Sophie graduated from Durham University after studying History. She now works for one of the 'Big Four' Ernst & Young as an Assistant Tax Adviser.
I graduated university in 2009 having studied History at Durham. After university I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to take with my career.
I applied for tax with Ernst & Young as the graduate scheme offered the opportunity for a challenging role and the chance to gain recognised qualifications.
Expatriate tax in particular appealed to me as the direct involvement with individual’s tax affairs provides great opportunity for client contact.
I started the graduate programme in September 2010 and following two months in college I sat three of the ATT exams in November 2010 and the final paper in May this year.
The time I get into work depends a lot on the state of the Tube in the morning, but I like to get in before 09.00. This gives me time to check my calendar to see what meetings I have coming up during the day. I also use this time to scan through any new emails that have come in overnight and prioritise my tasks for the day.
The first thing that I deal with in the morning is any new assignee queries. Working in expatriate tax, it is our job to assist our client’s employees who have been assigned abroad with their UK tax affairs. This includes preparing their UK tax returns and providing advice on any personal tax issues they may have.
Many assignees have queries regarding the completion of their tax returns. Some of these are relatively straight forward. However other questions revolve around detailed personal tax advice. Complex queries may involve researching current tax legislation and discussions with other members of the team to provide a complete response.
Today I have a team meeting. Each week we have a short meeting to go through the main pieces of work that have been completed and to highlight any tasks or deadlines coming up in the week. These meetings are really helpful for making sure that the whole team is aware of any important developments with the client.
I try to spend some time at lunch away from my desk. This gives me the opportunity to catch up with other graduates and colleagues who I do not usually work with. Internal training sessions are sometimes held at lunch times. These are often in response to new developments in the UK tax system and are great for ensuring that we are all up to date with any important changes.
One of my responsibilities on the team is looking after any enquiries that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have raised into individuals’ tax returns. These occur when HMRC has questions regarding the figures included on a tax return.
Today I am drafting a letter to HMRC. In order to provide a full response to the questions raised, I need to look over the assignee’s tax returns and files to provide HMRC with all the information that they require. Sometimes these enquires can be dealt with in a short letter. However, others are more extensive and involve detailed communication with the client, the assignee and HMRC.
For the past six months I have been on secondment with a client to assist with a review of their current assignees. This has involved working at the client’s office for three days each week.
The secondment has been a great experience as I have seen our practice from the client’s point of view and have gained an insight into the tax work that goes on in house. This afternoon I have a call with the client to discuss developments in the project. We decide the next steps that need to be taken with this project and also draw up a timeline for the proposed work.
Before leaving the office I make a note of any tasks that I need to follow up on the next day, and if I am feeling very organised I will complete my timesheet.
During quiet times of the year I often leave the office before 18.00. However, this is not always the case. In the build up to the 31 January tax return filing deadline it is often necessary to work later to ensure that all the tax returns are fully processed in time.