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My job explained: Tax accountant

tax accountantGeorgina Woods explains her career as a tax accountant.

What is a tax accountant?

A tax accountant is primarily concerned with minimising a company’s tax liabilities within the boundaries of ever changing tax regulations. This includes assisting with tax compliance and advising on the consequences of specific activities.

Why did you decide to become at tax accountant?

After finishing my PhD in chemistry, I decided not to pursue a career as a research scientist, but did want to use the other skills I had developed. A major part of the job involves building good working relationships with clients and with audit teams (or finance departments if you work in-house). As a people person, I enjoy this aspect of my job. The technical side of my job is probably the most interesting; I use my skills to research particular points of tax law, using this knowledge and effective communication to make a case to the Inland Revenue. I have also managed to obtain a good grounding in more general aspects of finance and the opportunity to see how successful companies operate.

Can you describe a typical day?

A major part of working in practice is preparation of your clients’ corporation tax returns using information obtained from the audit team and the client (audit teams investigate and produce reports on company finances).

Another important aspect is dealing with Inland Revenue queries. Despite the volume of tax legislation, there are many grey areas in tax and it is often necessary to make a case to the Inspector of Taxes as to why you consider a particular expense should be tax deductible.
With larger clients, you have the opportunity to become involved in planning tax efficient group reorganisations or advising on the tax implications of a merger (when two or more companies join together to form one) or acquisition (when one company takes over another).

In my current position in industry, I am involved in preparing the group’s tax returns and general tax planning but also deal with some of the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and VAT (Value Added Tax) aspects of the business as well.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the research aspect of my job as well as the opportunity to work with a wide range of people. I am also pleased with the general business awareness that I have developed.

How did you get there?

After studying chemistry, maths and physics at A-level, I went on to complete my BSc (Hons) and PhD in chemistry at the University of Liverpool.

After graduation I started working as a trainee tax consultant in the corporate tax department in one of the ‘Big Four’ multinational public practice firms. During my time there, I sat two sets of professional exams: ATT (Association of Taxation Technicians qualification) and ATII (Chartered Institute of Taxation qualification).

After passing the exams and gaining three years practical experience I obtained my Chartered Tax Adviser status. I am currently working as group tax accountant in the group tax department of a plc (public limited company – a limited company whose shares are available for public purchase).

What other skills do you need?

Because I work with a wide range of people, good communication and team working skills are essential to be as effective as possible. I need to be able to explain technical issues to non-technical people as well as having to present technical arguments to well-informed people at the Inland Revenue. I use research and report writing skills extensively in my job.

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