Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why should I enroll in this program?

Quite simply, the career opportunities as a tax professional are great. The demand for such professionals is increasing, the program has partnered with the experts in the field, and the work is challenging, diverse and stimulating - "It doesn't get much better than this."

You will have the opportunity to:

  • enter an attractive career path-at a level above the entry level.
  • enter this field without first having to complete the requirements of a professional accounting designation.
  • be employed in a tax practice during the work terms and on graduation.
  • learn from high-level tax practitioners and academics.
  • develop skills in reading tax legislation, researching tax issues and writing clearly and effectively.
  • gain an understanding of many tax and non-tax issues involved in business decisions.

What's special about this program?

The involvement and commitment of Canada’s major accounting firms is a unique feature of this program. The knowledge, experience and skills of top professionals from these firms are being directly channelled into the classroom. Additionally, the practice terms add a reality check to what is happening in the academic terms. The knowledge gained in class can be developed into skill through application to real clients in a dynamic tax practice.

What kind of background do I need?

You can enter the program with one of the following:

  • an honours undergraduate degree in economics or business,
  • a Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified General Accountant (CGA) designation, along with an honours undergraduate degree, or
  • a law degree.

Is any financial assistance available?

Financial assistance is available in five forms:

Am I guaranteed a job?

No, we do not guarantee jobs during the work terms or on graduation.  Variables beyond our control, such as the current job market and student-employer interview dynamics, make guarantees impossible.  We do, however, have a well-established process for helping our students secure employment.  For example, each year, new full-time students who’ll be applying for work term positions participate in our professional development workshop - Best Foot Forward - designed to prepare new tax professionals for the recruiting cycle.  We have a wonderful long-term track record of success with 100 percent employment for work term positions for many years.

Where else in Canada can I take a program like this?

The MTax is the only master’s program outside of Quebec designed to develop specialists for tax practice.

Will I be required to take the Pre-Admission course?

If you have applied for admission and the MTax Admissions Committee concludes that you need additional preparation in Canadian tax law, you will be required to enroll in the program’s pre-admission course.  You MUST pass the pre-admission course under the terms and conditions set out in your conditional offer of admission in order to proceed into the program.

Why is a University of Waterloo program being held in Toronto?

The significant concentration of tax professionals in Toronto makes it an ideal hub from which we can draw high-quality adjunct faculty who contribute to an outstanding learning experience.

Can I live outside Toronto and commute to classes?

Students who live in and around the GTA commonly commute to classes held at the MTax learning centre in downtown Toronto.

Why is the program offered on both a full-time and half-time basis?

A half-time study option is available for professionals who want to earn an MTax degree while maintaining tax-related employment. Half-time students should expect to spend, on average, approximately 20 to 25 hours per week on program-related activities including classes. Depending on an individual’s background, more dedicated time may be required.

On average, what’s the study time expectation for full-time students?

Full-time students should expect to spend, on average, about 40 to 50 hours per week on program-related activities including class time. Depending on an individual’s background, more study time may be required.

How do the study streams differ between full-time and part-time?

The part-time study option involves six consecutive academic terms over a two-year period.  The full-time study option is comprised of three academic terms with two practice terms interspersed between the study terms, over a 20-month period. Work terms are not offered for part-time students because they are already employed in tax-related activities.

Do accounting firms hire people without professional designations?

Yes. Increasingly, firms are looking to non-traditional sources for future tax professionals. There are partners in these firms who are not professional accountants, and it is expected that this trend will continue.

What kind of work will I do during the work term?

The type of work students undertake while on a work term varies depending on the individual’s background and the opportunities available in their employer’s office at that time.  A survey of our students indicates work is quite varied depending on the position and employer.  Examples of the types of tax-related activities our student do on their work terms include preparing tax provisions, researching a complex issue, preparing a planning memo that involves a section 85 tax-free rollover, corporate tax returns for multi-nationals and interacting with the CRA on a tax matter.

 

Do I have to work for an accounting firm?

No, during practice terms and upon graduation you can work for any employer you choose. In fact, working during practice terms is not even required to graduate.

What kind of jobs might I expect as an MTax graduate?

The types of places you might work as a tax professional include:

  • Tax practice area of an accounting firm
  • Tax department of a large corporation
  • Canada Revenue Agency in audit, large case appeals, support to the Dept of Justice, etc.

How will MTax help me communicate as a tax professional?

All students participate in two fundamental seminars: client-focused writing skills and presentation skills.  These seminars are designed to provide foundational knowledge.  The program curriculum builds upon this core knowledge increasing our students’ communication competencies as tax professionals.

Who are the program instructors?

Faculty in the MTax program include a mix of full-time faculty from the University of Waterloo and senior tax professionals from professional tax practice who bring their very specialized knowledge to their courses.

Will I spend all of my time memorizing tax rules?

No. We want you to graduate as a tax adviser, not as a tax technician. This distinction is the difference between someone who can only do technical research and someone who can deal with the client, making tax recommendations and integrating them with other factors into an effective overall plan.

The program offers significant technical content but also emphasizes skill development. Considerable time will also be spent on the non-tax issues that must be considered in developing a comprehensive plan that will accomplish the client's objectives and, at the same time, minimize tax.

What library access will I have?

As a graduate student in Ontario, you will have full access to the libraries of all Ontario universities. Access to the Canadian Tax Foundation library is also available. In addition, students have access to an extensive array of professional research material.

How is the material delivered in the classroom?

Learning outcomes are accomplished through the use of problems, simulations, and case-based activities that mirror real-life scenarios.

What's going to make the difference?

Attitude! The classes provide the knowledge, the practice terms or your current employment provide the experience and you provide the attitude. All three are vital to your future success.

What skills are desirable for successful tax practice?

The program has developed a Learning Model designed to foster the development of unique strengths and qualities that distinctly position our graduates as highly valued professionals in the Canadian tax community. Graduates have not only the academic and practical experience needed to succeed, but also the communication abilities, professionalism and know-how needed to embark on thriving careers.

Contact Joyce Becker with queries about the information provided.