3 ways to keep up with the changing tax landscape

Change is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean you need to stand still (or fall behind).

The rapid evolution of technology, the influence of globalisation and the increased complexity of the tax and accounting landscape means today’s tax professionals need skills that extend beyond the traditional mathematical and analytical requirements.

Tax professionals will be challenged by issues not limited to disruptive technology, borderless trade and an increasingly informed public.

So how can you make sure to keep up?

1. Sharpen your analytical ability

Having a solid understanding of tax law and accounting is essential to surviving the changing tides of tax.

It’s a fact - tax today is more complex than ever, with the biggest opportunities now in advisory work that requires nuanced problem-solving skills. Practitioners today need deep technical skills and to be adaptable to technical disruption and complex legislative change.

According to The Tax Institute’s former Tax Counsel, Thilini Wickramasuriya, tax professionals need a solid understanding of the interaction of tax law and accounting, and where the discrepancies might arise.

“It is about being able to analyse accounts, applying a critical eye, using your tax knowledge and adapting to ATO changes,” she explains.

2. Gain a commercial understanding of business

In an era of increased complexity and demands for being more agile, Thilini stresses the right training and education is critical to ensure tax professionals have the capacity to provide broader and more general business advice.

“Your skills also have to be more transferable globally, and there is demand to advise on international issues as well,” she continued.

“You need to have a much broader understanding of the client’s business and tax implications across multiple jurisdictions.”

Professionals need to broaden their skills and have a solid commercial understanding, as well as, of course, learning about the international issues moving forward.

“You not only need to then be able to communicate your solutions across different parts of a business, you also need to be very pragmatic in your advice and make it digestible to business people who may not be from tax backgrounds – or have an Australian tax background,” she adds.

3. Develop your technical and soft skills

The reality of today’s tax world is that many practitioners have accepted and welcomed technological advances, and believe that automation has allowed them to deliver services beyond the traditional tax practitioner services at reduced cost and risk. Tax professionals need technical skills as well as a diverse range of soft skills to adapt to the new ways of working and develop strengths that can’t be automated. They must demonstrate skills such as leadership, being a team player, presenting and providing client advice, and great customer service.

Looking back at her own career, which began over 10 years ago, Thilini agrees the soft skills aspect of her profession was something she needed to adapt and grow consistently in order to succeed.

“As you progress, it becomes more and more about soft skills,” she said.

“For instance, I’m now finding I’m dealing a lot more with tax software and digital issues, and I need to communicate effectively both with clients and technology staff in languages they understand.”

Change is here to stay, but sharpening your analytical skills, widening your skill set, and understanding emerging technologies could be your key to becoming a tax star.

It’s not to late to hit your career goals in 2018. Find out more about The Tax Institute’s education programs.


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