Bak runs Yes Accounting, a mobile tax accounting business he started three years ago. A sole practitioner, Bak specialises in small- to medium-business (SME) tax as well as personal tax.
With the tax season here, Bak knows there may be long hours ahead, but when he isn't busy visiting clients and giving tax advice, he is either going out, playing table tennis or snorkelling.
Why did you choose a career in tax accounting?
I chose to go into tax accounting because it's a challenging area to practice in. Tax accounting involves interpreting Australian tax laws and, as the laws in this area are always changing, it's a challenge to keep up to date.
I started out in financial and management accounting for a medium-size medical practice. My first job in tax accounting was as a graduate officer for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Now, I run my own tax accounting business. I have offices in the eastern suburbs in Coogee and the western suburbs in Greystanes.
I help clients meet their tax obligations by giving them tax advice. This involves compliance work and applying tax solutions to maximise the client's tax liability. I work in a variety of tax areas, but specialise in small- to medium-size businesses and personal tax. I also have a few clients in the rental property area.
Now and then I get people coming with overdue returns. I have one client who hasn't done their returns for up to 15 years, but surprisingly, they still have all their tax records!
I'm used to doing late returns, so it's the clients who are usually stressed, not me. If the returns are for years prior to 2001, I do them manually as the accounting system only goes back that far; returns for 2001 onwards I do electronically. It's no trouble doing late returns – I like doing it even if it's up to 15 years late!
As people are so busy these days, I travel to client's premises or homes for their convenience. It saves them time and money.
You need a diploma or degree in accounting with subjects in taxation. However, to practice and charge a fee for your service, you will need to be a registered tax agent.
I completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with Honours in Accounting. I am also a CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) and a JP (Justice of the Peace).
There isn't a particular type of tax work I like doing. I like a variety of work. Business tax is a bit more complex than personal tax, but personal tax law changes every year. So both are equally enjoyable.
It helps to have done some work experience as most employers look for that as well as qualifications. But companies do take on graduates who have no previous experience.
One of the advantages I found working at KPMG is the pool of intellectual knowledge available. Being a large firm, I got to specialise in a specific industry, and was able to bounce ideas off my team.
Now that I run a small firm on my own, I do both the management and administration roles. Without a team to bounce ideas off, I have to keep up to date by attending CPA training courses, monthly tax discussion groups and reading up on tax news.
I like working with different people to help them achieve their financial goals and obligations. I also enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being my own boss.
The long hours I have to work during the tax season. Sometimes I don't get home for dinner till 9 or 10pm.
One of the challenges would be dealing with complex tax issues. By keeping myself updated on the latest tax developments, it makes overcoming tax issues easier. Another would be the competitiveness of the industry. There are lots of tax practices offering the same services.
Good time management and analytical and organisational skills. You will also need to have an eye for detail and good people skills. The ability to problem-solve is a must.
As I'm my own boss, I have the flexibility to control my working hours but knowing when to work and when to rest is important. I balance my working hours by planning extracurricular activities around my work schedule.