Student Spotlight: Mitchell Bird's journey to becoming the National Dux of CTA3 Advisory

Written by: The Tax Institute

Published: 15 May 2023


Mitchell Bird, Dux CTA3 Advisory 2022

National Dux of CTA3 Advisory for 2023, Mitchell Bird, Manager, Deals Tax team, KPMG, Melbourne shares what the challenging subject has taught him and how his steady pace led to success



How did you get started in tax?

I started my career as a graduate at KPMG in February 2018. As part of the graduate program, I rotated through different areas of the firm (including Deals Tax) during my first twelve months. I returned to the Deals Tax team in February 2019 and have remained in the team since then.

During my time in the Deals Tax team, I have provided Australian tax due diligence and tax structuring assistance in relation to M&A transactions, particularly with respect to investments made by private equity funds and investments in Australian real estate assets. I have also provided ongoing tax advisory assistance to large corporate groups.

In terms of formal study, in 2018/2019, I completed the CTA2A Advanced and CTA2B Advanced units to assist with developing my foundational tax technical understanding. During 2020/2021, I completed the CA program and was admitted as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. During 2022, I completed the final CTA3 Advisory subject to complete the CTA program and received the CTA designation. 

What learnings from the subject do you value most?

I undertook CTA3 Advisory because I wanted to broaden my tax technical understanding and thought the CTA3 subject would provide an opportunity for me to learn about areas of the tax law I haven’t yet considered in detail in professional practice. CTA3 also provided an opportunity for me to practice applying difficult tax technical concepts to case studies and receiving feedback on my work. I found the Small business CGT concessions and International Tax units particularly helpful because these areas were less familiar to me than the corporate tax unit.

Have you applied this new knowledge in your work?

I have applied what I learnt, particularly some of the topics covered as part of the International Tax module. As examples, I have recently considered the application of Division 855 and the interest withholding tax provisions as part of preparing written advice for clients. Both matters were covered in the International Tax module of CTA3 Advisory.

How did you find CTA3 Advisory subject differed to the other Tax Institute Higher Education subjects you’ve completed?

I completed CTA2A Advanced and CTA2B Advanced prior to undertaking CTA3 Advisory. The key difference between the units was the significant focus CTA3 Advisory places on applying tax technical matters to case study problems. I found drafting written advice during the semester a very helpful opportunity to practice explaining how a particular area of the tax law works, applying it to a case study and considering potential alternative options/solutions. The opportunity to discuss the case studies with experienced tax professionals and other students during the seminars was also very helpful.  

How did you manage the additional workload required by study?

I set aside time before my normal working hours a few days per week throughout the semester to help keep on top of the subject requirements and reduce the amount of work required on weekends. I found working steadily throughout the semester made the demands of work and study less overwhelming.

I also continued to be involved in my activities and interests outside work to ensure I had time away from work to do other things (e.g., involvement in my local church and playing in a basketball team).  

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

I have found formal study very helpful in developing my tax technical understanding which has given me a more rounded knowledge to assist clients with. Given the benefits of additional study, I would encourage others to consider opportunities to study, particularly early in their careers when you have the most to learn and demands/commitments outside work might be more manageable. Carefully considering existing work and other commitments before committing to study is also very important to ensure you don’t take on more than can be reasonably managed.

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