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February 29, 2024

What Can You Expect from a Career in Tax in Canada?

Interested in a career in Canadian tax? Understanding the requirements of a career as a tax accountant can help you decide whether this career is right for you.

Tax in a Glance

As a tax expert in Canada, you’ll certainly hunt down creative solutions to some surprising problems. Tax is an unavoidable fact of life – it affects every person, company, and organization. Everyone wants to save money on their tax bill, and everyone wishes someone else would do the paperwork for them. That's where tax professionals come in.

People employ tax accountants to:

  • Know tax law.
  • Find creative ways to save money.
  • Do all the calculations.
  • Do the paperwork.
  • Explain what they're doing in simple terms.

What Can You Expect from a Career in Canadian Tax?

Careers in tax start with a training office, which can be a professional firm in accountancy or law, commerce, and industry, or CRA. Once qualified your career path can take many different directions. You can specialize in a particular branch of taxation, such as advising companies on corporate tax, HST/GST, and indirect taxes or employment tax. You can advise individuals by becoming a personal tax specialist. You can work as a tax adviser on your own, with a professional firm, with a business, or for the Government.

A career in tax offers great flexibility. It is about understanding new legislation and keeping abreast of changes, looking for new ways to effectively apply new legislation, and being a creative thinker.  It’s about helping businesses and individuals achieve their commercial or family goals and helping them comply with the tax requirements in Canada and potentially across borders. 

What Do Tax Accountants Do?

Here are the primary duties and responsibilities of tax accountants in Canada:

  • inform clients of the tax preparation process
  • collect financial records and other taxable income sources.
  • enter income sources into a CRA-approved software or database.
  • interpret federal and provincial tax laws.
  • determine deductions and check calculations for accuracy.
  • process billing for time spent processing tax returns.
  • representing clients with tax processing agencies

What types of firms can you work for?

Accountancy firms

These firms usually offer their clients full accountancy services, including audit, risk management, and corporate finance. They range from medium to large.

Tax advice firms

Often boutiques and specialists, focus on tax. They may cater to companies or individuals.

In-house

Some companies have in-house tax professionals to handle their own taxes. Depending on the company’s size, the tax department could be one person, twenty or hundreds.

Careers in tax: Different Roles Explained

A tax role has two main parts: compliance and consultancy.

Compliance

Compliance is the nitty-gritty of tax – the paperwork. One key compliance job is to complete your client’s tax return according to the current regulations and file it on time. Depending on your specialism, you might do calculations, accounting, and paperwork for things like setting up family trusts or estate planning. At the beginning of your career, you can expect to focus on compliance while you learn the ropes.

Consultancy

Consultancy is the problem-solving side of the tax business. Tax advisors make sure their clients’ finances are tax-efficient (simply put, they find ways for their clients to pay the minimum tax possible). It means knowing tax regulations inside out and being able to take advantage of all the available tax structures, tax breaks, and loopholes. This is what you’ll focus on as a qualified tax advisor.

There are three main tax areas:

  • Corporate tax – managing tax for companies or corporations. There are specialisms within this, such as transfer pricing.
  • Personal tax – managing tax for individuals. Specialisms include estate planning and high-net-worth individuals.
  • Indirect tax – managing tax on goods and services, such as HST/GST on products. This is different from tax on personal income or company profits.

Range of Work to Build Tax Accounting Career

The range of work will vary according to the type of firm and the area. Some tax trainees in a professional services firm start with preparing tax returns for individuals or companies. They will receive training in tax concepts and tax law, as well as accountancy concepts and how to use tax return software.  Then, under supervision, progress on to: 

  • Meet clients as part of the tax team 
  • Carry out tax research and summarise findings 
  • Analysis of data  
  • Respond to CRA correspondence and assist with inquiries 
  • Liaise with international advisers as part of a project on advising on international tax issues
  • Preparation of tax accounting calculations and tax notes for accounts and reporting 
  • Help undertake due diligence work on a potential acquisition
  • Study for professional qualifications

Benefits of a Career in Tax in Canada

  • Rapid changing industry – tax law is updated every year
  • Everyone is subject to taxes – individuals and businesses all require advice and support from tax professionals in Canada.  
  • The increasingly culturally diverse population of tax professionals are entering the field and climbing their own ladder of success. 

Do You Need to Have Studied Accountancy or Taxation Before Starting?

No! Most new tax advisers have not studied accountancy, law, or tax and receive full training from their employer. Professional services firms recruit school leavers with A levels or equivalent, as well as those with a degree.  Individuals training at a law firm/organization will need a law degree or legal qualification.

Are Tax Accountants the Same as Regular Accountants?

While they both manage finances, tax accountants specifically manage their clients' taxes while regular accountants focus on general subjects. You may interact with other specialized accountants, such as management accountants, auditors, and financial advisors. Some people start as general accountants and eventually specialize in taxes.

What Careers Can a Tax Accountant in Canada Advance Into?

Tax preparers can advance their careers into roles such as chartered accountant, tax attorney, or certified public accountant (CPA). Transitioning into these roles typically requires you to gain more experience and educational qualifications. Consider your career goals before you make your next career move.

Do Tax Accountants in Canada only Work During Tax Season?

Your workload may increase during tax season, but tax accountants work all year round because your client regularly makes purchases and investments. Every decision they make could influence their taxes, so you'll advise them on maximizing their credits and deductions. Additionally, some customers make quarterly tax payments throughout the year instead of paying all at once.

Skills of Tomorrow’s Taxation Professional

Tomorrow’s tax specialist will be a fusion of being a strategic business advisor with high commercial awareness, a diplomat, an analyst, and a savvy technologist. Why?  

Just as tax is rapidly evolving with digitalization, disruptive forces, and globalization, the skill set of the tax professional will also transform.  

As well as being able to explain complex regulations, meet deadlines, and find creative solutions to problems, tomorrow’s tax professionals will need to analyze data in real time. The development of real-time tax dashboards and visualization techniques now means tax professionals can offer game-changing opportunities like never before.  

What next?

If you think a career in tax is for you, Reach out to Get Trained Get Hired to book a free 30-minute career counseling meeting. At Get Trained Get Hired we provide you with the necessary training to learn practical skills to become an accountant. Our training is based on practical real-life cases. After the training, we work on your resume and try to place you in accounting firms through our network. You will also get access to like-minded individuals who are looking for jobs through our WhatsApp group. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. Or call us at 647-870-6986.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not consider your situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from professionals. Salman Rundhawa and Gettrainedgethired.com will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.

Author

Salman Rundhawa

Salman has a strong desire to help others succeed and believe in passing on the knowledge. He likes to mentor others and wish to play part in other people success.
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