Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) CTA1 Foundations

Student Spotlight: Practical learning for those starting out their tax accounting career



Laptop computer with book and coffee on desk
Michael Walkom - male smiles at camera

This month we chatted with Michael Walkom, Accountant at AFM Services South Australia, and one of the DUX of CTA1 Foundations for Study Period 2 2022. Michael discusses key learnings from the subject, as well as top tips for juggling parenthood alongside work and studies.


Tell us about the background of your career in tax.

After graduating from Adelaide University in 2017, I spent the first 4 years of my working life in the commerce sector as an accountant for a not-for-profit organisation. During this time, I undertook and completed my CPA studies. From mid-2021, I made the move over to the public sector working as an accountant in the compliance team for AFM Services, and I’ve been here for just over 12 months.

Why did you choose to study with The Tax Institute Higher Education?

Having had no previous experience in the tax accountancy industry, I wanted to undertake a course that would fast-track my learning. After some research and discussions with the owner of AFM Services, I chose the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) Program as it seemed the most practical choice.

What skills and knowledge have you taken away from the CTA1 subject? Have you applied this new knowledge to your role?

As I am at the beginning of my tax accounting career, I found CTA1 Foundations to be a very practical subject and was able to immediately transfer each topic of study to my day-to-day work. From things like preparing individual and company tax returns, to also being able to apply small business entity CGT concessions to real-life scenarios (e.g. the retirement exemption).

It's difficult to choose a specific time I applied the learnings to my work, as it’s been relevant to everything I do on a day-to-day basis. However, straight after completing the superannuation topic, I completed my first ever Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF), using the knowledge gained in my studies to develop an understanding of how SMSFs operate from a tax perspective.

How did you juggle study, work and other commitments? 

As I have a two-year-old son, my main priority is to not let my studies affect my time spent with him. I found that I was able to do this by getting up around 4:30 am to complete my daily study before he was awake. Yes, it may have meant a little less sleep, but it helped me to know that my studies were not getting in the way of my most important job – being a dad!

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

I will continue studying the remaining 3 subjects of the CTA course over the next 1-2 years, whilst also building up the 3 years of the required experience needed to receive the Chartered Tax Adviser designation. I will then look at undertaking an MBA program at some point down the track. I think that should keep me busy for a while!

What advice do you have for other tax professionals considering the Chartered Tax Adviser Program?

I would highly recommend the Chartered Tax Adviser Program - whilst I've only undertaken the first subject, it has provided a solid foundation for my future studies and career. I find the program is structured appropriately to follow alongside work and other commitments.


CTA1 Foundations exposes you to a wide range of Australian tax issues, building skills to extend your career options, or the confidence to re-enter the tax profession. Developed and delivered by experienced tax experts, this is a thoroughly practical subject that can be applied to real-life situations.

Ready to continue your education in tax? Find out more here.

Read time: 3 minutes