Tax is a complex and a dynamic law. The career options in tax have evolved over a period of time just as the tax laws are evolving.
Tax professionals are becoming more dynamic and versatile. The complexities in the tax laws have created a space for specialism.
The article below brings out different career options in tax. It’s helpful for young professionals who are keen to embark on an exciting career journey in tax and even for experienced professionals who would like to reskill or upskill to have an added edge as a specialist.
It will be great to know your thoughts on this and please feel free to drop a message in the comments box if you would like to share any other innovative tax career option for the benefit of others.
Tax has become a key function in an organization. As such, the role of a tax professional is becoming increasingly important on account of the following reasons –
- Tax laws are evolving at a fast pace
- Technology is transforming the traditional business processes and changing the face of tax
- Increase in cross border business transactions
- Business structures are getting more complex in order to achieve the most efficient tax structure
- Introduction of International guidelines to tackle tax avoidance and promote tax transparency
With these factors in play, there is an ever-increasing demand for specialized advisors to assist businesses as well as individuals to cope with the complexities in tax and manage risks.
Traditionally, the role of a tax professional was akin to an accountant, with a focus on number crunching and ensuring that the regulatory aspects are complied with on a timely basis.
However, in the present day, the role of a tax professional has become more dynamic and versatile. The evolution of tax laws has opened up a number of opportunities and has created a space for specialization.
The purpose of this article is to give information about the different career options in tax. This would not only be useful for graduates or young professionals who are considering exploring a career in tax, but also for experienced tax professionals who want to reskill / upskill and explore niche and specialized areas in tax.
Obviously, a career in a Tax Consulting firm is the most favoured choice for new professionals embarking on their tax journey. Depending on your interest, you can choose to specialize in any of the tax practices such as Corporate Tax, International tax, Transfer Pricing, Indirect Tax, Personal Taxes, Global trade and so on. As you move up in your career, you may also consider specializing in a specific sector or industry which gives you the added edge as a specialist.
A career in consulting definitely gives the opportunity to grow and develop as a professional. You are encouraged to think out of the box and be creative while advising on tax issues. It is exciting and challenging to work in a fast-paced environment with like-minded tax professionals.
An in-house tax role gives an opportunity to oversee the overall tax function of the business. A tax role in a multinational company would be even more exciting and challenging given that you may have the chance to work on multiple jurisdictions, thereby giving you a global exposure.
In general, an industry role enables the professionals to deep dive into the tax aspects of a specific industry. As an in-house specialist, you are expected to liaise with external tax consultants, internal departments and be compliant with the regulatory aspects.
It offers the unique opportunity to understand the internal systems and controls, the interface between tax and technology and the impact of tax on various stakeholders within the organization.
At a senior role, you can act in a decision-making capacity while assuming the risks and responsibilities thereof.
In this era of digital revolution, we are witnessing a massive change in business processes. Why tax technology is going to be the future of tax? –
- Digital tax platforms introduced by tax authorities enable the taxpayers to submit all the documents and returns online without the need for physical filings
- Digital record keeping
- Automation of tax accounting processes
- Automation of tax returns
Thus, technology is certainly helping businesses in improving the internal processes, monitoring risks and aiding in decision making process.
The UAE is strongly focused on digital transformation. It is likely that e-invoicing will be made mandatory in the UAE in future in line with several other countries across the world. There is definitely a great potential for an expert who speaks the tax and the technology language.
A tax technology specialist can consider roles either in Industry or Consulting. Stepping into the shoes of a consultant, there may be the unique opportunity to advise Governments on implementation of digital tax platforms.
As the tax laws evolve and mature over a period of time, litigation is imminent. This is a highly specialized area of practice and it would be important to have a degree in law. Tax lawyers assist businesses with litigation from the lower levels to the Courts of law.
In this practice, it becomes absolutely essential to have good communication and presentation skills in addition to a strong subject knowledge.
A tax lawyer can consider a career either in a law firm having a tax litigation practice or a consulting firm having a dedicated Tax Controversy and Litigation team.
In this region, tax laws are gradually evolving and with the rise in audits by the tax authorities, we are gradually seeing a demand for tax lawyers in the UAE and KSA.
The main role of the tax auditor is to inspect the books of accounts maintained by businesses and the tax returns filed by them and ensure that the returns are aligned with the information presented in the financial records.
They also check whether the returns are filed within the statutory time frame, whether invoices are being issued correctly, all records are correctly maintained and whether the business is fully compliant with all the regulatory aspects. In case of any discrepancy, fines and penalties would be imposed based on the observations of the tax auditor.
A tax auditor may be working with the Revenue services (i.e. Government) or as an independent external auditor.
Another potential interesting area could be a forensic expert for detecting tax frauds.
A specialized tax accountant advises with regard to reporting of taxes as per accounting standards, calculation of tax provisions, deferred tax provisions etc.
This role would be a great option for those with a strong accounting background combined with tax expertise.
Tax policy is a very niche area and it requires seasoned tax professionals having a rich and diverse experience in taxation.
Tax policy experts can act as advisors to Governments in formulating tax policies and providing recommendations to the Government on internationally accepted best practices in tax.
Several large consulting firms also have a Tax policy practice.
Tax Research / Author
For those having a passion for tax laws and a keen interest in creative writing can contribute articles to reputed magazines or publications focusing on tax specific content. Some articles require an in-depth analysis of certain tax issues covering the legislative provisions, international practices, judicial precedents etc.
Tax professor / trainer
If you have a passion for academics, a career as a tax professor or a trainer would be ideal. There are plenty of options to suit your preference, such as a full-time professor in a reputed University, guest lecturer, content development for Tax Learning & Development programmes, trainer in tax courses and so on.
And last but not the least, would you consider a career in tax recruitment?!
It is not uncommon in mature tax jurisdictions for experienced tax professionals to make a move to tax recruitment. Given their experience, they are able to understand the perspectives of both the clients and the candidates. Tax is a complex area, and it always helps to have knowledge while supporting your clients and candidates throughout the recruitment process.
We are slowly moving away from the concept of a generalist in tax to more specialized areas. This has opened up a number of diverse avenues for tax professionals.
Continuous learning and development is one of the most important aspect of a career in tax. You have to keep abreast of the amendments and developments in the tax space to be ahead of the game.
There are different professional courses and programmes available to help you be updated and if you wish to sharpen your knowledge in a specific area.
To sum it up, a career in tax is definitely not an easy ride. But in the end, you may discover that the journey was worth it.
Hope you find this information relevant and useful!