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UK Tax Market Report 2019/20: Interim

Amy Thomas Market Insight

The interim market for tax professionals continues to be extremely busy across all sectors and levels. Traditionally, interim tax support has been required to cover a permanent vacancy, busy periods such as year-end or parental leave, however, the following factors in particular have led to a notable increase in demand for tax contractors.

Firstly, there have been changes taking place around regulation, operating models, corporate structures and transformation which have led to businesses utilising contractors to undertake special projects,. This shows no signs of diminishing and candidates with experience of streamlining systems and processes are increasingly sought after. VAT professionals have been hugely sought after for MTD and other process enhancement and technology focused roles. The Big 4 accountancy firms are using more interim tax professionals to support their business and for client projects.Traditionally, interim tax professionals were generally the preserve of the in-house market, so this interest from the Big 4 represents a new and largely untapped market. 

We envisage a continued appetite from the Big 4 to introduce more contractors across all areas of tax. Brexit has also contributed to the increase in demand for contractors, with specific “Brexit Planning” contract roles being recruited for and the continued need for businesses to realign and restructure in light of this. The decision to work on an interim basis itself is gaining momentum as many candidates view it as a viable career option, with lifestyle advantages. There is a trend for businesses to accommodate a more flexible work force and candidates are looking more and more for flexibility with working arrangements. Pay rates for tax contractors remain competitive, with
companies prepared to a pay a premium to secure candidates with the necessary skills and experience, particularly in specialist areas of the market. Premium rates will be paid for high-calibre corporate tax specialists, working in corporate tax compliance and reporting which remain a core skillset. We envisage that the interim market will continue to grow as a result of companies and the professional services firms requiring specialists to work on projects focussing on areas such as indirect tax, Brexit planning and technology/transformation roles.

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