So you thought tax was a specialist area? Think again! VAT (Value Added Tax) is even more specialised and a career in VAT is a profession whereby your expertise could save corporates and individuals substantial tax bills. For people considering a career tax, have you thought about specialising even further into VAT? What is VAT? What is it like to work in VAT and for those already working as a VAT specialist - are there many career options out there at the moment?
What is VAT?
VAT, an EU indirect tax enforced in all EU member states, is charged on the supply of goods and services. It is a transaction-based tax on consumption and arises at each stage of the supply chain. Put simply, it is a tax on consumer spending. It is built into the cost of many commonly consumed items such as clothing and petrol; so you don’t see what percentage of VAT you are paying and as such is an indirect tax.
Considering a career in VAT?
VAT specialists can be found in accountancy and tax firms. VAT specialists provide advice to clients on the VAT liabilities of their businesses and the VAT implications of transactions that they are undertaking. Clients can range from multi-national listed companies through to self-employed individuals. Some graduates commence their career within the VAT department of an accountancy firm, others find themselves moving into VAT from corporate tax or personal tax once qualified.
VAT specialists can also be found within industry and often start their career in the finance team working directly with the accountants and financial controller/directors moving their way up to VAT manager and head of indirect tax posts within global corporations.
A career in VAT is an intellectually challenging profession with opportunity to work closely with clients. Numerical ability, whilst always an advantage is not the most important skill set which VAT candidates need. An enquiring mind; grasp of detail; ability to flex your approach to different situations and excellent communication skills are all important elements.
Already working in VAT?
Good news! Your skills are in demand and there are positions open for VAT specialists with international VAT exposure. Many of the positions that are available are within large multinational corporations where a substantial European presence is held through a shared services centre/global HQ or European head office structure. A VAT specialist at the senior end will be required to organise and manage the EMEA VAT environment and will be responsible for VAT compliance and consulting including systems and process improvement. VAT analysts will support the VAT specialist/managers in their role. As the Dublin hub is responsible for the EMEA region, the ability to communicate with multi jurisdictions is essential.
VAT specialists in some of the larger professional services firms are in demand from VAT senior to VAT manager levels. Salaries are more competitive for VAT specialists as there is a limited supply of specialists in this area.
To sum it up, VAT is a great career choice and there will always be a demand for experts in this niche area. The only bad news is we pay too much as customers!