My Career in Tax

Nick Haines, Head of Tax at Hazelwoods

How long have you worked in tax?

21 years. I started out as an ACA trainee. I was then asked to provide maternity cover in the tax team in 1999 and never looked back.

What do you most enjoy about working in tax?

The variety of work. Every day throws up a different challenge. The legislation is so extensive that you are always learning.

Are there particular specialist areas of tax that you most enjoy and why?

I consider myself quite a generalist, but I am the firm’s specialist for SDLT. I consider this a growing area, with solicitors steering clear more and more for fear of giving tax advice, whilst it is becoming more complex every year with lots of traps that you need to be careful of.

What advice would you give someone who is ambitious to fast track their career in tax?

Find an area of tax that you really enjoy and use that to raise your profile in your firm and generate fees; I am sure the promotions will then follow.

Is there anything you would do differently now if you were just starting out in tax?

I am sure there are examples where I could have done something better, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and I try not to think about the past, only the future. Getting to Head of Tax must mean I’ve done most things alright!

What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing tax professionals over the next decade?

Whilst automation and AI will no doubt impact on the compliance side, tax professionals will still be essential for advisory work. Whilst legislation will continue to get more and more complex, perhaps the biggest challenge I see is the increased administration burden being placed on the profession that detracts us from being able to do our day job. I can only see this getting worse, as the government and HMRC impost more and more filing obligations that actually achieve very little.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

I enjoy meeting people, both internally and externally, and helping them solve their tax problems, whether it’s issues that they have with HMRC, or helping them avoid falling into a tax trap. My team definitely help me to have a laugh from time to time as well, which is definitely needed when you work in a high risk area like tax!

Why would you recommend someone should work in the tax team at Hazelwoods?

It’s all about the people and we have a great team here at Hazlewoods. We all work hard, but we do have fun along the way. There is a great team spirit and camaraderie, so nobody feels as though they are in it alone. We have a huge support network with everyone helping each other out to meet the numerous deadlines that we face as a team. The firm also provides an opportunity to live in a stunning part of the country and enjoy a great work / life balance

Simon Baines

Pete Miller

Paul Whiteley

Nick Haines

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