Property law insights: enhancing tax advisory skills with CommLaw3

Written by: The Tax Institute

Published: 28 Nov 2023

   

Chris-Green

Anna Trikoulis, Dux of CommLaw3 for Study Period 2, 2023, and Client Manager at Count North Sydney, shares insights into her learnings from the subject and how she effectively manages her busy schedule.

 

Tell us about your tax career.

I started 15 years ago at PwC in Private Clients, providing accounting and taxation services for small to medium businesses, high net worth family groups and corporates. During my time at the Big 4, I also studied my Graduate Diploma of Chartered Accounting and Master of Taxation to deepen my technical knowledge in tax.

In my current role at Count North Sydney as a Client Manager, I manage the client relationships and oversee the accounting team that provides bookkeeping, payroll, GST & FBT compliance, outsourced CFO and family office services. I also review the preparation of financial statements and income tax returns for companies, trusts, partnerships, superannuation funds, individuals and not for profit organisations. I support my clients when they require advice for complex taxation matters including tax planning, structuring, residency, international tax, Division 7A and capital gains tax.

As Count is a provider of integrated accounting and wealth services, I also work closely with my clients’ financial advisors to assist them to achieve their financial and lifestyle goals for the future. I’m passionate about providing my clients with holistic business and taxation advice that aligns with their wealth creation strategy.

 

Why did you take CommLaw3?

I enrolled into the Property Law subject to gain my qualifications to register as a tax agent. I do not have a legal background as I majored in Accounting and Finance during my undergraduate studies at university. I had already completed my post-graduate course in Taxation Law. However, I also required an additional Commercial Law subject to meet the requirements of the Tax Practitioners Board.

 

What has the subject taught you?

It has expanded my knowledge of how property is regulated and dealt with in a commercial law context. I now appreciate more fully the distinction between tangible and intangible property. In particular, I have a deeper understanding of the intricacies of conveyancing of real property such as land, as well as how intellectual property such as trademarks and patents may be registered and protected against infringement.

I am better equipped to advise clients on the tax implications of transactions relating to property, as I can perceive when there may be an issue when clients purchase or sell property. I also have a greater understanding of other issues such as the impact of competition and consumer law on businesses and consumers, the regulation of financing transactions, the impact of the Banking Royal Commission for financial advisors, as well as laws relating to electronic commerce and insurance.

 

Have you applied this new knowledge in your work?

Yes, I have applied my new knowledge from Property Law in my work. I advised a client group recently on the income tax, capital gains tax, FBT and GST implications of a business sale. This involved reviewing the business property dealt with under the contract of sale, such as the goodwill, and understanding how it should be treated from an accounting and tax perspective. I was also required to consider the client’s eligibility for the small business CGT concessions in relation to the business assets sold. As part of the next steps of winding down the company, I will also need to review the tax implications from a Division 7A perspective. My client has appreciated how I have been mindful of the different legal rights and obligations for each of the taxpayers concerned during the business sale. The client has been happy with how I have dealt with the issues promptly and simplified each complex element of the property transaction.

 

What’s your experience of studying at The Tax Institute Higher Education?

I had a positive experience studying with The Tax Institute Higher Education. The course was fully online, including the final exam, which made it easier for me to study at my own pace and in my own time. There was support from the course administrator who would check in with our progress online. The weekly reminders helped to keep me accountable to my study commitments so that I didn’t feel overwhelmed. When I required further support to clarify technical concepts, I was able to email the course convenor at any time. I really appreciated the technical insights provided to me by the subject matter expert which assisted me with my exam preparation.

 

How did you juggle study with your work and other commitments?

It was challenging studying again after having been out of formal education for the past five years. I had originally enrolled in CommLaw 3 last year, but I had to withdraw due to our overseas family holiday because the study load was too much for me to commit to while travelling.

I decided to enrol into CommLaw 3 again this year while I was on maternity leave with my third child, my son. I am also a mother to two older girls. It definitely wasn’t easy studying with three children under five at home. There were many sleepless nights, childhood illnesses and kids’ activities to manage each week. Thankfully I was on leave from work so that I could focus on my studies. I also had tremendous support and assistance from my husband and both our families who would help look after the children for a few hours while I studied.

As a busy working mother, I know that time is precious. I had to be disciplined and organised with my free time which meant spending most of the weekend studying. I would also ensure my office was free from distractions so that I could focus on the learning materials. I made sure to follow the suggested study timetable and I set myself realistic daily tasks. If I did fall behind because of something unexpected with the family, I would make up the time whenever I could. I would review the subject readings when the kids were asleep either early in the morning or late at night, or while I was travelling between appointments.

I would advise those considering further study to plan their schedule well in advance. This will help set themselves up for success and enable them to better manage the workload. It may mean delaying travel and family plans or major work projects, or even having other family members take on greater responsibilities at home. As I had excelled in my studies in the past, I knew that if I worked hard and committed my time to studying, I would be able to perform at my best.

 

Where to now for you when it comes to continuing tax education?

As the tax profession is always changing and so that I can stay ahead of the curve, I am considering further study with The Tax Institute to gain my qualification as a Chartered Tax Adviser. This is a prestigious designation that will distinguish me from my peers as a tax adviser of the highest calibre committed to providing the best tax advice to clients. I am also looking to challenging myself in the future with post-graduate university studies in law.

 

What advice do you have for other tax professionals considering studying?

I would encourage tax professionals who are unsure about what study options are suitable for them to contact The Tax Institute to discuss their options further. I am glad I spoke to an Advisor at The Tax Institute who helped me to understand what courses would suit my level of qualifications and experience so that I can get the most out of my studies and progress to the next level. As tax professionals we need to adapt and stay up to date with the latest developments. Prioritising your studies is important as it enables you to become the best possible advisor to your clients. 

Interested in the Tax Agent Program? Learn more here. 

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