At the centre of Cyprus’s accomplishment as a financial centre lies its taxation system. The 2002 tax reforms that took effect in 2003, coupled with the generous terms of our double tax treaties, have resulted in significant benefits for the Cyprus economy. The Cyprus holding company has enjoyed considerable success as an international tax planning tool. The strong calibre of professionals, the high quality of telecommunication services, and the stable political environment have been key elements in the growth of international interest in the Cyprus company. The tax system is undoubtedly the driving force behind this success and knowledge of this tax system is paramount for any person who will be working as part of the financial services industry in Cyprus, especially in related fields such as accountancy, auditing and business advising.
Paper P6 (CYP), Advanced Taxation enables candidates to acquire strong tax knowledge which is a fundamental prerequisite for a successful career. I firmly believe that an understanding of the material underlying the paper constitutes an invaluable asset. As far as training for a professional qualification goes this paper is undeniably one of the most important in the list of candidate papers for the Cyprus professional. I would like to stress this point. Paper P6 (CYP) will benefit candidates in their daily work, regardless of position or sector. What is good for their work is good for their employer and for their clients. This is the paper that I would expect candidates to seek out and get to grips with. The knowledge they will attain through the course will go a long way.
My philosophy is that questions should be more applicable to real-life situations. I will be trying to place candidates in the position that they would be in had a client walked into their office and discussed a business idea. The professional should immediately be thinking about the various direct and indirect tax implications, and proceed to give appropriate advice. In doing so, further information can then be obtained from associates through emails or from reading agreements and double tax treaties. This is the position the candidate will be in after having read a question. The requirements will then offer guidance as to the structure of the answer and as to what the examiner will be looking for. I do not see any educational justification in trying to catch candidates out in setting questions. I am testing their knowledge and awarding marks accordingly.
As far as the papers themselves are concerned they will follow the layout with which candidates have become accustomed. Part A will consist of two case-study style questions which in total will be worth between 50 and 70 marks. Section B will consist of three questions from which candidates much chose two. Section B questions will typically centre around one major tax area whereas Section A may test all taxes, both direct and indirect, within the same question. Exam technique is very important and will be the subject of a separate article. At this stage I would recommend that candidates prepare by answering as many questions as possible under exam conditions. Making good use of the 15 minutes that candidates have at the start of the exam is also imperative.
My suggestion is to primarily use this time to look through the Section B choice questions and decide which ones to attempt and to roughly allocate the time which should be spent on each question in the paper, and decide which order to attempt the questions. If there is any reading time remaining, it should be used to get an idea of what is required in Section A questions.
For the June and December 2010 papers, the content of the syllabus remained largely unchanged, other than the changes noted in the law in 2009, mainly being a change in the rates of social insurance and amendments to income tax and special defence contribution tax concerning interest income.
I believe, however, that there are areas of the syllabus that require greater emphasis, such as the place of supply of services for VAT, and certain areas where it would be better to remove emphasis, such as stamp duty as well as some VAT schemes. And this is what I will be aiming to do from the 2011 exams onwards. The end concept is not to overload the candidates with every detail of all the tax matters that candidates may or may not come across during their career. It is to make the material more relevant to the key day-to-day issues that professionals tackle. By making the syllabus more concentrated and focused I believe the paper will become more dynamic and offer even greater value to the candidates who chose it.
I work very closely with the publisher of the official Paper P6 (CYP) variant textbook, with the ACCA qualifications team, and with Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC) to this effect.
I also liaise closely with ACCA and ICPAC to make use of their websites to include my suggestions on such things as exam technique, tackling the paper and on topical issues concerning Cyprus taxation.
The ACCA syllabus has been developed over the years to give professionals wishing to work in Cyprus a more relevant development framework. Paper P6 (CYP) is, in my opinion, one of the most important papers in the qualification. The paper will offer invaluable knowledge.
I wish all Paper P6 (CYP) candidates every success in building a successful career.
Written by the Paper P6 (CYP) examiner