How to Become a Tax Manager

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Tax manager jobs are popular because they involve significant exposure to senior stakeholders. An in-house tax manager is primarily responsible for devising, implementing and overseeing the tax plan for a business.

But what else does a tax manager do and what skills do you need to become one?


The role of a tax manager

A tax manager’s role consists of a range of duties, among these is preparing necessary government tax documents, ensuring these are completely accurate, and providing solutions to any tax-related issues that arise. Because these responsibilities are so vital, tax managers are regarded as trusted advisors to senior management within their business.

What responsibilities are typical?

You will be advising people from across the business, some of them very senior, so you’ll need to be credible and have some gravitas about you. Tax managers generally have a wide-ranging remit. However, typical responsibilities can include:

  • Managing compliance with tax regulation and deliver tax value
  • Setting and communicating tax risk strategy and tax policies across the business
  • Ensuring all corporate tax compliance requirements are met
  • Participating in year-end reporting
  • Assessing the impact of changes in tax law and accounting principles on the business
  • Advising the business on strategic tax risk issues and ensuring compliance with tax law.

What expertise is required?

Most employers look for someone who is qualified (i.e. ACCA/ACA or overseas equivalent) and who has also gained subsequent experience in-house. You will also need significant experience of tax laws and regulations with strong tax accounting skills (in the UK, GAAP and IFRS). On a personal level, excellent stakeholder management skills are vital.

Case study: Advice from a European tax manager

Katie Dominey has worked in tax for 13 years both in the UK and Australia and is now European tax manager at Eurosports Holdings. We asked her what her job involves and what she thinks it takes to succeed.

What are your main responsibilities?

I am responsible for identifying and mitigating risk and escalating any relevant issues to the Board, shareholders and my CFO, as well as providing commercial solutions to highly technical tax legislation. Generally, this means considering the tax implications associated with transactions so that the Board can then decide whether to go forward with them or not.

What skills do you think are important for this role?

An excellent understanding of business needs and an outcome-focused approach is essential. I work closely with both operational and commercial teams to ensure I am completely clear on the objectives of the company at any given point in time. A key part of this is communication - you need to have a thorough understanding of the needs of your stakeholders to be able to help them effectively. You also need to be highly organised.

How important is technical knowledge?

Strong technical knowledge is very important. Pro-activity is absolutely key as tax legislation changes regularly. You need to actively seek out the latest developments by reading the tax trade press, carefully using professional advisors and/or speaking to shareholder contacts. Most important of all is the ability to relay this technical knowledge to other people in the business who are not from a tax background.

I like that tax is detail focused and that it gives me ‘a seat at the table’ during group transactions. Both the CEO and CFO actively seek out my advice and respect my opinion.

What advice would you give to an aspiring tax professional?

Relationships are key. Commerciality is becoming so important so talk to and build relationships with both your commercial and operational teams. This helps you gain a good grasp of what’s actually going on in the business and ultimately make yourself more valuable.  

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