My Tax Story III
- Was taxation a conscious career choice for you or did it ‘call’ you?
I would say it was a combination of both. I had never been in love with numerical subjects although I liked taxation law and consciously offered it as an elective course during my undergraduate studies. After flopping a recruitment process during the numerical aptitude test stage, I became resolute to crank up my game as far as numerical subjects are concerned and enrolling for a professional certification in taxation with the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) presented a ‘win-win’ for me. The CITN courses forced me to face and triumph over my non-affinity for numerical courses and being chartered in taxation offered the opportunity for a niche practice. During my recruitment process at AELEX, one of my interviewers was the current Managing Partner who is the head of the Tax Practice group. One of my scenario questions was on taxability of illegal moneys and I suppose my answer impressed him well enough. I got the role and subsequently started working very closely with him. Since he heads the Tax Practice, I suppose it was inevitable that I would end up practising tax. Ultimately, I would say my experiences subconsciously prepared me for a career in tax and since I found myself in it, giving it my best shot was the sensible thing to do.
- What challenges did you face on your career path?
I would say understanding the complexities of taxation practice was an initial challenge. Most of my clients were international oil companies who were in tax tussles with the FIRS running into billions of dollars on issues such as computation of capital allowances among others. With my initial disinterest with numerical subjects, one can contextualise the initial struggle I had as IOCs are not the sort of clients whose work you want to run the risk of muddying up. This challenge prodded me to self-study and to ask questions. With that came an increase in understanding and a surge in confidence
- Are they over now or are there still challenges?
That initial challenge has been overcome though I would add that even with growth comes new challenges. When I face new challenges, I sometimes look back to how I overcame past ones and I apply same principles with necessary adaptation to overcome the new challenges and to make them history.
- In the era of seeming specialization, what advice do you have for people looking towards starting a career in taxation?
In as much as passion and interest should drive one’s choice, the place of strategy should not be downplayed. My advice would be to pay attention to the emerging tax trends and strengthen oneself to be able to add value therein. This would make it easier to carve a niche for oneself in tax practice noting that value-adding is always sought after.
- What has been your wildest/ craziest experience as a tax practitioner?
My wildest experience as a tax practitioner was having to file a non-routine application at the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) incorporating last minute comments of the client twenty minutes before sitting commenced, meanwhile there was no printer or laptop in view as I and my colleague were already in the TAT. I had my mobile phone and data. Fortunately, I had a word processor software on the phone with which I cleaned up the document. I had cordial relations with the TAT staff and luckily, I carried a flash drive in my purse which came in handy. With the aid of data and technology, the file was transferred to a desktop, connected to a printer and out chugged the document. Filing was completed two minutes before sitting and the rest they say is history. The client’s application was granted. That was such an adrenaline-surge moment!
- If there was anything in the tax space you wish you did, or didn’t do, what would it be?
I wish I had commenced and completed my tax certifications earlier than I did, but as they say, all is well that ends well.
Adefolake Adewusi has been in active legal practice for nine years. She is an LLM & LLB graduate of the University of Lagos, and a Senior Associate in the Tax Practice Group at AELEX – a full service Commercial & Dispute Resolution Law Firm. Adefolake possesses professional certification in tax from The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) and has completed the Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT) coursework to become an International Tax Affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, UK. Adefolake also possesses cognate experience and certifications in corporate governance, arbitration, employment & human relations.
During her leisure, Adefolake enjoys music, gisting, reading, writing; and runs a blog, Crazy Sanity (pholarke.com), which reflects these interests.