You've finished your postgraduate tax degree and have landed an interview with a leading tax firm for a dream position that could launch your career.
Then comes the inevitable question: ‘Why do you want a career in tax?’
Here are three responses you can use to impress your future employer more than just: ‘Because I want to make heaps of money.’
1. ‘Because tax is one of life’s certainties’
Taxation profoundly affects individuals, organisations and nations. You can therefore point out that you’re excited to work in the tax industry because of its impact on pretty much every field of human endeavour.
The field of tax is about more than just tax.
Anthonius Lukito, who completed The Tax Institute’s CTA2 Advanced course, says the course helped him learn more about the things that make the tax system, and hence individual businesses and the wider economy, tick.
‘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.’
2. ‘Because tax is exciting – at least to me’
OK, 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 specific result.
So there’s no harm showing a bit of enthusiasm about the career you’re on the cusp of 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 this kind of work?
3. ‘Because I want to help others’
Not everyone can be a fireman or aid worker. However, while it may not be widely recognised, there’s something noble in helping individuals and businesses better understand and navigate the tax system.
‘My most satisfying moments are helping others with tax questions – small or large – and helping them to grow their knowledge,’ says Juanita Sands, a senior analyst at Deloitte Private and member of The Tax Institute’s 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’s nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a well-paid, white-collar career. However, if you’re looking to impress interviewers, it’s worthwhile making it clear you’re keen on the tax industry for more than just the salary.
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