I have had a lot of success with moving auditors into tax roles over the past couple of years and I am often asked lots of questions around this transition. In this article, I will be exploring the benefits of moving into tax, the skills needed to make this switch and the challenges that come with it.
Why do people transition from audit to tax? Many accountants start their careers in audit before transitioning into tax. This is a common career path that provides a solid foundation of accounting knowledge and professional skills that can be applied to tax work. There are several reasons why accountants make the transition from audit to tax. One of the main reasons is that tax work provides more opportunities for specialisation and career growth. Tax is a complex field that requires a deep understanding of tax law, regulations, and accounting principles. As a result, tax professionals have the opportunity to become experts in specific areas of tax such as corporate tax, international tax, or estate planning. Another reason why people move from audit to tax is that tax work can be more predictable than audit work. In audit, the scope of work and timing can vary depending on the client and the engagement. In tax, the deadlines are usually fixed, and the work can be planned and completed within a set timeframe.
What skills do you need? To make the transition from audit to tax, accountants need to have a strong foundation in accounting and tax principles. They also need to have good analytical and problem-solving skills, as tax work requires a lot of research and interpretation of complex tax laws and regulations. In addition, tax professionals need to have good communication skills as they often work with clients and other stakeholders. They need to be able to explain complex tax issues in a clear and concise manner and be able to provide practical advice to clients. Another important skill for tax professionals is attention to detail. Tax returns and other tax documents require a high degree of accuracy, and mistakes can result in penalties or other legal issues.
There are lots of core competencies that auditors will have gained that will be very transferrable to a role in tax. These include: - Project management - Time management - Ownership of work - Understanding the review process - Attention to detail - Excel skills - Experience having difficult conversations with clients - Knowing your way around accounts - Delegating work
What are the challenges? While the transition from audit to tax can be rewarding, it also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the need to develop a deep understanding of tax law and regulations. This can be a steep learning curve, especially for those who have not had much exposure to tax work in the past. In tax work, individuals may have more direct contact with clients than in audit work. This can require strong communication and interpersonal skills to build and maintain client relationships. In a tax role you will likely be working with other specialist tax teams outside of your remit. There is also a lot of cross-selling within the business when wider tax opportunities are spotted, so there is an expectation of internal networking more so than there is within an audit role. When is the right time to move from audit into tax? The earlier that you can make this transition, the easier the learning curve will be. Ideally you will be ACA part qualified or newly qualified and have at least eighteen months in audit. If you move at this time in your career, you are also likely to make a sideways move in terms of salary than having to take a step back in remuneration. At this point in your career, you may also have the opportunity to transition on to the ACA/CTA joint pathway – just as long as you haven’t yet sat your BPT exam.
To Summarise The transition from audit to tax is a common career path for accountants. It provides opportunities for specialisation, career growth, and a more predictable and less physically demanding work environment. To make the transition, accountants need to have a strong foundation in accounting and tax principles, good analytical and problem-solving skills, and excellent communication and attention to detail. While the transition can be challenging, it can also be rewarding and will lead to a fulfilling career in tax.