Working in a tax role at HMRC offers a varied and stimulating job with plenty of opportunities to specialise and take your career to senior levels in the civil service
Senior tax professionals work at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), making sure that organisations and individuals pay the correct amount of tax at the right time.
They're responsible for detecting and investigating tax evasion and, in disputed cases, will represent HMRC at independent appeal tribunals.
The role also involves offering information and advice to individuals, businesses and organisations on a range of tax and related issues.
HMRC collects and administers taxes so that there is enough money to pay for the UK's public services and to help families and individuals who need financial support.
The work is diverse and intellectually stimulating and involves taking on responsibility in the early stages. Senior tax professionals investigate the accuracy of tax returns and accounts submitted to HMRC.
- applying tax legislation to companies, partnerships, organisations and individuals
- examining accounts and researching background material
- investigating fraud
- giving expert advice on taxation matters to companies, partnerships, organisations and individuals
- negotiating tax settlements with taxpayers and their accountants or solicitors
- representing HMRC at independent appeal tribunals in disputed cases.
In cases that result in a full enquiry, you'll also need to carry out the following activities:
- inspecting the finances of a business to find out exactly how it operates
- reviewing, in detail, aspects of the business accounts to ensure that tax law has been applied correctly
- examining the records kept and considering factors such as the lifestyle of the proprietor or board directors
- visiting business premises and meeting people face-to-face during the investigation
- presenting a case, both written and in person, to the taxpayer or their professional advisers, accountants or lawyers.
- The starting salaries for recruits joining the HMRC Tax Professional Graduate Programme (TPGP) are £30,260 nationally and £34,400 in London.
- Upon successful completion of the intensive three-year training programme, you can expect to move into a senior tax professional post at Grade 7. The pay band at this level starts at £50,010 nationally and £56,270 in London.
Subject to the restrictions of any pay freeze in place, trainees can receive pay rises and promotions while on the graduate programme.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Long working hours are occasionally required. Flexible working hours are widely available, but you'll need to discuss the option of part-time work, job share and term-time only working, special leave and career breaks. You'll also be entitled to maternity, adoption and paternity leave, should you need it.
What to expect
- Work is mostly carried out in the office, but it's also necessary to visit a variety of business premises as part of the job.
- An equal opportunities policy is practised in both recruitment and promotion.
- Although mobility is a condition of employment, it may be possible to complete your working career in the same geographical location.
- There are HMRC offices in most major towns and cities throughout the UK. Successful applicants are based within one of the larger HMRC offices for the duration of the training programme, offering access to most functions within their business. Flexibility on location is important.
- Posts involve working on your own initiative and exercising judgement and discretion.
- There are some restrictions on political activity.
- There's no formal dress code, but smart casual is the accepted norm. Bear in mind that, when meeting the public, you're representing a government department.
- While on the training programme, travel to a training centre on a weekly basis may be necessary. Once you're in a permanent post, travel within a working day is common.
- Absence from home overnight is occasionally needed, but overseas work or travel is uncommon.
The TPGP is designed to provide a broad insight into the range of work undertaken by HMRC and is the foundation for a career as a senior tax professional.
The minimum academic qualification for entry is a 2:2 honours degree in any subject (or equivalent), or if applying as an internal candidate, the ability to demonstrate the required competences.
The application process takes place in three stages. After the initial application form, you'll be invited to take a verbal reasoning test. If successful, you'll go on to take the numerical reasoning test. If you pass the numerical test, you'll then be invited to take a civil service judgment test.
Stage two consists of an online video interview. Successful applicants will then move on to stage three, a one-day assessment centre in February/March.
Applicants need to be European Economic Area (EEA) nationals (including British citizens), Commonwealth citizens, Swiss nationals or, in some circumstances, Turkish nationals.
Applicants who are successful in reaching the interview stage of the recruitment process will be asked to declare details of any criminal convictions, including spent convictions and cautions, to allow basic security checks to be completed. A criminal record won't necessarily prevent you from being successful in your application for the TPGP, but it may exclude you from applying for other posts within the department.
Full details on how to apply and deadline dates are available on the HMRC website.
A postgraduate qualification is not needed.
You'll need to show:
- communication skills
- independent thinking
- analytical and problem-solving skills
- the ability to make decisions and to articulate and express views confidently and democratically
- teamworking and the ability to contribute positively to a team dynamic, as well as the ability to exercise initiative
- planning and organising skills
- openness to change, with the ability to adapt and respond positively to shifts in business focus and customer needs
- a customer-focused approach to work.
Pre-entry experience in taxation is not necessary. The selection process focuses on your capabilities and potential, and emphasis is placed on the competences required. Examples of you demonstrating these capabilities are sought after in the selection process, drawn from all areas of life.
In the past, HMRC has run an eight-week internship programme open to students in their penultimate year of study who expect to achieve a minimum 2:2 degree in any subject. The graduate-level placement provides an insight into the role of a tax professional and includes structured training, mentoring and supervision. The internship did not run in 2019, so check the HMRC website for details of any upcoming programmes.
HMRC is the UK's tax authority and is responsible for collecting billions of pounds in tax from UK businesses and individuals, and for administering National Insurance and student loans, as well as ensuring compliance with the National Minimum Wage.
HMRC recruits applicants on to the HMRC Tax Professional Graduate Programme from which successful applicants go on to develop a career as a senior tax professional. Staff work in a variety of locations throughout the UK.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Civil Service Job Search
- HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
- HMRC Tax Professional Graduate Programme
- HMRC Tax Professional Graduate Programme on Facebook
You could also consult careers service vacancy lists, or listings in the national press.
The TPGP usually lasts three years and prepares graduates to:
- deal with complex tax cases
- negotiate confidently with customers and their professional advisers
- lead and influence teams.
The aim of the programme is to provide a broad insight into the range of work undertaken by HMRC. Trainees take on early responsibility and are supported by mentoring, advice and supervision to gain tax professional qualifications.
The programme's modular structure covers both technical tax issues and professional skills, such as communication. It's a mixture of practical work experience in teams, formal study days, tutor-led sessions, self-study, exams and practical assessments, with regular reviews and appraisals. Trainees are allocated mentors as well as supervisors. Stage 1 provides a broad foundation of knowledge in the different areas of tax. Stage 2 builds on broader professional skills and includes gaining an externally accredited qualification.
The training is intensive and trainees need to pass an exam on each module. A module usually lasts two to three months.
On successful completion of the course, trainees become fully qualified senior tax professionals and are ready to assume either a technical/investigative role or a customer relationship management role.
Tax legislation is highly complex and contains a great amount of technical detail. Since it's constantly changing and increasing, senior tax professionals are expected to participate in continuing professional development (CPD). Spending time and effort beyond their initial training on updating their knowledge is considered part of the job role.
Successful completion of the TPGP leads to an accredited qualification. Once obtained, you'll be promoted to a Grade 7 post as a senior tax professional. This opens up many different career options within HMRC.
For example, senior tax professionals may go on to work in the compliance office, dealing with fraud and prosecution work. Some go on to train and develop new senior tax professionals.
Another possibility is to go into tax policy advice work, advising the government on changes to the taxation regime.
Alternatively, you could move into a number of management positions, including project management.
The tax qualification is also recognised in the private sector.