From the intransitive to the transitive: emerging the Australian tax profession as a profession in its own right

Ferraro, Ruth (2017) From the intransitive to the transitive: emerging the Australian tax profession as a profession in its own right. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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Well-established professions determine their own pathways to professional status and bestow professional inclusion and privilege. Professionalisation is a transdisciplinary phenomenon, aptly astudied through the lense of Institutional theory, which, at a societal level, Carillo and Zazzaro (2001) recognise has the power to influence economies and place controls on those who assume the mantle ‘professional’. Importantly, professionalisation informs and influences lawmakers and regulators whose interest lies in consumer protection (Professional Standards Councils (PSC) and Professional Standards Australia (PSA)).

Education has an important role to play in professionalisation and in the creation and distribution of knowledge upon which professional skills are perfected, thereby shaping the professional entrant. However, not only does a profession need to have ownership of its Education, it must also have in place the other four (4) artefacts of the ‘grand professions’, namely the Elements (Es): Ethics, Experience, Examination and Entity (Professional Standards Councils Academic Model).

The education sector (predominantly universities) cannot achieve professionalisation in isolation from the associations that engage in an as-yet-unnamed quaternary sector (professional education), for it is only these bodies, as collections of like-minded professionals and champions of their respective skills, that achieve the necessary coalition of Education with the remaining four E elements.

In Australia, the tax profession has drawn membership from a bifurcated stream – hitherto neither fish nor fowl (neither completely accountant nor completely lawyer) – and consequently has had a delayed-at-best, confused-at-worst educational pathway, ‘borrowing’ from these distinct disciplines which are delivered in parallel faculties. Therefore, the tax profession has not enjoyed the delineation nor the specific licensure that it deserves. It is deserving because of its substantial body of knowledge and the positive individual and societal impact of good tax advice. Tax professionals have consequently had difficulty in finding a unified voice to proclaim tax as a profession in its own right.

The necessary educational, capability-building and regulatory governance expertise to differentiate the tax profession and provide that voice are reified here in the public works which have established a clear educational pathway and entity registration. While in 2005, The Tax Institute, my employing organisation fulfilled the ‘Entity’ requirement of the day, that requirement changed in 2009. Therefore modernisation, compliance with changing regulation and expansion to include educational registration were necessary.

The nature of the tax professional’s work has also evolved during this time. Ethics and Experience became more explicit once the other three elements were developed. The pathway to become a tax professional has now been aligned to the regulatory frameworks which have recently evolved and that pathway has been future-proofed with an education program that anticipates the needs of the tax professional so that the emergence of the tax profession, once an obscure concept, has crystallised.

These public works are therefore presented as the necessary catalyst to form a profession where my efforts were applied in converting the intransitive verb ‘emerge’ to the transitive, and the profession as ‘emerged’.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Doctorates by Public Works
Item ID: 22307
Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2017 10:04
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:44

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