Many advisers will tread the well-worn path towards specialisation in their careers. However, even as specialists, many also find themselves acting as a ‘jack of all trades’ on occasion, when they find the area they’re advising on touches on areas of tax that they don’t deal with on a regular basis.
The Snapshot Series, launched in March 2018, was developed with this in mind and provides at-a-glance coverage of key tax facts, figures and formulas across 15 tax topics, giving advisers the ability to stay across the fundamentals of areas they may not deal with daily.
Here we speak with the author of the series, The Tax Institute’s own Professor Robert (Bob) Deutsch CTA, about the development of this new member benefit.
“The idea for this series has been floating around in my head for about 10 years," Bob said, "but there was never an appropriate forum to move it forward until now. The impetus arose from my own experience when trying to conquer a new topic in tax – I could never find a good helicopter-style view of the whole subject area – I would need to read entire chapters to get a good feel for the subject. This is designed to aid in that process, speeding things along, but also serving as a source to refer back to later.”
Bob Deutsch CTA
The 15 guides in the series cover the basics of Australia’s taxation system, looking at topics like income tax, GST, superannuation and trusts, as well as covering more niche concepts such as trading stock, reviews and appeals, and social security.
“The structure of the set of guides is fairly simple – it follows what you’d expect to find in most textbooks covering our tax system, while some of the topics, especially later ones in the series, become more and more specific. As to how the series develops beyond what’s planned, that will depend on feedback from our members and demand for further topics – for example, research and development could be looked at as a topic in its own right if there was sufficient demand.”
Reining Bob in for a moment, it seems wise to remind him of just how much work has gone into the series, as he himself said “It has taken many more man hours than I had anticipated. It reminds me of Winston Churchill’s famous line ‘I would have liked to send you a shorter letter but I did not have the time’”.
Each guide is designed to capture the need-to-know information in a given topic area in a concise manner, while also going beyond the basics to succinctly explain key concepts and list relevant figures and formulas.
“In producing these guides, I always kept in mind the practitioner who is new or newish to the particular subject area," Bob said. "Students are an obvious candidate, and those just starting out in tax. But I do think that they will also be of great value to more experienced practitioners who don’t necessarily have a holistic view of the area they find themselves involved in.
“For example, take someone who is looking at a client and examining whether the client is a resident of Australia for tax purposes. They might know the relevant issues in the context of that particular issue but not really understand how the whole international tax system hangs together and why it is important to resolve the residency issue. The International Tax Snapshot would help with that.”
“I have tried to structure each guide using a flow chart concept moving logically from step one to step two and so on, always conscious of keeping the audience in the loop, so to speak, so I try not to assume too much knowledge.”
Bob is The Tax Institute's Senior Tax Counsel and also recently served as a Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. For over 20 years he was a Professor in Taxation Law at the University of New South Wales, is experienced as a solicitor with a major national law firm, as an independent barrister, and as a director with a major accounting firm.
Members of The Tax Institute receive the first four guides in the Snapshot Series; Income tax - resident individuals; GST - the basics; The Australian tax system; and International tax - the basics, free with their member journal, Taxation in Australia, beginning in April 2018.
Each guide is available for individual purchase, or as a full set of all 15. You can find out more on our website.