The history and development of the taxation profession in the UK and Australia

Frecknall Hughes, Jane and McKerchar, Margaret (2013). The history and development of the taxation profession in the UK and Australia. In: Tiley, John ed. Studies in the History of Tax Law, Volume VI. Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp. 421–448.



The aim of this paper is to examine and contrast the history and development of the tax profession in the UK and Australia. The growth in the complexity, volume and importance of taxation legislation in both jurisdictions has resulted in taxation becoming a distinct and highly specialised profession, though one which is often regarded as fragmented, given the diverse backgrounds of its members. The tax profession includes (but is not limited to) solicitors, barristers, accountants, employees of revenue authorities and tax experts working within industry. Its members also include those who are officially designated as ‘tax practitioners’ as a result of their membership of tax dedicated professional bodies, such as the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT, formerly Institute of Taxation (IOT)) in the UK, and the Tax Institute (TI, formerly Tax Institute of Australia (TIA)) in Australia; or by virtue of regulatory bodies such as the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) in Australia.

The diffusion of taxation practitioners as described above has had a major impact on academic studies of tax practitioners in terms of omission, as no one has examined how this diffusion has occurred, the history underlying it or the professionalisation of taxation. This research aims to address this gap in the context of the UK and Australia. Whilst tax advice is given by many, it appears that the origins and driving forces of the establishment of the tax profession can be traced to the accountancy profession.

This paper considers the context of the development of the CIOT and TI in the light of the formation of professional accounting bodies generally, and traces their history and relationship from inception to date. The paper is based on archival research and provides insights into the emergence of the tax profession, the visions held by its foundation members, and assesses the contribution of the dedicated professional bodies in advancing the tax profession in both the UK and Australia.

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