CTA versus ADIT

The battle of the professional tax qualifications – CTA vs ADIT!

This is a question we often get asked. Which is the best qualification for my tax career – ADIT International Tax Affiliate or CTA Chartered Tax Adviser?

The answer, of course, is – it’s not a battle. There’s no CTA versus ADIT. It’s about working out which is best for you.

Read on for tips on how to make your decision.
update - may 2023

CTA exams move to Test Centres

From May 2023, the CTA exams are being held in Test Centres. For the May exams, there was only one exam centre outside the UK, which was in Bangalore, India.

The ADIT exams remain fully online, and can be sat remotely from anywhere in the world.

Are you trying to decide on the next step to develop your tax expertise? Not sure if you should study for the CTA qualification or choose ADIT to specialise in international tax? 
This article discusses the key points of each qualification to help you decide on your best option.

Both ADIT and CTA are attractive qualifications which will benefit your tax career. The right choice for you will depend on where you are now in your career and where you want to go!

CTA – Chartered Tax Adviser

Originating with the UK’s Chartered Institute of Taxation, Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) is the leading qualification in professional tax expertise. It is internationally respected as a mark of technical excellence and professional integrity. Becoming a Chartered Tax Adviser requires an in-depth knowledge of tax legislation and its application to real life scenarios. A CTA can be relied upon to provide the highest quality tax advice to businesses and individuals.

The Chartered Tax Adviser qualification has increased in global recognition in recent years, with the CIOT licensing use of the CTA designations to the Irish Tax Institute, the Tax Institute in Australia, the Taxation Institute of Hong Kong and, more recently, the South African Institute of Taxation (SAIT). CTAs are members of one of these highly respected professional bodies, which share a commitment to pursue efficient tax systems.

CTAs follow a code of practice requiring them to advise only in areas where they have the geographical and technical expertise. For example, a CTA advising on UK corporate taxes must have expert knowledge of the UK corporate tax system. Similarly, a CTA practising in Ireland, Australia or South Africa and advising on corporate taxes is required to have expert knowledge of the corporate tax system in the relevant jurisdiction.

UK CTA Structure

Access to the CTA qualification is open to anyone and there is no requirement to have a prior qualification. However, the examinations are set at a high standard. To give yourself the best chance of success, if you don’t already have a previous qualification in accounting or law, the recommendation is to register for the Tax Pathway route to qualification.

The Tax Pathway is a route to membership of both the Association of Taxation Technicians and the CIOT. It brings together the exceptional tax compliance knowledge delivered by the ATT qualification with the CTA, the mark of quality for tax professionals.

The CTA structure allows you to choose areas of tax specialism (e.g. owner-managed businesses, employment & global mobility, VAT), while ensuring that you have a good awareness of the wider tax system. Studying to become a Chartered Tax Adviser gives you the building blocks for a successful career in tax, including developing skills like understanding tax legislation and interpreting case law. Many roles in the tax profession list being a CTA as one of the essential criteria – showing its value in the market.
Studying for CTA requires a significant time commitment and can be difficult to achieve without your employer’s full support, both financially and with study leave. The CTA papers are typically designed around a tax adviser in practice giving advice to external clients. You may find this a greater challenge if your background is in-house tax, which tends to be more hands-on and practical. If you already have the CTA or equivalent qualification in one jurisdiction you will have transferable skills & knowledge and, depending on the role you’re seeking, may not need to sit the CTA exams in another jurisdiction.

ADIT – International Tax Affiliate

ADIT offers an opportunity to go beyond your own country’s tax system and learn about how tax systems interact. In an increasingly global world, where even the smallest businesses can use technology to expand overseas, ADIT gives you a robust foundation in international tax to make you stand out from the crowd.

Advanced Diploma in International Taxation

ADIT is a practical qualification – combining academic understanding with real life application. You may already be working in international tax, having learned ‘on the job’ – the ADIT qualification fills the gaps in your knowledge and identifies you as a true international tax specialist.

If your home jurisdiction doesn’t offer a tax qualification on a par with Chartered Tax Adviser, studying for ADIT and becoming an International Tax Affiliate of the UK Chartered Institute of Taxation is your chance to gain a globally recognised tax qualification. When you become an International Tax Affiliate, you demonstrate your commitment to upholding the highest professional standards, and highlight your technical expertise and dedication to your career.

ADIT Qualification

ADIT offers a high degree of flexibility, allowing you to balance work & study commitments. The exams are modular, so you can take them in any order or all at the same sitting. You have plenty of time to complete the qualification, with at least 5 years to graduate.

To graduate, you must pass the compulsory Principles of International Taxation paper plus two optional modules, or one optional module and an extended essay on the subject & jurisdiction of your choice. The only prerequisite to register as a student & take the exams is an email address!
The core module – Principles of International Taxation – gives you a solid foundation in international tax without focusing on any one jurisdiction. Its syllabus covers key issues such as principles of international tax law, residence, double taxation conventions and treaty interpretation, transfer pricing, the work of the OECD and international tax avoidance.

You have free choice over your selections for the other two modules. You may choose to focus on the thematic papers to further develop your understanding of international tax in specific areas. Or you may choose to learn more about international tax rules in a neighbouring jurisdiction, e.g. Ireland, and a common headquarters jurisdiction, like the US or UK. Or you can choose to mix a thematic & jurisdictional option.

ADIT gives you the flexibility to design an international tax qualification to match your needs.

To learn more about the ADIT qualification, check out our Frequently Asked Questions section.