applied technical skills you can only get on the job
  2. network – you’re in the perfect position to meet influential people in the profession
  3. observe – secure an understanding of the work environment and the different roles that contribute to the organisation
  4. be curious – ask questions and be open to different experiences
  5. add the experience to your resume – in subsequent job interviews, you can talk about how it prepared you for the ultimate role you seek.

Your summer holidays are a great time to ease into working in the tax profession. The busiest period has passed for most firms, which means your allocated supervisor or mentor can give you more attention.

Work experience can make a big difference to your career prospects. Not only will it give you a better understanding of the role you desire, you’ll also build the skills and contacts that will help you secure it.

Taking the initiative while others laze around is a positive career move. How will you make the experience count?

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If you're a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you in your career journey. Find out about Student Membership.

Thursday 6 October 2016

Your new career in tax - what to expect

If you’re an accounting or law student considering a career in tax, you no doubt anticipate a big difference between life on campus and work in the ‘real world’.

You know there’ll be a change from focusing on theory to applying your expertise pragmatically in the context of diverse client challenges.

So how can you ensure the transition from life as a full-time student to that of a full-time tax professional is as easy and pain-free as possible?

Here are a few suggestions.

Seeking help

Your first job is a key step in shaping your career. Each new experience will offer an opportunity to learn, build practical skills, establish rapport with team members and expand your taxation knowledge.

So try to pick up as much information as you can by asking questions and seeking assistance as you need it. You’ll find that most of your new colleagues will be happy to help. They’ll prefer you learn the right way at the beginning, rather than fix problems later.

Your activities

In many graduate or entry-level roles, you’re likely to be given a variety of tasks.

These might range from research and administration through to practical activities like preparing tax returns and business statements. At the same time, you may receive formal training, workplace mentoring or coaching by senior staff, as well as opportunities to attend client meetings and industry events.

These all represent a chance to establish a firm grounding in best practices for preparing work, building communication skills and understanding business etiquette and due diligence.

Learning to work and working to learn

In the early stages of a new job, you’ll be proving your worth to your new organisation. So prepare carefully, adhere to processes and ask questions if you’re not sure about something.

You’ll be learning to function as part of a team. It helps to be flexible and to see your colleagues and your manager as your partners in achieving a common goal.

Don’t despair if the work doesn't initially meet your expectations – for example, it may not be as challenging as you’d like. The sooner you learn all about the company’s clients and business, the faster you’ll be considered for advancement.

In particular, when you have the chance to attend meetings, use these experiences to learn from your colleagues. Observe how they explain issues to clients, manage expectations, set clients at ease and solve problems.

Updating your knowledge

To distinguish yourself from others in your field and ensure your career progression, it’s important to maintain a solid technical base and knowledge of tax law.

On-the-job training – and formal development programs offered by The Tax Institute and other professional bodies – are invaluable. Tax is a specialist area that’s subject to continual changes in law and practice, so continuous reading is also required to stay up to date.

Transitioning successfully from university life to the workplace is all about being prepared, taking time to understand the experiences of others in the profession, getting to know more about your organisation and your clients, and approaching every task as a learning opportunity.

 Student membership

Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership

If you're a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you in your career journey. Find out about Student Membership.