Accountancy Careers worked in partnership with The Chartered Institute of Taxation and The Association of Taxation Technicians to help answer some of your more common questions.
What skills and qualities do I need to be a successful tax adviser?
You will need to be numerate, be able to write well, think laterally and creatively and be willing and prepared to tackle new problems as they arise. The ability to construct logical and persuasive arguments and to interpret complex legislation is essential.
A good memory, tact, diplomacy and an aptitude for researching information will all be highly valued by any potential employer.
What exams do I have to take?
Graduates in any degree subject can qualify as a tax adviser by finding a position as a tax trainee and taking the Association’s ATT examination, which leads to the qualification of taxation technician.
All ATT students are required to have two years’ relevant work experience in UK taxation in addition to completing the exam in order to obtain membership. The next step is to take the Institute’s CTA examination.
Alternatively, graduates can first qualify as an accountant or solicitor and then specialise in taxation, in which case they are eligible to proceed straight to the Institute’s examination. To become an Associate of the Institute you must have completed three years’ professional experience.
Do I qualify to obtain a credit?
There is a credit available to full AAT members who have passed AAT Unit 18. The credit is available in ATT Paper 2 – Business Taxation & Accounting Principles.
There are a number of credits available for CIOT students. For example, those who have passed the final examinations of ICAEW, ACCA or ICAS are entitled to apply for a credit in the Application Paper of the CTA examination. For further details please visit www.tax.org.uk.
Which companies recruit tax advisers and what are employers looking for?
Tax advisers are employed in law and accountancy firms, in industry and commerce, the clearing banks and tax consultancy practices. The major recruiters of tax trainees are accountancy practices. The ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms will generally require a 2.1 degree and a high number of UCAS points.
Top 20 firms offer fewer places, as their tax departments are smaller, but they may be more flexible on entry requirements. The range of tax work undertaken in industry, commerce, clearing banks and tax consultancy practices means that the level of qualifications required will vary in relation to the position available.
Do the ATT and/or the CIOT recruit tax advisers themselves?
The Association and the Institute are the professional bodies for UK tax advisers/tax technicians rather than consultancies and as such are not able to employ tax trainees. Both organisations advertise in careers publications in order to raise the profile of taxation as a career and the professional qualifications offered.
What salary can I expect to start on?
The financial rewards for successful tax advisers are very high. Starting salaries depend on location, size of firm and whether the employer is in industry or commerce. As an example, a graduate ATT trainee with a big accountancy firm in London would commence on a salary of approximately £20,000. Salaries in such firms will increase substantially after success in the ATT and CTA exams.
How do I become a member of the CIOT?
Admission is dependent upon passing the examination and on demonstrating three years’ relevant recent professional experience.
What are the benefits of passing the CTA examination?
The principle benefits are the use of the title Chartered Tax Adviser and the designatory letters CTA, along with enhanced career prospects and commonly a substantial pay increase.
What other exams do I need to pass to register as a member?
You need to have passed either the exams of The Association of Taxation Technicians or those of another professional body such as ICAEW, ACCA or the Law Society. For further details please visit www.tax.org.uk/students_qualifications.
Do I have to be working in tax to register?
No. You do not need to be working in tax to register or to sit the exams but you will need three years’ relevant professional experience to become a member of the CIOT.
Can I register online?
Yes, you can register online at the Chartered Institute of Taxation website.
What opportunities are there for mature students?
The Association and the Institute both have many mature students, as taxation presents numerous, varied career opportunities for those from a range of backgrounds. It offers direct entry for those who decide early on and indirect entry for those who may have already embarked upon a career and now want to specialise or move in a new direction.
What opportunities are there for students from outside the UK?
The ATT and CTA are both UK taxation qualifications. Residence in the UK is not necessary in order to register or study for the examinations; however, students should note that the examinations take place in the UK with very limited exceptions.
Students wishing to specialise in international tax should consider the Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT). Visit the ADIT website for more about this qualification.