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How your degree can lead to a career in Tax

How your degree can lead to a career in Tax

In our Career in Tax blog we meet people from varying undergraduate backgrounds, from Law to neuroscience who all have one thing in common, they have all pursued a career in tax. Read more about their intereseting career journeys below. 

Hi my name is Noel Gavin and I am a tax trainee in Deloitte, Dublin.

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I studied Law and Accounting in the University of Limerick before going on to complete the Master of Accounting programme in Smurfit Graduate Business School. The skills that I have attained from my college studies, such as research skills and the ability to analyse complex data, have been instrumental since I started working in tax.

I re-joined Deloitte in September 2015 having completed an internship which I found to be simply invaluable. By working in the Private Clients division of the tax department I deal with various aspects of tax on a daily basis including Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Capital Acquisitions Tax, Stamp Duty and LPT.

Why Tax?

I chose to pursue a career in tax after completing my internship as it had opened my eyes to how exciting and challenging a career in tax would be. It’s exciting because no two days are the same in the dynamic world of tax. This is due to the fact that you are dealing with a broad range of clients on a daily basis that have different issues and will face different outcomes in relation to their individual circumstances. This variety keeps the work interesting. One minute you could be preparing an income tax return, and the next you could be preparing a consultancy piece on the tax implications under the various tax heads of a company re-org.

Therefore, we must ensure that we tailor our advice to the individual client needs in order to ensure that they receive the most tax efficient solutions. It’s challenging as a result of the fact that it is constantly evolving through the development of new legislation. This can effectively give rise to new issues for clients but also provides the scope for new solutions to be identified and provided by us through the application of our knowledge of this legislation to the individual scenarios we are presented with.


I chose Deloitte because I had met their representatives at various graduate fairs and from speaking with them I knew that the firm must have had such a wonderful working environment as they were so enthusiastic and passionate about their roles within the firm.

My first week comprised of an induction training programme with all the other interns along with various social events in the evenings. This week was very beneficial as it helped us build our soft skills and communication skills. It was also a great networking opportunity as it gave the interns a chance to get to know each other. During this first week we also met our Buddies. A buddy was an individual that had gone through the induction phase recently and would remember what it was like to be a newbie in such a big firm.

During my internship I was allocated a number of clients that I was to be caseworker on. This ensured that I got real hands-on practical experience and effectively meant that I would be responsible for ensuring that information requests were sent and that returns were prepared on a timely basis. In addition, I was also brought to several client meetings and was involved in a number of succession planning projects for high net worth individuals.

One of the greatest things about Deloitte is the value they put on having a good work/life balance. This was obvious from the numerous amount of social events which were organised and which we were encouraged to attend. Some examples include the annual summer party which involved a BBQ and Tag Rugby tournament and a drinks evening with the partners in tax which gave us the opportunity to get to know them personally. This also made it less daunting when it came to reporting to them in relation to projects in the office.

My experience at Deloitte was very positive and I believe that this was a result of the open and friendly environment within the firm. The people were all so helpful with ensuring that I settled in and that I was comfortable in my role. They also made it their priority to ensure that I felt part of the team immediately. The greatest benefit of the internship was the fact that it really launched my career for me. After completing it I knew that tax was for me and when I re-joined Deloitte on the graduate programme I really appreciated the fact that I was already familiar with the firm and its internal structure and procedures.

My Future

I am currently enrolled to do my Part 2 CTA exams this April. Following this, I will go on to do the FAE in 2017 and my Part 3 CTA exams in 2018. This route has provided me with an incredible opportunity for rapid career progression as Deloitte have given me the chance to have acquired two professional qualifications (Chartered Tax Adviser & Chartered Accountant) within the short period of three years. Furthermore, the excellent exam support provided by the Learning team in Deloitte along with the friendly team environment in which I work on a daily basis will instil self-confidence in my ability to succeed in doing so.

Overall, I am really enjoying my time here and would highly recommend an internship in Tax with Deloitte to anyone from any college background interested in the concept of taxation. The on-the-job training and learning, complemented by the people and team environment in which I work, and the work/life balance offered by Deloitte, makes this firm an exceptional place to work.

Hi, my name is  Paul Cherubuini and I work in Tax Consulting with KPMG.

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I attended Maynooth University and studied Law for four years. Law is a relatively new course in Maynooth, so although there aren’t many fellow Maynooth Law graduates here in KPMG I’m expecting to see more in the years to come.

I had seen KPMG at various graduate recruitment events, so I thought it would be worth my while to apply for a graduate position. What stood out to me from the beginning with KPMG was how friendly the people within the organisation are. When I was offered the position I didn’t hesitate in accepting it.

What I enjoy about working in Tax Consulting is the variety of different tasks I get to do each day. Each client is different, and this variety keeps the work interesting. From preparing tax returns for filing, to dealing with client queries there is always something different to do. The work can be challenging, but you have a good team around you to rely on who are always there to help.

Several skills you gain from studying law are directly transferable to working in Tax Consulting. Firstly you often use legislation so familiarity with working with this is a bonus. Other skills such as research, drafting and writing letters and emails to clients and businesses are also applicable.

It can be challenging to juggle both work and study, however you do have a vast amount of resources at your disposal. All your books are provided, and notes and lecture slides are all online and easily accessed. What makes it easier also is that your colleagues are studying the same material as you, so there is always somebody to bounce your questions off.

In addition to the resources I just mentioned, you also have access to the KPMG Business School. You get to attend a number of useful courses with people both working for KPMG and people who work with the institute. Lecturers and experts come in to teach you the material in a smaller setting, where you can ask questions, do some practical work and receive feedback. An example of this is, the weeklong financial accounting course we did before we came into the office with a lecturer from the Institute.

One of the best things about working here at KPMG is the social aspect. There always seems to be some event on! My intake organised a trip to Galway for a weekend after our induction training, celebrating fellow employees passing exams etc. There are also upcoming events like tag-rugby tournaments and 5-a-side football amongst others, so there’s plenty to get involved in.

Overall I’m really enjoying my time here so far, and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in applying.

NeuroScientist turned Tax Trainee 

Hi! My name is Clodagh Phelan and I am a tax trainee in Tax Consulting with KPMG.

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I completed a Bachelor of Neuroscience degree in UCD. I found my undergraduate degree very interesting and challenging however I could not imagine spending the rest of my life working in a research laboratory. After spending hours in a laboratory and months doing my thesis I realised that I would like to pursue a career where I interact with people on a regular basis and utilise my interpersonal and communication skills. Therefore I decided to pursue a career outside the spectrum of Neuroscience. I decided to choose Tax Consulting in KPMG.

The skills that I obtained from my undergraduate degree, such as the ability to work through and analyse complex data, have been invaluable since I started working in the Tax Consulting department.

I had heard many great things about KPMG’s Tax Consulting practice. I felt that a career working in KPMG would allow me to gain an understanding of interesting domestic and international tax issues. I spoke to some people who were working in the Tax Consulting area at a graduate fair. They all stressed the amazing support that the KPMG Business School provided, in terms of day-to-day tax training but especially in preparation for the exams.

I enjoy working in Tax Consulting because I get the opportunity to work with huge clients on a daily basis. I am exposed to dealing with very diverse and broad tax issues in respect of a variety of companies. Every day is a new learning experience. Tax Consulting is very much legislative based and our work involves the application of this legislation to practical and real world business scenarios.

It can be very challenging to manage both work and lectures, however the support provided by KPMG is invaluable. All of the material is online so readily available, and all of the relevant books are provided. I find it comforting that everybody in the office has been in the same position before so there is always good advice available and help at hand.

One of the greatest aspects about working in KPMG is the people. The Tax Consulting department is a young and vibrant place to work and there is a huge social element. There are numerous social outings held during the year such as karaoke on intake night, and the annual Christmas party. My intake also organised a trip to Galway after our induction training. There are also lots of societies and events to get involved in which are great for meeting people in different departments. I have also become involved in one the companies many CSR projects. In December I was involved in organising the tax department’s fundraiser for Irish Cancer Society. We organised a Pink day and a bake sale and raised a lot of money for the charity.

The training complimented by the people I work with along with the work life balance makes KPMG a fantastic company to work for. I would highly recommend KPMG to anybody who is considering a position in KPMG as a Tax Consultant, this company is second to none.

Emma's Journey with EY Continues

We last met with Emma as she told us about her summer internship experience with EY.

We catch up with her now as she moves on to their graduate programme.

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At the end of my summer internship I interviewed with a partner and was offered a position in the graduate programme. I accepted this offer as I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a summer intern and decided that tax was definitely the right place for me.

I came to this decision through discussions with EY employees in the tax department and other students who were also partaking in the internship. Throughout final year in college I was also a brand ambassador for EY, this role allowed me to keep up contact with the firm throughout the college year. One key factor in my decision to return to EY was the exam support. The supports provided include extra classes and a very generous study leave package in order to help students pass on their first attempt.

Another key factor in my decision to come back to EY and more specifically to return to the tax department was the fact that, as I mentioned before, the field of tax is constantly evolving. An example of one such change that is topical at the minute is the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) initiative. This initiative looks at taxing companies in the countries where they have real and physical substance. This makes it a particularly interesting time to be in tax as this initiative will impact many multinational enterprises operating in Ireland.

The area of tax in Ireland is also of particular interest as Ireland has a very attractive corporation tax rate of 12.5% which attracts many MNEs to operate in Ireland. This rate results in those working in tax in Ireland interacting with some of the largest MNEs in Europe and in fact the world.

Upon starting the graduate programme I really appreciated the fact that I had undertaken the summer internship, as I was familiar with the firm and its common processes. From day one of the graduate programme you are given real responsibility over your client list as a primary point of contact. The responsibility that is placed upon you results in improved learning speed and submersion into the tax environment.

My Future?

I am currently enrolled with Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) to do my CAP1 exams. After completion of my Chartered Accountant’s qualification I will then go on to enrol with the Irish Tax Institute and complete my Part 2 and Part 3 tax exams. Although it will take some time to become fully qualified, the excellent exam support in EY and the friendly environment will hopefully help me to succeed!

An Engineer takes on Tax 

Hi my name is Michael Wendel.

I studied Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering in UCD. I never thought I would end up working in professional services for a company like KPMG.

I had first decided to apply for KPMG while I was working for a technology company, in which I spent two years after graduating. I found out there were people from a variety of disciplines working at KPMG, and so I decided to submit an application.

I had applied for a position in Tax Consulting as I had an interest in that area –  I like to know exactly what taxes I am meant to pay and more importantly not meant to pay. Tax is also universally applicable around the world. As I love to travel and enjoy a diverse life this was perfect for me.

Since I started the graduate programme, I have already learned so much. I came to KPMG with no prior knowledge of accounting, tax or business other than what I had picked up myself from bits and pieces of light reading, but from day one the firm had given us everything we needed to get up to speed.

As you can imagine engineering and accounting / tax don’t have a lot of technical commonalities, however that’s not to say that my degree hasn’t had a positive influence on my work to date. It also goes without saying that the maths element of engineering is a big help when you are dealing with numbers as your day to day job.

When I found out that I also had to go back to college as part of my training I did have a moment of apprehension. Then I looked at the positives, I will have another professional qualification. It is a massive achievement when it is done. I found out that KPMG provide unparalleled assistance to their staff when sitting exams. There are multiple study sessions, an abundance of exam leave and extensive material at your disposal. I am learning so much from the job that I can count that as study in its own right. I quickly found a healthy way to balance work, life and study. The way I see it, it is an investment in yourself.

The office environment I am in is excellent as you share it with a number of likeminded individuals. I have made many friends with people in the office and it has resulted in a new social circle forming in my life.

Irish Tax Institute