When the end of the financial year rolls around, some individuals could really find themselves at a loss without the help of personal tax experts!
Up close and personal with personal tax
There are lots of different types of tax. Personal tax generally refers to income tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax (the tax payable when you sell or pass on an asset), pension schemes, investments and tax-free savings. Every year, HMRC requests that individuals submit financial information on the various types of assets, income and profits they possess (or have sold) in the form of a tax return to calculate the tax due and charge accordingly.
What could I do in personal tax?
There are two main branches within personal tax roles: advisory and preparation of tax returns. Qualified accountants in this area will often perform a blend of both, working on a portfolio of clients.
Firstly, personal tax accountants need to able to listen carefully to the client’s situation and inform them of what tax issues they need to consider, i.e. what types of tax they are obliged to pay. This requires expertise in tax compliance and the ability to communicate the information to the client in a way that’s easy to understand.
The preparation branch of this area is all about helping clients to prepare their tax returns. This involves working through their financial information for the tax year (which runs April to April), namely income, profit and expenses and assets, which could otherwise be a bit of a nightmarish experience for them on their own!
Some accountants in personal tax may work with wealthy individuals (sometimes executives or celebrities) with very high incomes from numerous sources. Work with this type of client could involve guidance and calculations for taxation regarding the buying and selling of property or securities amongst a whole variety of other tax issues. These cases can get pretty complicated!
The work requires high numerical ability and organisation. Personal Tax Seniors often have to manage large portfolios and must be on the ball with each client. The clients place their trust in the accountant to give the right advice and submit an accurate and correct tax return. If it’s incorrect, the client could run into problems later with HMRC... not desirable! The end of the financial year is an exceptionally busy time for accountants in personal tax: this is when all tax returns have to be submitted to HMRC.
Employers and salaries
The majority of people working in personal tax work for accountancy firms. Some work on a self-employed basis, though substantial experience is often necessary in order to go it alone in this industry. Aspiring accountants can develop this specialism through an apprenticeship or graduate scheme.
Salaries vary greatly depending on level of experience, location (jobs in London tend to be better paid, though there are very good salaries on offer across the country) and the types of portfolios the position involves. Typically they range from £20,000 to £60,000; some managerial roles can exceed £80,000