Want to make it to the top in taxation? Then there’s another wee acronym you might want to think about! Highly experienced tax specialists are quite likely to have CTA tagged to their name…

What’s the CTA?

The CTA is the highest level tax qualification in the UK. Its syllabus and exams are set by the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), which is the UK’s leading professional body for taxation professionals.

CTA itself stands for Chartered Tax Adviser. If you pass the exams, you can become a member of CIOT and achieve the lovely shiny status of chartered in the tax world – something many top employers keep their eyes peeled for.

What will it involve?

Alas, there are more nights and weekends of study and exams ahead if you choose to go for the CTA qualification! But you can take the exams when you feel ready for them, so that’s something!

CTA syllabus is an intense course of tax knowledge, calculations and advisory skills and the application of tax law. There are four taxation papers (two advisory, one awareness and one application and interaction) as well as two E-Assessments which will test your knowledge and abilities in tax law and ethics of the profession.

There are two potential routes for the CTA qualification with different focuses: the direct tax route (tax which is paid directly to the imposing body by the individual or organisation) and the indirect tax route (a tax which is already added to something the individual or organisation purchases, for example VAT). Tax advisers do tend to specialise, so it’s up to you to decide where your interests lie.

What will it enable me to do?

The CTA is one way of helping the crème de la crème of tax advisers to stand out. If you’ve reached the point in your tax career at which you’re ready to take it to the next level and you already have a professional qualification in the bag, the CTA might help you to access more senior positions.

If you have ambitions to set up your own tax practice one day and work for yourself, then having something like a CTA qualification could really help to boost your integrity as a top class tax adviser in a very competitive market.

How can I get the CTA?

You won’t be able to take the exams to obtain the CTA without first clocking up relevant work experience in taxation. Most people who go for this particular qualification usually already have a professional qualification too such as the ATT, which they might have earned through a school leaver or graduate programme route. The CIOT website provides a full list of qualifications and experience that will make you eligible for the CTA. At the moment it costs £155 to register as a CTA student and £140 to sit each exam paper for the CTA (£80 for the E-Assessments), but you may be lucky enough to carry on receiving financial support and study help from your employer to carry on with the CTA exams as you progress at work as part of your training contract.

If you feel like you would benefit from tuition and support with preparation for the exams then there are business schools across the UK that offer structured CTA courses, and there are flexible study mode options to fit around your lifestyle and work commitments.