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Keep organisations in line as a tax advisor

GradAustralia

Tax advisory could be the right accounting specialisation for you, if you have the ability to break down complex issues. Find out more about this career path.

What is tax advisory?

It’s a universal truth that all organisations in Australia must pay tax. Knowing how much to pay and who to pay it to though, especially if you’re a global organisation with business units in multiple tax jurisdictions, can be overwhelming.

That’s where tax advisors come in.

When you work in tax advisory, you usually help an organisation with one of two things: compliance or consulting.

Compliance means making sure the organisation is meeting any tax requirements or regulations. At its most basic, this may involve helping an organisation file its tax returns or implementing new accounting standards across the organisation.

Consulting, on the other hand, means providing an organisation with advice about their tax affairs. For example, identifying potential tax risks and making the appropriate operational or system changes. Essentially, consulting is about helping an organisation navigate their tax needs across the entire tax lifecycle in the most effective way possible.

What is the graduate experience like in tax advisory?

If you’re interested in specialising in tax, the large accounting firms, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC, offer a comprehensive graduate tax program. Alternatively, you may choose to work at a boutique tax organisation.

As a graduate, you will usually rotate through different tax divisions, which may include corporate tax, transfer pricing, indirect taxes and research and development (R&D).

Working in corporate tax may mean helping a client understand the tax implications of an M&A or restructure. These projects are typically high pressure and you may work longer hours to support your team.

Transfer pricing means helping a multinational develop its cross-border pricing strategy. Typically, you will analyse a client’s global and local supply chain and find the best way to structure it for tax purposes. This is a great way to build your understanding of how businesses work.

Working in indirect taxes means helping a client identify any GST or customs requirements and develop relevant strategies. These are great projects if you are process-oriented and enjoying developing meaningful systems across an organisation.

R&D is a growing area and usually involves helping an organisation apply for a grant. It is a slightly more niche area of expertise compared to the other specialisations but will expand your knowledge beyond tax. You will work with colleagues from different backgrounds including science, engineering and technology to really understand an organisation and its area of research.

Regardless of which area of tax you work in, you will find that projects are similarly structured. You’ll work in a small team led by a partner and have access to global expertise and knowledge. If your projects are more consulting oriented, you may also work with other services such as process improvement and supply chain optimisation.

What are your career prospects in tax advisory?

With business becoming increasingly globalised, it is important you understand how different tax systems work with each other. At a larger tax firm, you’ll have the chance to work with different offices and build a global network. If you’re interested in pursuing tax as a career, most larger accounting firms will support you to pursue further qualifications such as a Masters of Tax. Like many of the other specialisations within the larger accounting firms, you will find the ability to move to other areas outside tax relatively easily in the earlier stages of your career. However, post manager level, this is more difficult.

Opportunities beyond the larger accounting firms will depend on your area of tax specialisation. Working in corporate tax, for example, may lead to corporate and in-house opportunities, banking or law firms. It will also be interesting to see how the compliance landscape will change given increasing automation.

Choose this if you have:

  • A love of technical detail, processes and all things tax-related.
  • An interest in learning about companies and industries.
  • Strong communication skills and the ability to break down complex issues.