Becoming a Tax Specialist in South Africa
South Africa’s latest February 2018 Budget Speech announced a tax hike in VAT of one percentage from 14% to 15% to reduce the country’s alarming deficit. In the light of the recent tax developments, let us investigate the important role, education and career requirements of tax specialists.
Tax specialists have a specific role in a country’s economy, servicing either the regulatory government bodies, e.g. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) or working for accounting practices.
In a nutshell, tax specialists are responsible for ensuring the effective tax payments to governments from both individual and businesses. Duties performed may include, but are not limited to reviewing and filing tax returns, calculating tax deductions, and consulting on tax policies and regulations.
A successful career in this industry will require candidates to possess the necessary educational background and skills.
Below is some useful advice if you are considering specialising in tax, whether you are already working in accounting or want to change careers.
Complete an accounting degree. A Bachelor’s Degree in accounting offers a good grasp of important concepts in business management, business law, financial accounting, marketing and strategic management – all mandatory in a tax environment.
Take advantage of accounting courses as tax specialists position may require applicants to meet specific academic criteria, and additional courses may be necessary.
Follow-up accounting studies with formal training. Gain tax knowledge and understand accounting principles by working in the field with current tax professionals.
On-the-job training in an accounting or tax practice is recommended to familiarise further with the tax code and latest regulatory frameworks and software on the market. Apprenticeship programs may also be available.
Keep up to date with tax laws and regulations. You need to have a good understanding of tax basics, tax law, and current tax regulations (Tax Administration Act).
Additional courses in tax law and a formal tax apprenticeship should be enough to get you there. Keeping up with changes in tax laws should not be ignored.
Register with the regulatory body (SARS). Tax practitioners should register with the relevant regulatory body (SARS). See more info about the registration process here.
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