For many accounting students, there are two main paths they must decide between: audit and tax.
Tax Associates manage financial records and interview clients ranging from individuals to small businesses to large corporations directly in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the client’s financial standing.
Many of a Tax Associate’s responsibilities involve tax document management and preparation. A Tax Associate works with financial statements and accounting records, ensuring that a client’s finances are tax compliant and that their tax return exposes them to a minimum of liability.
This requires both a detailed understanding of applicable tax codes, and the ability to conduct and apply research in unfamiliar areas. Since tax laws and loopholes are always shifting and changing, Tax Associates will often need update their knowledge with tax courses. If you’re the type of person who loves learning and applying that knowledge directly to the work you do on a regular basis, then a career in tax might be the perfect fit for you.
Tax Associate work isn’t just tax codes and numbers – it also involves a great deal of problem-solving and planning. A Tax Associate can be responsible for auditing bookkeeping systems, or tasked with creating and enacting new ones, and training other accounting employees in the new system.
An intimate understanding of a client’s financial operations puts a Tax Associate in an excellent position to give insight and long-term planning suggestions. This advice can guide income and expenditures, employee compensation, investment and long-term tax planning. And, of course, saving your clients money.
A Tax Associate can also provide support if a client is subject to tax-related litigation, as well as representing a client in interactions with taxation authorities.
Many large firms work with international clients who need help not only with Canadian taxation but also taxation issues in the U.S. around the world, which means this career path could provide opportunities to travel abroad and work with people from around the world. Many national firms provide international secondments where you might work abroad for a year or more at a time!
Another perk: since each industry has its own tax concerns, you can specialize in a certain area, such as energy and natural resources tax, financial services tax, mergers and acquisitions, human resources services, and more. Within about five years, you can expect to be a manager in tax within a certain specialty, working alongside more senior colleagues while managing new associates.
What do I need to know?
Though you need a good head for numbers, a tax associate’s position as a jack-of-all-trades also demands excellent writing and research skills, as well as the ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
Many large firms offer internships and co-op work terms in tax, which are great opportunities to, first, see if you enjoy working in tax and, second, build a portfolio of experience that will help you land an entry level job in tax in your final year.
Many firms also offer CPA training in their tax practices – but not all – so if obtaining your designation is part of your career plan, make sure you do your research to ensure the employer you want to work is approved by CPA Ontario.
Check out TalentEgg’s Accounting Career Guide for student and entry level opportunities in tax: