One of the great things about a career in tax is that it gives you choice.
For tax advisors, there is only one option - the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification. The Irish Tax Institue's Tax Technician qualification is a practical, flexible, modular programme covering the fundamentals of all areas of tax.
This is a sector where you never stop learning - legislation changes such as the Budget each year, to changes in EU law, can change key aspects of tax system affecting different clients in various ways. A CTA must always be up to speed on such changes.
Once you have decided that you are interested in a career in tax, you can still successfully qualify with our Tax Technician, Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) or our Diploma in Tax qualifications.
Edel Butler is an Administrative Officer with the Revenue Commissioners. Currently she works as a technical expert within the Audit team. Edel holds a Degree in Civil Law from UCD and is also a qualified Solicitor and is a Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA).
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
How did you go about getting your current job?
The process involved completion of an application form. This entailed a detailed description of my educational background together with a short essay detailing the reasons why I thought I would be suited to a career in tax as well as a number of references.
Following a short listing procedure, I was interviewed by a panel of three people. The interview mainly covered the information provided on my application form together with some general questions about the tax system in Ireland.
Describe a typical day?
A lot of my duties as a Revenue Auditor are carried on outside the office, either at the tax payer’s premises or that of their adviser / agent. The Audit process involves me preparing my file following an analysis of the taxpayers tax returns and other information, which allows me to prepare my Audit Plan and I carry this into the initial ( and possible subsequent) interviews with the tax payer and / or their advisers.
I will also examine / analyse the books and records, which will allow me to arrive at my Audit findings, which I will present to the taxpayer and their adviser / agent.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
I prepare for, carry out and conclude audits. I engage with individual tax payers and their tax advisers and / or accountants along with Revenue colleagues within my own District and on other areas of the organisation as required. I am also a technical expert within my district so I am fully utilising the knowledge I gained on the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) course.
Almost every working day I will at some point research some element of tax and the skills I have learned through the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) course have been vital in doing this.
What are the main challenges?
As a Revenue Auditor the challenges faced are numerous. Tax Payers tend to view Revenue Auditors and the Audit process with a certain amount of caution and trepidation. In such circumstances it is necessary to be able to make the taxpayer feel as comfortable as possible. I deal with such situations by ensuring that the taxpayer is fully aware of how the Audit will be carried out.
Revenue has a “Code of Practice” for Audit and I will notify the taxpayer in advance that my Audit will be carried out in accordance with this Code and I will direct them to our website so they can examine this document in advance.
I will always ask at the start of the Audit if the taxpayer is aware of how the Audit will be conducted and I will answer any questions or clarify any issues they may have before I commence my Audit.
By setting out how the Audit will progress, the taxpayer should be prepared for what will happen and I have found that this helps to manage the Audit process for me and the taxpayer.
The Revenue Commissioners offers great opportunities to its staff. There is huge scope for movement within the organisation both in terms of lateral movements and promotions. Revenue has a great mobility policy which ensures that staff do not stay in the one section / area for long periods of time. As a result staff are regularly rotated around to ensure they gain experience in numerous sectors and areas of tax.
The nature of tax is extremely diverse. Tax is changing all the time and as a tax consultant you must stay up to date. After every Finance Bill / Finance Act it is necessary to review any changes brought in or new taxes introduced. It is a challenging and rewarding career.
What's not so cool?
Sometimes, I found at times it was difficult to balance work and studying for the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification, especially when work was busy. However, I was lucky enough to be working in a company which allowed for study leave and so I had sufficient leave to allow me to adequately prepare for the exams.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
My undergraduate degree in Law taught me how to read legislation and analyse / interpret same. This was a skill which came to the fore in my tax studies. Tax is based in legislation and so knowledge of law/ legislation was of huge benefit in my studies. Understanding how a tax is to apply involves interpreting the legislation.
Despite the extensive amount of tax knowledge gained through the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification, situations arise where you will be required to comment on a section of the legislation that has not been covered. It is at these times that the ability to read and interpret the legislation is critical.
Also as part of the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification, we were taught how to research topics using the Irish Tax Institutes search engine, Taxfind. This skill, as I’ve mentioned above, has been hugely beneficial in my career. The ability to write letters and reports is another skill that has been very beneficial in my job. As part of my job as a Revenue Auditor I frequently write letters to tax payers, accountants etc.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
What is your education to date?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
I hadn’t really been aware of tax as a career until I commenced my solicitor traineeship in The Law Society. On the PPC1 course, Probate is a compulsory subject and as part of this module we studied Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT). I enjoyed this element of the course and choose Capital Taxation for Solicitors as an elective subject on the PPC2 course.
Whilst studying in The Law Society, a representative from the Irish Tax Institute spoke to us about careers in tax. It was at this point that I started to consider a career in tax.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Following completion of my Solicitor traineeship I was researching the possibility of obtaining a qualification in tax. At this point I discovered that the Irish Tax Institute was offering the Hunt Scholarship to individuals who were qualified Barristers / Solicitors. I applied for this scholarship and was lucky enough to be successful. As part of this scholarship I secured a placement with William Fry Solicitors.
This placement was for a period of 9 months. I have only recently taken up employment with The Revenue Commissioners as an Administrative Officer. This was a highly sought after position with almost 900 applicants! I have no doubt but that I would not have gotten the job without the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
In Revenue, you have flexible working hours which are managed through an electronic time and attendance recording system. You can start work at any time between 8 and 10 o’clock and you can finish your working day any time from 4 o’clock. This allows great flexibility and ensures that you can organise your day in such a way as to create a balance between career and personal life.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
I think a career in tax is very rewarding and is an enjoyable career. There are a varied number of jobs which are available to someone with a tax qualification, including private practice, industry, Revenue, lecturing etc. The role of a tax adviser in practice or indeed within Revenue is, in my experience, extremely varied and challenging.
I would advise college students who are considering a career in tax to look into placements offered by their colleges / summer internships. I know from my time spent in private practice that a great number of the bigger accountancy / tax practice offer such positions to college students. This is a great way for such students to get a feel for what a career in tax entails and will help them in making a decision as to whether or not tax is something that they would enjoy.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?