Life in Corporate Tax as an Associate

Say hello to Richard Shao, Corporate Tax Associate at Grant Thornton. Richard answers some questions below to help us understand what life is like in Corporate Tax. We hope you enjoy Richard's story and it gives you an insight into Grant Thornton and the Corporate Tax team.

What is the name of your service line, which office(s) are you in, and when did you join?

I joined the Corporate Tax team in the Thames Valley and Southampton (TVS) offices in May 2018.

What does your service line do?

Broadly speaking, the Corporate Tax team deals with the tax issues that arise within companies. This is generally known as tax compliance and tax advisory:

Tax compliance is helping our clients make sure that they are paying the right amount of tax to HMRC. This is important as paying too little tax risks investigation and fines. Whereas, paying too much tax will have a negative impact on cash flow. The compliance cycle can be split into two stages: the provisional stage, where a draft tax figure is supplied to both the client and the audit team so it can be included in the financial statements, followed by the finalisation stage, where the exact tax payable figure can be worked out; post year-end adjustments.

Tax advisory is helping our clients to deal with the complex tax implications such as: share options and company restructuring. This aspect of tax adds a lot of value to our clients, as it involves specialist tax knowledge and it ensures our clients tax planning is efficient, legal, and ethical.

What do you do in a typical day/week?

Most of my work involves preparing corporate tax computations for clients, which will test your time management, attention to detail, and communication skills. Communication is important, as you will need to convey expectations with auditors and job managers, as well as conversing with the clients to identify which of their expenses are and are not tax deductible. Typically, this will mean keeping your own records up to date and emailing or calling managers and clients on a timely basis.

Whilst preparing computations, you need to pay attention to detail when you are analysing expenses or the fixed breakdowns. Background knowledge is needed as you will need to classify certain expenses to be added back into the taxable profit.

What have you done in the last few days?

The past few days have been quite interesting for me, as I have just come back to client work after 4 weeks out of the office. I have been catching up on outstanding computations and emailing or phoning managers to see where jobs are up to.

With the new joiners starting this week, I have been helping with some of the training, such as how to submit tax computations to HMRC. Despite being very new to the role myself, I have found this to be very enjoyable. You realise that you have picked things up very quickly whilst on the job and it is rewarding to be able to pass on those skills.

What skills do you think are most important in your stream?

I think most important skills are organisation and communication. I was given a client allocation list quite early on, and keeping on top of your clients’ expectations and deadlines is key in order to do a good job. In order to complete the work to a high standard, you will need to communicate effectively with clients, job managers, and the audit team if there is a hold up, so you can manage their expectations.

What kind of client contact have you had so far?

Since I have been with GT, I have been to a meeting at a client site, and have had the opportunity to sit in on multiple calls between managers and clients. I have even had a client call me up personally, completely out of the blue, to run through some tax queries, which was unexpected and a little bit scary. Having said that, it’s the unexpected nature of the job that can make it very interesting, and pushes you to always be on the ball.

Favourite part of the job so far?

The best part of my job so far has been sending out the draft tax computations. It is very rewarding to see the weeks of hard work finally pay off. Usually, both the clients and audit team are very grateful to receive the information, and the job manager will be grateful to have the work off their plate! That is until finalisation rolls around …