what is tax accountancy?

A tax accountant interprets complex and ever-changing tax legislation to work out what tax their client or company must pay and why, to satisfy Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They also look for legal options to reduce the amount of tax paid. Think it could work for you? Take our quiz to find out!

On a day-to-day basis, you could be researching legislation and recent legal cases, completing and submitting tax returns, explaining tax law to senior stakeholders in a business or liaising with HMRC.

are there different roles within tax accountancy?

Consultancy and compliance are two sides of the tax accountancy coin.

Consultancy pertains to the problem-solving side of tax. With a detailed knowledge of tax structures, tax breaks and legal loopholes, you’ll be able to advise a client or business on how to become more tax-efficient.

The compliance part of the job means dealing with no small amount of paperwork. You’ll be running calculations, filling in tax returns and getting them filed. Typically your role at the start of your tax accountancy career will be more heavily weighted to compliance, as you build up your expertise for consultancy.

what skills and characteristics do tax accountants need to excel in the job?

  • A problem-solver mindset - you’ll need to be good at interpreting complex information to solve problems.

  • Clear communication skills – Tax is a complicated beast and it takes effort to master it. Most people won’t even try to understand it themselves and will look to you for clear, often topline, explanations. You’ll need to boil down something difficult into something easy to understand so being a concise communicator is a real must.
  • An interest in law, as well as finance – a lot of your role will involve examining and explaining tax legislation. Unlike other accounting roles, it’s not just about crunching numbers.
  • Strong organisation skills – you’ll be staying on top of a lot of paperwork at any given moment so being organised is useful.

what are the pros and cons of a career in tax accountancy?

Tax accounting is a little like marmite – some people love it, others hate it.


  •  You’re always learning – Tax law is always changing so there is always something new to learn.
  • You’ll be valued – Everyone from an individual or small business owner to a large multinational corporation has to pay tax. This means tax lawyers are very much in demand.


  • Staying on top of changes in tax law can feel overwhelming – you need a good breadth of knowledge if you want to work as a tax generalist.
  • As a result of tax accountancy being more specialised, it can be more difficult to switch to a different accountancy role without taking a step down – but it’s not unheard of.

is my tax experience transferable to other roles?

Tax accountancy is a little more specialised than general accounting and audit, which means it can be harder to shift your career away from tax without taking a step down, though there is plenty of variety in terms of the companies you can work for.

With a specialism in tax accountancy you can either work for an accountancy firm or within an organisation providing specialist tax legislation expertise. This specialism will open the door to a large number of potential employers from local specialist firms to multinational companies, public bodies and global charities.


If you’re an NQ accountant looking for a new role, have a look at our newly qualified accountant jobs and get in touch with one of our consultants, or take our quiz to find out which specialism you may be best suited to...