4 secrets to sailing through disruption in tax

Tax expert reveals his secrets to managing change and disruption.

Andy Milidoni, Partner at Johnson Winter & Slattery and CTA3 Advisory lecturer at The Tax Institute, has been practicing tax for almost 20 years across all aspects of revenue, law and trusts; including indirect and direct taxes, GST, stamp duty, land taxes, as well as income tax and international tax.

Legislation. Regulatory changes. Digital transformation. Globalisation.

It’s clear that tax is an evolving profession.

Andy reveals four secrets to managing that change and disruption.

1. Be on top of legislation
Let’s face it – the law is never static; it is always changing, being interpreted or redefined, as regulators strive, with varying degrees of success, to ensure that the law constantly reflects changes in society itself.

“First of all, you do need to be on top of recent developments; not only the legislative requirements, but also case law,” says Andy.

But having said that, he says that if you commit to a process of identifying issues, understanding law, understanding the facts and coming up with conclusions, it can help you get to the answer. It’s a process that works for him.

Despite the fact that the upcoming federal election has been dubbed the “tax election”, Andy says there is no crystal ball with regulation or politics.

“The regulatory risk of any imminent tax changes that might be proposed by one side of politics is always a challenge. And there are so many ‘ifs’ that go into whether or not those things come to fruition.

“The big ‘if’ is whether that particular side of politics wins an election, and then the next variable is whether they actually are able to get that legislative program through.”

Andy explains that this is problematic because tax professionals are trying to structure and prepare themselves not just for the next six months but in some cases for the next five or 10 years. To try to advise clients when you know that certain risks are on the horizon, be that legislative risk or case law risk, or the tax office taking a different view, it is always a challenge.

“For practitioners, I think the best that you can do is to highlight the issue,” advises Andy.

If the issue can be managed, Andy says practitioners should proceed, but if not, then it is important to communicate this to the client and ensure they understand they might need to revisit a position depending on what occurs in the future.

“As I say to a lot of people, no one's got a crystal ball, but the best you can do is to just try to identify what the risk areas are on the horizon and then do your best in advising accordingly,” he adds.

3. You’ve got to love learning
As clients expect more and more from tax advisers, you are expected to demonstrate suite of skills.
“You only ever get better if you maintain your attitude to keep learning, to keep skilling up, being curious about broader decision impacting business and always trying to deliver the best result for your client,” explains Andy.

“No one pretends that it's easy work. It is a very hard area to be practicing in, but at the same time I think that it's a very rewarding one.”

Andy says that if you keep learning at the forefront of your practice, it can be the perfect recipe for success and overall job satisfaction.

4. Technology is your
friend, not your replacement

Will digitisation and automation replace the tax
Andy says it’s not that simple.
“In terms of advisory, I don't really see technology
doing away with the tax lawyer as such because, again, a lot of transactions
can raise a lot of unique problems, and I don't know if anyone can devise an
algorithm that can identify and resolve those issues.
“So, I actually see that a lot of these advances are going
to be of assistance rather than replace or take over from the role of the tax
practitioner,” he adds.
Change is the only constant, and the best way to stay on top
of it is through a love of learning, keeping your finger on the pulse with
legislation, highlighting risk areas to clients, and seeing automation as a
partner in tax.

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