A formidable accountant and an outstanding communicator, the tax audit technician must also know the law and continually adapt to handle a variety of cases. Close-up.
“It’s a tailor-made profession for people who have a mathematical mind and a thirst for challenges and continually learning new things,” Louise Morissette, director of Business Intelligence for Revenue Canada in the Quebec region, says enthusiastically. Having passionately practised this profession for 30 years, she speaks of a profession with a wide range of contours, in which “each case is a new adventure.”
Indeed, whether it has to do with tax audits at a small merchant or in a large public relations firm, the auditor must strive to understand the environment in which he ends up and is thus constantly propelled into new learning. The tax audit technician’s typical day includes research, rigorous preparation of tax audit questionnaires and in-person meetings with taxpayers or their accountants. This is where, in addition to obtaining answers to all the necessary questions, the auditor will analyze the records.
“Contrary to popular belief, it is not a profession in which one is always poorly received and the bearer of bad news,” notes Louise Morissette. “Our audits are done when certain income tax returns surprise us, for example, a considerable increase in revenue in a short period of time. Often these data are accurate and our audits are regularly carried out in favour of the taxpayer. Our mission is to determine the exact amount of tax payable, even if it means a reduction of taxes and leads to a refund.”
At Revenue Canada, tax auditors have a variety of profiles, some beginning their career directly after their accounting studies, while others choose this profession after a few years in private accounting practice. What is certain is that there is a strong demand. “We have to battle with the accounting firms to attract the best candidates,” explains Louise Morissette. “We need candidates with a university degree and eligible for the CPA title, who have a good sense of accounting analysis, an excellent critical sense, good understanding and knowledge of the law and the ability to understand all sorts of accounting systems.”
Communication qualities are obviously paramount. In front of taxpayers from different backgrounds, some very insecure by the context of a tax audit, “it takes tact and diplomacy, and you have to know how to put your counterpart at ease by showing him that we are there for the right reasons.” Add to this a great deal of autonomy and good time management and you are the perfect tax auditor! Depending on your level, your annual salary will range between $59,000 and $135,000.
Related article: Careers in Taxation