Your next tax job might not have a tax in the title


What did you want to become when you were little?

Tsar of sanctions?

The latter was probably not on the list. But maybe that will be in the future. Increasingly, companies and practices are creating positions that may not have existed a few years or even months ago.

There is always a tax angle

Consider the response to the war in Ukraine. In a conversation with Bloomberg Tax this week, Kate Barton, EY’s global vice president, noted that clients are looking for advice not only on how to leave Russia, but also on how to manage ongoing business relationships. in this region of the world. Companies are increasingly looking for people who can take on newly created roles, such as a “sanctions czar”, and these are often tax-related. This makes sense because much of the outcome is tied to financials, as well as tax rules and treaties that are typically the purview of tax departments.

The same goes for the OECD’s inclusive framework on BEPS, or base erosion and profit shifting. In October 2021, nearly 140 countries agreed to enter into a global tax agreement. However, reaching agreement on the details of this agreement is proving complicated, as companies increasingly seek to understand how these negotiations might impact their bottom line. And not all companies are ready to deal with additional reporting demands. This will likely require increased modernization efforts, Barton says. And the responsibility for making that happen could fall to those who probably need it most: the tax and accounting departments.

It’s not just international issues that require a second look. Tax services have played a vital role in many US-focused businesses during the pandemic. Businesses of all sizes have relied on tax and accounting professionals to provide detailed information on pandemic relief efforts, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, and credit Employee Retention Tax, or ERC. This is in addition to coordinating cross-border payroll and tax issues raised by an increasing number of remote workers, an issue that is not going away anytime soon.

And what about the supply chain? Empty shelves and long waits for essentials frustrate consumers. This requires a different approach from companies, especially those that previously relied on a single hub or manufacturing line. During our conversation, Barton noted that businesses find regional approaches to be more viable, so that if one region goes down, you can cover it from another area. It’s a different approach to what most of us learned in ECON101, which was that a single supply chain was the most efficient.

It’s clear that companies are looking for timely and targeted advice. So, will a supply chain guru be the next big role to fill? A master of remote work? A reporting authority?

And is this pivot a bit exaggerated?

Barton doesn’t think so. “Forward-looking tax officials should embrace this,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t think there’s a move you can make in the business without it having tax consequences.”

This is good news for tax professionals: we are in demand. But it also means that more and more, it makes sense to choose a specialty. And specialties can vary by practice area, industry, or geography. So how do we make the leap?


One of the easiest ways to delve into a specialty is to earn a degree. Some Master of Laws (LLM) programs in taxation also offer certificates in areas such as wealth management, international taxation, and employee benefits. And where schools don’t offer programs, accounting and legal firms help develop programs. For example, EY, in association with Hult International Business School in the UK, offers a master’s degree in sustainability and, according to Barton, the company is working with schools in the US to offer more undergraduate courses in sustainability. sustainable development.


If a new degree isn’t in the cards, there’s still room to learn and develop new skills. Many accounting and local firms offer in-house training opportunities. If not, or if your potential area of ​​interest is a bit off the beaten path, consider enrolling in a continuing education course. These are often taught by local professionals working in the field and offer real-world experience and the occasional war story – these are the most fun. Recently, popular course titles have focused on promising tax areas such as cryptocurrency, NFTs, and automation.


If you see a hole in a training area, why not step in? It’s a great opportunity to prove your worth, even if it takes a bit of on-the-job learning. And if circumstances force companies to tackle new initiatives or develop new strategies, getting involved early on can be a real plus. Barton says it makes sense to be tied while the business is in the planning phase because “you can influence that outcome and make it the best.”

Are we asking too much?

Even as businesses and corporations scramble to acquire talent, many in the tax and legal professions worry about burnout. It’s important to try to balance well-being with taking on new responsibilities and meeting new challenges, but how?

Flexibility and creativity will be crucial. While some businesses and businesses are going completely virtual, many are taking a hybrid approach that only requires spending a few days a week in the office. Others are thinking outside the box: Barton says she recently heard of “working from anywhere in August,” with companies allowing employees to work from a variety of locations.

Reinvent the future

The next challenge may well be to rethink what the workforce might look like. Barton was delighted that EY had been able to meet customer expectations during the pandemic, proving they could offer flexibility to employees and be results-oriented. It’s a trend I think we’ll see in many workplaces – as long as the job is done and the customers are happy, the details of getting there may not be as important.

As for work? It’s always evolving, one of the best parts of working in tax. There are not two days, not two clients, not two identical cases. The key is to make sure that you are also ready and willing to change.

This is a regular column from Kelly Phillips Erb, the Taxgirl. Erb offers commentary on the latest tax news, tax law and tax policy. Look for Erb’s column each week in Bloomberg Tax and follow her on Twitter at @taxgirl.


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