Trainee tax experts will have the chance to earn two professional degrees following a team-up between HM Revenue and Customs and Manchester Metropolitan University.
The four-year 'Tax Academy' course, free to HMRC staff, was devised by tax experts within the university’s Accounting, Finance and Economics faculty and it will mix university-based and online study with work-based and academic assessment.
As part of its drive towards increasing tax professionalism, HMRC staff will be able to work towards a certificate, foundation degree or an honours degree in Professional Studies in Taxation. The Association of Accounting Technicians will accredit the certificate course.
Two hundred and fifteen HMRC staff are currently working towards a degree and this number is expected to double by next year as more tax professionals are recruited.
Dave Hartnett, HMRC Permanent Secretary for Tax, said: “We know we have great people doing great work that deserves to be recognised. We want to be seen as a leader in tax, both in the UK and internationally, and the launch of the Tax Academy is a really important step towards that goal.”
The academy will offer tailor-made training at various locations around the country, as well as MMU. Although hands-on learning will form a core part of the tax profession degree, staff on the courses will be expected to pass both exams and practical assessments.
Nicole Newbury, head of the HMRC tax academy, described how the additional skills would help give staff the confidence to take on the best of the private sector tax experts in tax disputes.
“Graduates at HMRC are the senior tax investigators of the future, but some of our graduates will be straight out of university and will never have worked a tax case in their life,” she added.
The Tax Academy will also support staff in maintaining and developing their skills throughout their career, ensuring that HMRC has the highly trained people it needs to combat tax avoidance, evasion and fraud, an issue that is causing public debate following last week’s budget announcement.
Around 1,400 HMRC staff are expected to study one of the three training courses this year.
Welcoming the announcement, the Associate Dean for Enterprise at MMU’s Business School, Dr Mary Meldrum, said: “Congratulations to the team who have developed this joint programme. Again it puts MMU at the forefront of professional workforce development in the area of business and finance.”