The interaction you have with different teams and advisers. Be it lawyers or tax advisers in a different country, accountants, economists, or people with backgrounds in different areas like tech or employment. In Matheson, I collaborate with multiple teams so we can give our clients practical advice that’s really tailored to them and to help them understand difficult issues. I like not being in a silo and getting to cross-collaborate on projects.
On my year abroad in college, I got a feel for the international side of law and actually went on to do a masters in the University of Hamburg. During that time, I did several internships in the European Commission, Germany and Luxembourg which is where I got my initial feel for working in tax.
When I came back to Ireland, I completed my training as a solicitor and spent one of my rotations in the tax department. It really wasn’t what I imagined it would be. It wasn’t all maths, and I wasn’t at the calculator all day like some people think. It was challenging and varied, and I got to know the business of the clients I worked with really well. So, I decided to start on the tax path to becoming a CTA and haven’t looked back.
Fundamentally, as a tax adviser, you become very familiar with the legislation. So having the legal background really helps you understand the importance of paying attention to whether it’s an ‘and’ or an ‘or’, ‘should’ or ‘would’ – distinguishing this can have an important impact on your advice. It is a key part of advising on tax so having the broad experience with interpreting legislation and case law can really help.
There’s no magic formula, but there are some traits that help. First of all, attention to detail is good for understanding the issue, reading the legislation and understanding it properly.
I guess an acceptance that every day is a school day. Tax is always changing and there’s always something new coming down the line – for example, global tax reform is a big-ticket item at the moment. A good aspect of the changing nature of tax is that it you can make yourself an expert in that new area. A bit of enthusiasm never goes astray either when working in tax!
Go for it! If you have an interest in tax or think it’s an area that you’d like to explore, definitely feel that out and see what opportunities there are. For me, the internships were great for getting that initial experience – I know the law and accountancy firms offer great internship programmes which are great for getting experience in the area and can be a stepping stone into the career.
I would also encourage you to talk to someone about their experience in the field and get to know about the interesting sides to the career that you might not be aware of or think of when you hear of a career in tax.
Yes, I definitely would recommend the CTA course – it really gives you a good and varied skill set and focuses on the practical side of advising. From the get-go you’re structuring your study and exam techniques on advising a client which is really important in your day-to-day work - this really stood out to me. You’re always thinking about it from the perspective of how do I distil this complicated issue into something that’s understandable and practical for a client? The CTA programme is structured in a way that ensures you’re focusing on more than the theory and gives you a good, varied background to tax.
That’s a good question – I don’t think two days are the same which keeps it interesting. Key parts of the day would be client calls, updating or drafting documents, drafting advice for clients based on your interactions with them and research. Learning is a big part of the day! As the tax landscape is always evolving, at Matheson we ensure we are up to speed on the latest developments, so we often have training sessions, either internally or providing them to our clients. But like I said, no two days are the same and it keeps you on your toes!