How to become a tax consultant: plus duties and skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Tax consultants play a major role in the financial decision-making of an organisation. They help individuals and businesses identify the appropriate tax amount applicable to them and process and file their tax returns. If you want to become a tax consultant, knowing the steps to take and a tax consultant's responsibilities can help you make an informed decision. In this article, we discuss what a tax consultant is, how to become a tax consultant, the duties of the role and the skills you may develop to succeed in this profession.

What is a tax consultant?

A tax consultant is a trained financial expert who advises individuals and companies on tax-related matters. They use their knowledge of tax law to consult and advise their clients to comply with tax legislation. They also provide their clients with advisory services on investments and how to reduce their tax liabilities and take advantage of tax benefits and exemptions. Tax consultants also stay updated with changing tax rules and regulations to keep their clients informed and ensure they abide by standard tax regulations.

Depending on the organisation, tax consultants may work in tax compliance or consultancy roles. Tax compliance tasks include helping the company meet its tax obligations and ensuring its reports are correct and comply with financial rules and regulations. In a tax consultancy role, consultants research how best to organise the client's tax matters to minimise their total tax requirement.

Related: How to get a chartered tax adviser qualification in the UK

How to become a tax consultant

Below is a guide on how to become a tax consultant:

1. Earn a degree

Getting a degree is one of the first steps to becoming a tax consultant. The entry requirements include 4 to 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), any equivalent in English and maths, or 2 to 3 A levels or any equivalent for a degree. While graduates of any field can become tax consultants, employers often prefer candidates with degrees in economics, mathematics, business and management, law and accountancy or finance.

Some employers may also specify a preference for graduates with minimum second-class upper, specific UCAS points in their GCSE and A level, as this helps them assess the candidate's consistency in academic performance. Additionally, completing a degree programme helps to broaden your knowledge, professional network, skills and experience.

2. Apply for an apprenticeship

It's possible to become a tax consultant without a university degree. You can apply for an apprenticeship or a tax trainee position in a tax company. The higher apprenticeships applicable to the field of tax consultation are Accountancy or Taxation Professional and Professional Accountancy or Taxation Technician.

The entry requirement for these is 4 to 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and an A level or equivalent if you're applying for a degree apprenticeship. Some students choose to commence an apprenticeship in their final year of university, while others prefer to do so after completing their degree programme.

Read more: What are apprenticeship benefits? (Plus eligibility)

3. Direct or indirect application

You can become a tax consultant by applying directly to employers in accountant or solicitor companies. Consider applying to organisations in the commerce industry or an organisation's in-house accounting department by demonstrating that you have the relevant skills and experience to perform the duties of a tax consultant. When employed, you can apply to qualify for Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) membership. If successful, you can then sit the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) examination from the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT).

Alternatively, you could make indirect applications to professionals in fields such as law or accountancy. Candidates who follow this route are typically professional accountants, barristers or solicitors who have already earned certification from their relevant professional bodies and wish to transfer to the tax consultation industry. These professionals can also achieve CIOT certification, qualifying them to become tax consultants after sitting and passing the CTA examination.

4. Get experience

It's essential to gain relevant professional experience in your journey to becoming a tax consultant, as this exposes you to the role's responsibilities and improves your skills. Gaining experience is also crucial, as employers consider this important, even for entry-level positions. You could work as an assistant in a chartered accountancy company or a financial or consulting services company as a trainee consultant.

You could also consider applying to a professional services company as an apprentice or trainee or visit your university's career services to help connect you to finance companies that can help you gain work experience.

Read more: Work experience: definition, importance and tips

5. Start your practice or apply for a job

After you've earned a degree and gained certifications and experience, you can start working with clients by creating in private practice as a tax consultant. Alternatively, you might choose to apply for a tax consultant position at this stage in your career. If you decide to apply for tax consultation jobs, several options are available, including working for private corporations, financial, law, public accounting or tax consulting companies or in the government's public sector.

Duties of a tax consultant

Here are some responsibilities a tax consultant might perform:

  • communicating and negotiating with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on a client's behalf

  • calculating and evaluating the tax liabilities of clients

  • assessing, processing and preparing clients' tax benefits and returns

  • staying informed of tax rules and regulations and interpreting any changes pertaining to clients

  • using apps and software to collate and protect clients' private financial information

  • providing counselling on tax and non-tax related matters, such as environmental tax, custom planning and VAT

  • arranging meetings with clients to plan their financial future or financial situations

  • examining clients' tax records and minimising their tax liability where possible

  • collating data on clients' financial information and producing reports

  • computing, preparing and submitting tax compliance information on clients' behalf within deadlines

Related: How to become a tax accountant

Skills of a tax consultant

Here are some skills you can learn for success as a tax consultant:

Accuracy and attention to detail

Tax consultants require excellent attention to detail when assessing clients' investment reports and preparing financial documents like tax returns to avoid oversights. Violations or non-compliance with taxation regulations might cause clients to lose money, thereby attracting penalties. Attention to detail helps you review information and documents thoroughly to accurately spot errors or inconsistencies.

Mathematical proficiency

Tax preparation involves working with numbers and calculations. Therefore, a tax consultant requires a solid understanding of mathematics, economics and finance. It's also essential to understand how to calculate interests and percentages, make projections and balance profit and loss accounts.

Communication skills

Taxation involves complex tax information and concepts. Tax consultants help clients understand their tax liabilities, best investment options and the significance of various tax strategies. Therefore, tax consultants have excellent verbal and written communication skills to communicate such information to employers or clients with little financial literacy in a manner they can understand.

Read more: What are communication skills?

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills help an individual identify the source of a problem and determine the best way to solve it. Companies prefer tax consultants who can use their problem-solving skills to think strategically and analytically. A successful tax consultant utilises their investment and tax law knowledge to advise clients on the best path to resolving their financial issues and burdens. Your ability to offer the best solution to your clients' financial matters can differentiate you as a tax consultant.

Computer skills

Tax consultants typically access accounting and financial analysis software and programs to ensure accuracy and transparency in financial reports. They usually require significant knowledge of computers to navigate this software and ensure they can present all relevant reports and records. Tax consultants also use spreadsheets, tax preparation, and filing tools, all of which require proficiency in software and technology.

Read more: Computer skills: definitions and examples

Open to constructive feedback

Tax consultants often receive feedback from clients, employers and colleagues. Sometimes, this may also appear as constructive criticism. An efficient tax consultant is open to suggestions and constructive feedback that can help them grow and develop professionally. The best way to understand feedback is to ask questions, listen intently and conduct self-examination. Feedback promotes personal and team improvement and also ensures organisational growth.

Client management skills

Client management skills include supervising and coordinating an organisation's interactions with current and prospective clients. A successful tax consultant can identify clients' needs and requests. They take active steps to ensure client satisfaction, provide consistent updates, nurture a personal relationship, and offer sound advice. Tax consultants provide effective services by capturing and securely recording their clients' vital information, such as contact details and tax and financial information.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles