Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Investing in quality tax learning is a necessary part of developing the tax profession

Tax is a well-respected specialisation in the accountancy profession. In serving their clients, tax professionals in the modern world need a range of skill sets, not least excellence in the understanding and application of tax laws and regulations. 

Gordon Grant, Head of Tax Learning and Development at one of the major accounting firms in Australia, provided some insight on the need for investment in tax learning and education.

I am originally from the UK where, in my experience, people with a range of different degree disciplines (and a number without degrees) choose to join professional services firms and enter the tax profession having technical competencies developed by undertaking qualifications and training offered by professional bodies in addition to internal, employer-provided learning programs.

In Australia, where professional education in tax looks slightly different than in the UK, my experience is that the value of an internal learning program for participants can be greatly enhanced by working with professional bodies such as The Tax Institute.

Working with The Tax Institute to provide an external accreditation and independent validation of learning outcomes enhances the outcomes from participation in the tax learning and development program, which falls under my responsibility. Participants obtain the CTA2 accreditation on completion of the first part of the program, and in the second part of the program complete a pathway to CTA3 accreditation and the globally recognised Chartered Tax Adviser designation.

When it comes to formal taxation education more generally, undertaking a postgraduate degree course in tax is extremely valuable to gain deep understanding of the discipline. But again, based on my own experience, I believe people often access these degree programs early in their tax careers without having the level of ‘real-life’ experience which allows for increased benefit to be derived from undertaking such a degree program, and achieving these valuable learning outcomes in the most meaningful way possible.

As tax professionals accumulate an enhanced level of ‘on-the-job’ experience, tax learning programs such as CTA1, CTA2, CTA3 and soon the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, provide a useful way to spend time supporting this development. Additionally, whether or not the postgraduate degree is ever undertaken, the development of a highly tuned tax technical skill set, as well as other relevant business capabilities such as effective writing, can only contribute in a positive way towards a rewarding career in today’s tax profession.

From a business owner and a client perspective, it is essential that tax professionals can demonstrate technical excellence, are able to work efficiently and accurately, and can communicate effectively with their colleagues and clients. Investing in quality tax learning and development is therefore a necessary part of developing the tax professionals of the future.

- Gordon Grant, Head of Tax Learning and Development at one of the Big Four

Enrolments for the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law subjects for Study Period 1 in 2015 are now open.However, if you want to get started in 2014 the subjects CTA1 Foundations, and CTA2A Advanced are currently open for enrolments for Study Period 3 2014. 

Find out more, and enrol, at taxinstitute.com.au/education.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

On the taxation of multinationals

The international community’s pressure is mounting on the taxation of multinationals; and it is starting to result in some significant changes to existing taxation structures.

Recently, in delivering the Budget, the Irish Finance Minister announced that the government would begin phasing out the ‘double Irish’ structure. As members will be aware, the double Irish allows firms with operations in Ireland to make intellectual property royalty payments to a separate Irish-registered subsidiary that is resident in a country that has no corporate income tax.

This change takes effect from 1 January 2015 for new companies, but existing companies have a generous transition period to the end of 2020.

However, despite the positive sentiment behind this face-saving announcement, there is still a major aspect of the Irish tax system that remains of international concern: the very low 12.5% company tax rate that will remain untouched.

It is clear that it will take much more pressure from the international community to change that rather large carrot.

The Tax Institute will continue to be involved in BEPS issues here in Australia, including with respect to the flow-on effects from activity in other jurisdictions. I encourage members who would like to discuss this further to be in touch.


Robert Jeremenko CTA is Senior Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.
The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Tax Institute’s education training is a win-win for partners and employees

As students begin the search for grad positions and employers start sifting through countless CVs, we took the opportunity to sit down with Martin Booth, partner at Moore Stephens Sydney, to talk about his ideal candidate. 

We expect both cadets and graduates to do The Tax Institute’s CTA1 and CTA2 courses at Moore Stephens Sydney and, when it’s introduced, we’ll also be encouraging them to undertake the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law.

We’ve always found The Tax Institute’s tax training a win-win for both the partners and its employees. At university, people will often only do one tax subject, which only covers some very basic legal concepts. And if my experience is anything to go by, it goes in one ear and out the other as soon as exams are over.

I’ve got a Master’s of Taxation degree, so I think I’m in a good position to draw a comparison between lawyers and accountants. What I like about The Tax Institute’s courses are that they’re more focused on the legal rather than accounting end of the spectrum, yet they have a practical focus.

The CTA1 provides an opportunity for all the important concepts to be encountered several times and truly understood. Certainly, once employees have finished the CTA1, they’re able to undertake basic compliance jobs and pump out FBT, BAS and tax returns a lot quicker and with less supervision.

If the CTA1 teaches our staff how to be competent bookkeepers, the CTA2 and CTA3 teach them how to become advisors. Once they’ve done those more advanced tax courses, staff can move into a proprietary role, they can identify the issues and they can provide helpful solutions. I describe it as being able to create history rather than just recreating it – by which I mean instead of just taking data and turning it into a set of financials, you’re using that data to identify current or potential issues the client is facing.

Gen Y employees are typically keen to advance their careers quickly, and doing a tax training course allows them to do just that, as well as giving them a chance to learn from experienced lawyers and accountants who are at the coalface rather than from academics in educational institutions. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to network with like-minded people and make friends – I know I still catch up with people I’ve done different forms of tax training with over the years.

In terms of the financial return to Moore Stephens Sydney of outsourcing this taxation education, while we could have senior staff running internal training programs, it’s not a profitable use of their time. And the return we get on a taxation course means it more than pays for itself several times over. If you spend around $1000 putting a cadet or graduate through the CTA1, you can expect that to improve their efficiency to the point where they are generating an additional $6000 a year in revenue.
  
Our intention is to have staff, at the appropriate stage of their professional development, undertake the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law. There’s a gap in the market between the CA program and Master of Taxation, so I think there is a need for a simplified postgraduate tax course.

Martin Booth, partner at Moore Stephens Sydney



Enrolments for the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law subjects for Study Period 1 in 2015 are now open.However, if you want to get started in 2014 the subjects CTA1 Foundations, and CTA2A Advanced are currently open for enrolments for Study Period 3 2014. 

Find out more, and enrol, at taxinstitute.com.au/education.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Employee share schemes and start-ups

This week the Federal Government announced changes to the tax treatment of employee share schemes.  This was part of a wider package called the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

The Government's announcement includes an unravelling of the infamous 2009 tax changes to employee share schemes and this is a welcome move. It will go a long way to addressing the unfair imposition of a significant tax burden on employees. It should also address the significant compliance burden that employers face under the current rules.

However, as members are well aware, the devil is often in the detail, so we look forward to carefully consulting with the Government on draft legislation to ensure that the new rules deliver the intended outcome and serve to improve the tax treatment for both employees and employers. The Tax Institute's submission to Treasury on this matter can be accessed here.

The 2009 tax changes certainly have taken their place in the annals of political history as some of the worst examples of knee-jerk tax policy announcements.  We must ensure this week's announced changes are properly developed and implemented.


Robert Jeremenko CTA is Senior Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.
The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

New Graduate Diploma Raises the Bar for the Tax Profession

15 October, 2014:  Last night The Tax Institute launched its first postgraduate course, the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, at an event attended by the tax profession’s leading luminaries, including Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan AO.

According to Noel Rowland, CEO of The Tax Institute, “The Tax Institute is raising the bar for the tax profession.

“The launch of our Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law means that we are the only professional association to provide a postgraduate education solely in tax.

“The tax profession will undergo fundamental shifts in both its business model and its workforce, resulting in the need for a changing professional capability in Australia.

“Consumers of tax services are now seeking tax professionals who offer more than tax advice, and who are equipped with the skills to take on the role of business advisor as a whole.

“Tax professionals must be at the centre of business decisions and be able to think and problem solve in a highly nuanced environment to achieve the competitive and comparative advantage sorely needed for Australia’s future.

“The Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law has been developed to teach tax professionals these skills, exceed the regulatory demands of today and meet the challenges of the future.

“All of this while maintaining the practical and applied focus to ensure tax professionals are able to apply their learnings immediately in the workplace - the hallmark of the Institute’s education.”

The Tax Institute is the only designator of the internationally recognised ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ post nominal in Australia.

Contact:

Noel Rowland, Chief Executive Officer, The Tax Institute: 02 8223 0001

Karen Dunnicliff, Sefiani Communications Group: 0435 807 761

The Tax Institute is the country’s leading educator and professional association in tax. Its 15,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.  The Tax Institute supports the tax profession through education and professional development and works to continually improve tax law and its administration.

Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law