After completing a degree in Accounting and Financial Management I decided to take a break from studying and get out and see the world.
After two years travelling and working abroad, I returned back to the UK and took a job in an accounts department of a small firm. I worked there for a further two years and then I decided that I wanted to put my degree to better use.
I knew my interest didn’t lie in a career in straight accountancy and so I started to apply for trainee jobs in tax.
Career in tax
A career in tax interested me as it was technical, offered variety and the chance to obtain one of the most sought after professional qualifications.
In March 2008 I got a job with Grant Thornton UK LLP, in their National Tax Investigations department, based in the Birmingham office. I passed the ATT exams in May 2010 taking distinctions in three papers and I completed my CTA exams in November 2010, taking the Gilbert Burr medal for the highest mark on the Owner Managed Business advisory paper.
In order to achieve these qualifications I attended courses run by professional tax trainers and various in house training modules. These included introduction courses in personal tax, corporate tax and capital gains tax.
Now I’m qualified I’m focusing more on other areas I need to improve on, such as giving presentations to intermediaries and becoming more confident when dealing with clients.
I’m also proud of being part of the team that won the 2010 LexisNexis Taxation Award for ‘Best tax investigations team’.
Due to the tax discipline I work in my work is very varied; I help clients who find themselves under investigation from HM Revenue & Customs. I have experience of working with clients who are subject to aspect and full enquiries including high level enquiries under Code of Practice 8 or 9. I’ve found these responsibilities have been a good way to expand my experience and knowledge across all taxes.
My main responsibilities
Working with clients who are under investigation under Code of Practice 9 ‘Civil investigations into Cases of Suspected Serious Fraud’.
This type of investigation is all encompassing and explores every aspect of a client’s tax affairs, with an in depth review of their affairs. This invariably involves a good working relationship with the clients and production of a lengthy report.
This type of investigation enables you to focus in on and improve your client facing skills as you become far more comfortable dealing with clients on a regular basis and sometimes exposes you to difficult situations as the client can find the process undertaken quite intrusive. My job is to ensure that the disclosure produced is complete and accurate and help bring a swift conclusion to the enquiry.
The majority of aspect enquiries I have worked on have been under HM Revenue & Customs Code of Practice 8 ‘Cases where Civil Investigation of Fraud procedures are not used’ (COP8). These investigations tend to be more technical in nature and are narrowed to specific issues or areas of concern.
Investigations under COP8 require specialist expertise in the area under enquiry and this gives me a great opportunity to work with professionals in other tax disciplines and gain exposure to more technically detailed areas of tax.
Challenges to tax planning schemes tend to be conducted under COP8 and again this gives me an opportunity to review and understand more technically complex tax planning.
Offshore disclosure amnesties have been made available in recent years, the most recent being the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility and some of my work involves handling cases related to these.
My role is to produce a disclosure report on behalf of the client to be submitted to HM Revenue & Customs to bring the clients UK tax affairs up to date.
This involves speaking to clients to obtain information from them to ascertain their tax liability, usually liaising with offshore banks to obtain relevant documentation, calculation of the tax, interest and penalties due.
Through all types of investigations and enquiries, the majority of clients I have dealt with have some form of offshore structure to their tax affairs, be it foreign companies, trusts or securities.
When reviewing the clients’ affairs it is necessary to liaise with solicitors, trust companies and various financial institutions to gain a full understanding of the structure of the clients’ affairs and be in a position to respond to the queries being raised by HM Revenue & Customs.