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5 Pesky Tax Career Myths Dispelled For Good!

We know that collectively, we all seem to have an aversion to tax!

Whether it’s filing our returns or learning about what it is and why it matters – something about those three little letters turns most people off.

Which is a bit of a shame! Our friends at EY tell us there’s a thriving world of career success in the innovative world of tax. To help convince us all, the EY team break down some of the common misconceptions about working in their industry.

MISCONCEPTION ONE: ‘If I work in tax, all I’ll do is file tax returns.’

Absolutely not, says David Mackender, Global Compliance and Reporting. The role is much more varied – and he’s yet to do a single tax return:

“I have had a multi-year career in tax and have never done a single client’s tax return. Clients today expect so much more from their data beyond just sending a form to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). They want data and trend analysis, systems improvement, project planning support and technology enablement. All from someone who understands tax so we can speak their language and get the most out of their data.”

MISCONCEPTION TWO: ‘Working in tax is boring and routine.’

Like David, Laura Palmer, International Tax and Transaction Services has yet to complete a single tax return in her twelve-year career! She says the role is anything BUT boring:

“I have worked in tax for 12 years and have had the opportunity to work across multiple locations, including London, New York and Sydney. Some of my most memorable projects have been:

  • Working with one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world (at the time) on the world record transfer signing of one of the most famous men’s soccer players.
  • Assisting a client in implementing a travel framework for their global sales team. This was following  an incident where one team member spent a week in a Namibian prison due to an entry mistake at a sales conference with the wrong visa.
  • Spending a week in Bermuda helping a client complete the purchase of a yachting business.”

Hear from Kate, a current Corporate Tax Graduate at EY, in our employee interview to learn how NOT boring working in tax can be!

MISCONCEPTION THREE: ‘People who work in tax are dull.’

Well, this one’s just rude – and completely inaccurate, says Michael Luu, International Tax and Transaction Services. The industry offers the chance to meet and work with a wide variety of unique and interesting people:

“I have worked in tax for four years and have met a vast array of personalities across all ranks and ages. I can genuinely say that tax professionals are some of the most exciting and interesting people to work with. The international nature of the world of tax brings together a multitude of cultural backgrounds with drastically different appreciations for how business is done across the globe. This in turn brings together teams of extremely culturally diverse individuals, especially at a professional services organisation. Tax professionals love socialising andcconnecting with their colleagues, enabling a better team culture where everyone supports each other. I am proud to say that some of my best friendships have been formed with my tax colleagues.”

MISCONCEPTION FOUR: ‘Tax is too difficult and complex for most people.’

The truth is, many people who work in tax didn’t start there, Michael goes on to tell us. Many start in a different part of the finance sector, begin to learn about tax and all the great career opportunities on offer and then move into the field:

“People often have the misconception that understanding the world of tax (especially in a country with a highly developed tax system like Australia) is too difficult. Or that it is only  for those who have always wanted to make a career in tax or have a legal background. Many tax professionals do not commence their careers in tax. It is difficult to appreciate how broad the realm of tax is until you are in it. Whilst a legal background is useful, it is not quintessential to having a career in tax. Most (if not all) of the technical knowledge will be taught to you on the job (either through EY structured learning programs or by senior colleagues). So, the educational background is not a barrier to making a career in tax.”

MISCONCEPTION FIVE: ‘Tax is just about numbers.’

According to Kate Young, Global Compliance and Reporting, there’s a lot more to tax than simply numbers. There are many skills needed – and plenty of opportunities to grow as a well-rounded professional:

“University students and graduates may have the misconception that tax is just about “crunching the numbers”, but this isn’t the case. Tax is a dynamic field that requires more than maths skills. Tax professionals must be effective communicators to build strong professional relationships while learning about the intricacies of their client’s businesses. They must also understand and keep updated with the ever-changing tax legislation to provide bespoke advice. Numbers are only one piece of the tax puzzle. The field draws on various educational backgrounds: accounting, law, finance, economics, and technology – just to name a few!”

Find Out More

EY’s purpose is to build a better working world.

Their insights and quality services help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and economies worldwide. They develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on their promises to all their stakeholders.

Through four integrated service lines — Assurance, Consulting, Strategy and Transactions, and Tax — and EY’s deep sector knowledge, they help their clients capitalise on new opportunities and assess and manage risk to deliver responsible growth.

Learn more about Tax and the various teams at EY by visiting Tax Student Opportunities | EY Australia.

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