New EADA Master’s Degree in Tax Advice
EADA launches a new Master’s Degree in Tax Advice, the only programme on the market with a 100% Executive format, targeting lawyers and economists seeking to update their knowledge in this field, and all professionals from fields related to tax. The new master offers students high tax specialisation, with a very practical approach based on solving real cases. We talk about all this with the programme director, Sergio Gorina, head of the Giménez-Salinas firm’s tax department.
What needs does the new EADA Tax Advice Master’s Degree cover?
At EADA, we have designed this programme to meet the training needs of certain professional profiles not adequately covered on the market. By analysing the current training available for tax, we can see it essentially focuses on junior profiles –very recent graduates or with two years of experience–-. Also, in most cases, methodologies requiring several classroom hours are used, and the theoretical lectures heavily outweigh the practical class hours. Therefore, through the EADA Tax Advice Master’s Degree, we have created a genuinely adequate product for professionals with an older average age, seeking to obtain high tax specialisation in a practical, streamlined format, in a short space of time. It is the only course on the market with a 100% Executive format.
What is the target market for this Master’s Degree?
The programme has two main targets. Firstly, lawyers and economists already regularly involved in tax advice and seeking to update their knowledge with the latest legislative developments, the latest doctrinal trends, or the most recent administrative and jurisprudential criteria. Secondly, all professionals from fields related to tax -e.g., auditors, controllers, financiers, bankers or lawyers involved in company tax advice- seeking to gain a high tax specialisation, either to complement their profession or replace it and work professionally in tax advice. In short, it is for professionals with a limited amount of time, who start the programme with differing levels of prior knowledge in each tax area and seeking to obtain practical knowledge to apply to their jobs.
In your opinion, what are the programme’s most innovative features?
Firstly, as I mentioned before, I’d highlight the efforts we’ve made to reduce the programme’s classroom hours –to half compared to other similar courses– without decreasing the learning objectives. For this, we’ve designed a practical programme hinging on two areas: different tax fields (personal and property, business, international and contentious tax) and levels of knowledge in each area. The latter is the most innovative feature, because it involves dividing each tax area into three levels: Tax fundamentals, Advanced taxation and Tax planning & specialised courses.
Please explain each of these training levels.
We’ve called the first level Tax Fundamentals, because it aims to standardise, across the different student profiles, the basic legal-tax knowledge for each tax area. It focuses on essential content that students can acquire in blended learning format due to some notes specifically drafted with numerous self-explanatory examples. This module will allow students to focus from day one on the most complex content, based on a high minimum level of knowledge from the outset. The second level –Advanced Taxation– seeks to deepen knowledge in each of the modules covering the different tax areas. This section analyses the most relevant taxes and works on the most complex content requiring interaction with the lecturer or the group. Lastly, the Tax Planning & Specialised Courses is a higher level, where students acquire an overall vision of the interconnection between the different taxes, and will learn tax planning techniques.
What roles does a tax adviser currently perform?
A tax adviser’s functions go far beyond checking that a certain operation meets all legislative requirements to apply certain tax benefits. One of the adviser’s roles involves asking if, in this specific case, the operation makes economic sense, to respond to valid economic concerns other than obtaining a tax advantage. Another example could be reviewing the fiscal strength of already existing structures designed to exploit the tax benefits of family enterprises or certain international agreements to prevent double taxation, and detect if they would pass the economic substance test or not. Furthermore, modern professionals working as tax advisers must have fine-tuned “fiscal common sense” to identify the risks their clients must incur as well as the fiscal opportunities they can legally benefit from.
Nowadays a tax adviser must have fine-tuned "fiscal common sense" to identify risks and opportunities
Therefore, we would be talking about greater specialisation and professionalisation.
For sure. The legal and tax service sector has been becoming more professional for years. In this sense, general lawyers, all-rounders, were replaced a while back by specialists in commercial, tax and labour law. For large firms, we’d be talking about real experts in VAT issues, Corporate Tax or ex-pats with the aim of streamlining resources.
What challenges does the modern tax adviser face?
We are currently living in a globalised economic environment, with continuous transactions crossing national borders, with an expanding digital economy blurring traditional tax regulations on physical presence in the territory. There is also extensive freedom of movement for capital and labour, which allows tax domicile changes, the use of investment vehicles located in other countries or the diversification of financial and property investments by natural persons, companies and large estates relatively easily. I’d also add another factor: the Tax Administration now has increasingly powerful IT tools, providing real-time information (e.g. with the new Immediate Supply of Information), allowing increasing efficiency in combating fraud through the use of Big Data (cross-referring data, searching for behaviour patterns and discrepancies, etc.).
Globalised economic environment, new IT tools, team management and a commercial perspective are some of the challenges the tax adviser should face
To what extent does accessing this profession becoming increasingly demanding?
Solid legal training for lawyers is essential, but not enough, as lawyers must also speak different languages, adequately use new technologies, manage teams of people and, most importantly, have commercial insight. However, it should not be forgotten that, although these skills are extremely important, this does not mean that advisers should lose sight of their legal training, as this is the essence of expertise, and therefore professionals must receive continuous quality training allowing them to be permanently up-to-date and to develop this “fiscal intelligence” or “fiscal common sense”.
Where is taxation headed? Do these challenges change much for international taxation?
Given the earlier assumptions, taxation is headed, in my opinion, towards four different scenarios. The first is related to greater control and transparency for all types of operations. Secondly, I’d highlight greater collaboration between states. The recent signing of the multilateral agreement on the erosion of tax bases and the transfer of benefits is a clear example of the radical change driven by the OCED in this field. The third scenario involves the increasing presence in this area of transfer prices as, due to their volume, the most significant operations are made within the same multinational group (it is estimated that these represent over 60% of global commercial transactions). Lastly, there is also probably more litigation in tax matters, as states have high public deficits that must be balanced through tax increases.
What is your professional experience in the legal and tax field?
I’ve been working in this area for almost 20 years. I currently work ‘of counsel’ at the Giménez-Salinas firm, which specialises in tax planning for property and inheritance issues for family companies, property tax, restructuring operations and contentious tax. I had the chance to do an internship in a major firm (Vialegis) where I learned the trade directly from an excellent teacher, Ángel Blesa, who had been Head of the Regional Inspectorate of Catalonia). I remember that during these years, we worked on numerous property tax matters, planning for family companies and contentious tax issues. I later worked at EY Abogados in the company tax and international tax departments for large multinational groups. Afterwards, I moved to a smaller firm (Tac Consultants) where I worked again on matters related to family company tax, restructuring of family groups and inspections and resources.
How are you tackling the challenge of leading the EADA Tax Advice Master’s Degree?
EADA is certainly an excellent institution. I’d highlight its extraordinarily professional team and determination to continue growing and improving the quality and quantity of its educational offer on a daily basis. I’m delighted to be part of this project, designing a new programme, different to what’s already available on the market. I think we’ve created a modern Master’s, in line with the needs of the target market, to which I’ve been able to contribute both my insight as a professional regularly working in tax advice and my past experience in programme design and knowledge of the legal and tax market needs due to my previous role at ESADE Business & Law School.
Sergio Gorina provides more details about the programme in the following video: