Careers in Taxation : Evergreen and
Exciting Job Opportunities
A career in taxation is an evergreen, relatively stable, and a fast-growing career opportunity. We all know how intricate tax structures can be. There are direct taxes and indirect taxes. Direct tax is the one that is directly collected from people, such as income tax, wealth tax, property tax etc, while an indirect tax is the one that you pay whenever you purchase certain goods or use certain services. Indirect taxes may include value added tax (VAT), sales tax, customs duty and excise duty etc. Often, people look for experts who can help them in assessing how much tax they need to pay, filing their tax returns, and finding ways to legally save their tax money.
The common stereotype says that tax professionals live a boring and monotonous life but the truth is that working in tax is quite dynamic and fast-paced. Besides accountancy skills, it requires excellent problem solving skills, commercial skills and an analytical ability. To really thrive in the career, tax professionals also need effective communication skills, be able to see the big picture, and deliver out-of-the-box strategically-sound solutions to their clients.
Few careers are as changeable as those of tax experts. Tax laws, rules and regulations change every day. Then, there are the latest court verdicts and orders that serve as guidelines for those who dabble in finances and commerce. Hence, experts in taxation who can handle work with ease and in compliance with the latest tax rulings are always in demand among high net-worth individuals, corporate houses, and public sector undertakings (PSUs). As a tax professional, you are continually challenged and it is extremely crucial to keep yourself updated, expand your knowledge, and adapt new strategies to stay relevant in the market.
Types of Taxation Careers
Taxation jobs are available everywhere in the world. Your academic background and work experience really determines where you end up. Broadly speaking, most tax jobs can be clubbed under the category of administrative jobs, accountancy, consultancy, and handling legal matters.
Generally speaking, tax lawyers or defense attorneys work in a fast-paced and aggressive environment, while those who file tax returns for individuals or corporations have more laid-back jobs. It is true that you may have to work late nights in the field now-and-then but the taxation cycles are mostly predictable and you can easily plan vacations around your lean days.
Tax professionals work at several levels, such as tax accountants, tax analysts, tax advisors, tax recruiters, tax examiners, tax managers, tax collectors, revenue managers, business tax consultants, income tax consultants, property tax consultants etc. Then, there are tax lawyers, counsels and defense attorneys that help you fight tax-related cases in court.
Indian Revenue Service (IRS) professionals, who hold one of the top administrative jobs in the country, get selected through the UPSC exam and hold immense responsibilities. While tax consultants advice clients on how to do tax planning, and provide assistance to them in filing their tax returns, IRS officers are responsible for collection of direct and indirect taxes, handle administrative work and make tax policies. Typically, IRS officers are appointed as Assistant Commissioners and can rise up to the level of Chief Commissioners. The top honchos may become members or even chairpersons of various government and financial institutions.
The Staff Selection Commission also organises an exam for Tax Assistants, which is considered much easier than the UPSC exam. These lead to appointments at a Group 'C' Non-Gazetted ministerial post in various Commissionerates of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC). Graduates who are 20 to 27 years old and have a data entry speed of 8,000 key depressions per hour are eligible to appear for the exam.
Courses in Taxation
The courses available in the field of taxation range from Certificate Courses in International Taxation to the following:
*Diploma in Accounting & Taxation
*Diploma in Service Tax
*Diploma in Taxation Law
*Advanced Diploma in Taxation
*Bachelor of Commerce in Taxation
*Bachelor of Commerce in Tax Procedure & Practices
*Master of Commerce in Finance and Taxation
*Master of Commerce in Accounting and Taxation
*Post Graduate Diploma in Taxation
*Post Graduate Diploma in Tax Management and Tax Administration
Students who have cleared Class 12 can apply for the graduate-level courses, while students who have completed graduation in relevant streams can apply for the PG-level courses. To do B.Com, one would need to have passed Class 12 with Commerce stream and have subjects like Accounts, Maths and Economics. A B.Com degree is mandatory to take admission in the two-year M.Com course.
Students who do LLB or LLM can also specialise in Taxation Laws and join the field. Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) or an MBA degree with specialization in Finance may also give you an edge in the field.
Tax consultants in India are mostly law graduates or persons who hold professional qualifications like Chartered Accountancy (CA), Company Secretary (CS), or Certified Management Accountancy (CMA) from The Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI). ICAI also offers Finance & Cost Accountancy specialisation to students doing B.Com or M.Com from IGNOU.
Besides theoretical knowledge, practical application of the concepts is very important to be successful as a tax professional. General awareness, creative thinking, ability to work as a part of team, excellent problem solving skills, abundant knowledge about the taxation sector, and complete expertise in Microsoft Excel are just some of the skills people will expect you to have these days.
Taxation Specialisations you can go for
Primarily, a tax professional or consultant is to understand the business of the company or nature of work of the individual, optimize one’s tax position, and identify and mitigate various risk areas. The main aim of a tax consultant is to use his or her technical and legal knowledge for the benefit of his or her clients. Tax practitioners also prepare tax returns of their clients, research their tax and compliance issues, project their tax obligations, and oversee state and central audits. In-house tax professionals may also work as supervisors of the team or train associate accounts on how to handle taxes.
Some of the specialisations popular in the field of taxation are:
*Business tax consultancy: Handles all tax issues business persons grapple with on a day-to-day basis. You might also function as a tax and finance department for your clients.
*Income tax consultancy: Helps people in filing income tax returns. The clients may range from individuals to corporate.
*Property tax consultancy: Requires expertise in property tax rules and regulations to handle cases related to agricultural lands, residential and commercial properties etc.
*Sales tax consultancy: Requires proficiency in VAT and sales tax related issues. You may offer information, advice or clarification to your clients as a sales tax consultant.
Best Colleges for Taxation-related Courses
*Balaji Law College, Pune, Maharashtra
*Bharati Vidyapeeth New Law College, Pune, Maharashtra
*D.A.V. Centenary College, Faridabad, Haryana
*Guru Nanak Dev University, Faculty of Economics and Business, Amritsar, Punjab
*India Law Society, Law College, Pune, Maharashtra
*Indira Gandhi Government College, Kurukshetra, Haryana
*Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Bhawan, New Delhi, Delhi
*Kishichand Chellaram Law College, Mumbai, Maharashtra
*M.S. Bhagat and C.S. Sonawala Law College, Nadiad, Gujarat
*Nagpur College of Taxation, Nagpur, Maharashtra
*Ness Wadia College of Commerce, Pune, Maharashtra
*Oxford College of Business Management, Bangalore, Karnataka
*Sanlok Institute of Management & Information Technology, Gurgaon, Haryana
*St. Peter's College, Ernakulam, Kerala
*St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, West Bengal
*Symbiosis Law School, Pune, Maharashtra
*University of Madras Faculty of Law, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
*University of Mumbai, Mumbai, Maharashtra
*University of Pune Faculty of Commerce, Pune, Maharashtra
Some of the institutes popular with those who want to join taxation careers are:
*ACCA Global: This international organisation offers Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT).
*Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT), Thiruvanantha- puram, Kerala: It offers Diploma in Sales Taxation and PG Diploma in Taxation. GIFT has signed MOUs with several national-level academic institutions like National Law School of India University, Bangalore and The Tamilnadu Dr Ambedkar Law University, Chennai.
*Indian Institute of Taxation, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala: It offers PG Diploma in Taxation Laws through correspondence.
*Institute of International Trade & Tax Studies (IITT), Chennai: It offers online classes in Customs & Foreign Trade Policy. The duration of the Certificate course is 90 days.
*Institute of Professional Accountants (IPA), Delhi: It offers Certificate & Diploma in Taxation Laws through regular and correspondence modes.
*Taxation Programs offered by KPMG India through NIIT Imperia: Meant for accountants, attorneys, financial advisors, CA, CS etc., the Diploma in Taxation program they offer give an in-depth exposure to all aspects of taxation in India.
Government jobs in the field of taxation are quite well-paid and offer immense stability. Otherwise too, tax professionals often find stable and well-paid jobs in accounts departments of corporate houses or CA firms.
Tax consultancy come with great rewards too. A beginner in the field easily earns around Rs 3 lakh to 5 lakh per annum but the income keeps increasing with one’s qualifications and experience.
(The author is a columnist. email firstname.lastname@example.org)