Tax adviser

Salary and conditions

  • Range of typical graduate starting salaries: £20,000 – £32,000.
  • Newly qualified chartered tax advisers (CTAs) can expect a salary in the range of £26,000 to £37,000.
  • Subsequent salary progression for CTAs is in the range of £30,000 to £55,000 and at management level between £50,000 to £100,000, with the potential for some principal/technical directors to earn up to £150,000.
  • Salaries vary widely depending on employer, type of specialization and area of the country. Salaries are towards the higher end of the scale in London and the South East.
  • Typical benefits packages include 30 days’ holiday, pension and private medical insurance.
  • Working hours are mainly 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, possibly with some extra hours and work at weekends during busy times such as end of the tax year. Some firms have introduced flexible working hours. Working with private clients may involve home visits, sometimes out of hours.
  • Work is often in a team environment.
  • Once qualified, and with several years’ experience, self-employment is possible. Self-employed tax advisers usually deal with individuals, self-employed traders, partnerships and small companies.
  • Career breaks and part-time work are commonplace.
  • The majority of trainee opportunities are in London and other major cities, though opportunities exist throughout the UK.
  • The work involves working to deadlines, which are usually absolute as tax return deadlines are non-negotiable.
  • Local travel within a working day is normal for client visits.
  • Absence from home at night and overseas travel are occasionally needed and more likely for senior managers. There may be opportunities to work overseas for a multinational company or for a UK-based company with offices abroad.

Job description

A tax adviser uses their knowledge of tax legislation to provide advisory and consultancy services to clients, ensuring that they pay their taxes in the most efficient way and benefit from any tax advantages and exemptions. They keep up to date with changing tax laws and explain complicated legislation and its implications to their clients, in simple terms.

They create tax strategies for their clients and plan their financial futures. They carry out detailed computations to calculate tax liability, submit tax returns by the relevant deadline and deal with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)  on behalf of their clients. Some also offer other accountancy services.

The work is highly detailed and complex and can be challenging and rewarding. Clients can include large and small companies, partnerships, trusts and individuals.

Typical work activities

There are two main areas of work:

  • Tax planning – staying abreast of changes in tax law and structuring clients’ affairs lawfully to minimise future tax liabilities. Tax planning is normally carried out by tax professionals operating within an accountancy practice or lawyers working within law firms.
  • Tax compliance – ensuring a client meets all tax obligations by preparing and submitting tax returns, tax computations and any other necessary forms. Dealing with tax authorities. This work is usually undertaken by accountancy practices.

Initially a graduate within a tax advisory role career might focus on compliance activities, for example, completing tax returns and calculating amount payable, with movement towards consultancy and specialisation as their career develops.

The work of a tax adviser will depend on the nature and size of the employer. Larger accountancy firms tend to adopt a structure that permits greater specialisation. For example, new graduates in large organisations may be employed to undertake research about a particular specialist area on behalf of more experienced colleagues.

Typical work activities include:

  • researching, analysing and interpreting changing tax legislation;
  • meeting with clients and collating information;
  • working with tax law and revenue provisions;
  • preparing and submitting compliance (tax) returns;
  • liaising and negotiating with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC);
  • providing consultancy services to high value private clients;
  • advising on tax liabilities;
  • establishing and structuring family trusts;
  • estate planning and advising on tax residence and domicile matters;
  • providing guidance on indirect taxation issues such as VAT, customs planning and environmental taxes.

Some self-employed tax advisers also offer their clients a range of accountancy services, such as bookkeeping, payroll and VAT.

Entry requirements

Graduates in any discipline can qualify as a tax adviser. However, the following degree subject areas may increase your chances:

  • accountancy and finance;
  • business/management;
  • economics;
  • law;
  • mathematics/statistics.