Technology is transforming the way the tax system works, from ‘real time’ reporting of PAYE information to plans for online personal tax accounts. However any thoughts that digitisation will reduce the need for tax advice and support can be dismissed. Pressure on HMRC to deliver more with less means there is growing pressure on taxpayers to supply information to the authorities in the prescribed form, at the prescribed time, with increasingly tough penalties for any failure to do so. They will continue to need expert help from qualified professionals to manage this, even if the nature of the work is changing.

Changing environment
The profession is not only tech-ing up, it is also becoming more international. Globalisation means that there is a greater need for advisers with international tax skills to serve those whose affairs span different jurisdictions, and international qualifications are increasingly in demand.

Meanwhile the system is not getting any simpler. The Office of Tax Simplification are carrying out valuable work. But every year Parliament passes another 600 or so pages of tax legislation, bringing in new incentives, anti-avoidance measures and other tweaks.

Tax and accounting weathered the recession relatively well and are now among the sectors leading the recovery. Ultimately, tax is a good business to be in because it is intellectually stimulating and involves helping people to interact with the state in what is always likely to be a highly complex area.

What the industry needs
More than ever, tax professionals need not just technical knowledge, but good interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to people and communicate complex concepts in a straightforward way. Those practitioners who will be most successful in the digital age are those who understand this.