Monday, 29 January 2018

Which area of tax should you specialise in?

A career in tax can open up rewarding opportunities. It’s a multifaceted profession, with areas you can choose to specialise in once you've completed your postgraduate tax education.

But how do you know which discipline is the right fit for your mindset and abilities?

Here are four areas you might consider focusing on in your tax training, along with the skills and experience you’ll need to succeed and the types of personalities that tend to excel in them.

1. SMEs

With the growing number of small-to-medium sized businesses in Australia, a business tax specialist will always be in high demand.

For this, you’ll need to be abreast of capital gains implications, the latest GST changes and depreciation schedules, as well as the special exemptions and deductions relevant to each business structure and industry.

Many tax specialists find this work rewarding, as it helps local businesses grow and remain sustainable. Keeping up with the constant federal regulatory changes impacting SMEs also means working in an area that’s dynamic and always evolving.

2. SMSFs

An increasing number of people are choosing a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) to provide their retirement benefits, because it offers more control over investments. This has opened up a complex field for tax agents to specialise in – providing superannuation advice.

SMSFs are a legal tax structure regulated by the ATO. They have strict reporting and compliance obligations. As a superannuation specialist, you’ll need to stay abreast of any new developments so as to provide clients with timely advice on the right structure and planning.

With severe penalties for non-compliance, an SMSF tax specialist has considerable responsibility and therefore needs to be attentive to detail and have outstanding communication skills, along with a comprehensive understanding of superannuation law and practice.

3. Property

A property tax specialist provides advice to investors about how to protect assets and minimise tax liabilities. You’ll need to consider issues such as different tax structures, capital gains implications, deciding between holding and selling, renting, cash flow issues, renovations, transferring property and international tax implications, as well as tax minimisation.

Property tax can be a highly complex area and the laws and regulations can vary widely from state to state. One rewarding challenge of providing specialist property tax advice is helping clients to find viable, sustainable solutions to maximising their opportunities and return on their investment. Specialists in this area enjoy liaising with people who are interested in asset and wealth creation, including high-net-worth individuals and wealth-creation institutions.

4. Corporate advice

The corporate tax path may be well trodden, but for good reason – there are many rewarding specialisations within the larger corporate arena, including audit, compliance, consulting and advisory work. These open up exciting opportunities for specialists working in this area.

If you tend to thrive when given the opportunity to share ideas and collaborate with colleagues, large-scale corporate advisory work can have you working cohesively in a team environment, often across multinational channels.

You’ll need an understanding of international corporate tax implications, as well as effective time management and communication skills, as you’ll often be communicating across different time zones with your firm’s other offices around the globe. But be warned: late nights and early mornings may be required!

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