Tax professionals use their knowledge of tax legislation to provide advisory and consultancy services to clients so they may benefit from any tax advantages and exemptions. Although New Zealand’s tax system is not particularly complex, most businesses use tax professionals. Hence demand for tax professionals and tax lawyers is always strong.
The New Zealand Government relies on taxes to help fund infrastructure and public services that benefit all New Zealanders. However, any moves by incumbent governments to raise taxes is usually met with significant public disapproval. It’s a very delicate balancing act!
Everyone who earns money in New Zealand must pay income tax, including businesses, contractors and the self-employed. Taxable income can come from a variety of sources, including wages, salary, profit, interest payments and dividends. These sources include a progressive, but comparatively flat and low-rate income tax system, a broadly applied value added tax of 15% on goods and services (GST), and an internationally competitive corporate income tax rate of 28%. However, despite our relatively lower marginal tax rates, the total amount of tax revenue generated by the New Zealand government is reasonably high, compared to other OECD countries.*
*Samuel Jack Wynands: The Future of Tax in New Zealand, Treasury Tertiary Challenge 2018
“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr – US jurist (1927)
Current changes to the New Zealand tax system**
The New Zealand government’s recent multi-billion dollar business continuity package, aimed at assisting businesses through the Covid-19 crisis, is an excellent example of how the tax system can be used to support and stimulate economic activity. The package included a number of tax initiatives intended to provide some relief to taxpayers, including:
- Increased access to the low value asset write-off concession
- Reintroduction of depreciation on buildings
- Research and development tax credit refundability
- Use of money interest changes
- Changes to provisional tax rules
What does the future hold?
Traditionally, tax advisers provided a dual role, assisting their clients with compliance requirements such as income tax and GST returns, and advising clients on the taxation consequences of specific transactions, business structures and disputes with tax authorities.
Due to the integration of accounting software with the systems of tax authorities such as New Zealand Inland Revenue, the work of tax professionals now is primarily advisory. Their role covers every stage of a business or investment lifecycle, increasingly across borders and often involving multiple stakeholders and digital platforms. Knowing what tax obligations may arise and weighing tax obligations against each other to make good decisions is almost impossible to achieve without professional tax advice. This kind of work is increasingly required of tax professionals across all sectors.
What skills and attributes can I gain from my Taxation major?
- An in-depth understanding of tax law and regulations
- The ability to apply tax laws
- Logical and qualitative thinking
- Interpretive and analytical thinking
- Strong sense of professional standards and ethics
- Good time management and organisational skills
- Problem-solving ability
- Communication skills
- Computer skills
Taxation career options
A Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) taxation major or Bachelor of Laws (LLB) specialisation in taxation gives your degree a point of difference that can lead to a range of specialist career possibilities. Career opportunities include:
- Auditor/audit analyst
- Business analyst
- Business advisory services
- Financial controller/planner
- Finance manager
- Interest rate risk manager
- International finance manager
- Tax consultant
Where do Taxation graduates work?
A Taxation major will equip you with the skills and knowledge to become a taxation specialist either as a commercial professional or (after qualification) as a chartered accountant or CPA at, for example, Deloitte, EY, PwC, KPMG and other professional services and tax specialist firms.
Graduates could also find work in the finance teams of government organisations (such as Inland Revenue and Treasury), banking and financial services, manufacturing, construction, information management, retail, agriculture, logistics and software development, to name just a few possibilities.
University of Auckland clubs and societies for Taxation students
Beta Alpha Psi – Auckland Chapter (BAP)
Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) is an international honours organisation for accounting, finance and information systems students and professionals. BAP recognises academic and professional excellence and complements members’ formal education by providing self-development opportunities and networking among students, faculty and professionals. Learn more
Professional associations for Taxation students and graduates
Some Taxation major students who have also studied Accounting aspire to become chartered or certified accountants. In Australia and New Zealand, these qualifications* are associated with joining one of the following:
- Chartered Accountants of New Zealand (CA ANZ)
- CPA Australia
- Accounts and Tax Agents Institute of New Zealand (ATAINZ)
Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can also help you to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, events and job vacancies.
*Learn more about qualification
Careers New Zealand
The Careers New Zealand website provides useful salary information for a range of business and industry roles, as well as information on the difference a qualification makes to what you are paid, and advice on negotiating your salary. You can also search for salary information by job.
Prospects specialises in advice for UK university students and graduates. Much of the information is relevant to New Zealand students.