The aim of Advanced Taxation – Cyprus (ATX-CYP) is to ensure candidates can provide individuals and businesses with the information and advice they require regarding the impact major Cyprus taxes may have on various financial decisions and situations.
The emphasis is on the practical application of tax rules to client scenarios and the provision of clear advice and recommendations. It should also be noted that the ability to communicate with clients, the tax authorities and other professionals, is one of the four main abilities required of candidates sitting ATX-CYP.
ATX-CYP is directly underpinned by Taxation – CYP (TX-CYP). Knowledge and understanding of the technical content of TX-CYP is therefore vital for candidates to be successful at ATX-CYP. It is quite possible that some of the technical content of an ATX-CYP question is drawn from the TX-CYP syllabus. However, such a question will require the analysis of information provided and the application of technical knowledge to the situation, in order to resolve a problem.
The ATX-CYP syllabus expands on the coverage of income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, special defence contribution and value added tax (VAT). It also introduces stamp duties and transfer fees. The syllabus is wide, as befits an optional exam at this level. New technical content clearly identified in the syllabus and study guide, will be examined regularly.
While no part of the syllabus is more important than others, it should be recognised that knowledge of all technical areas of the syllabus is essential in order to pass the exam.
The technical areas included within the syllabus are set out in the syllabus and study guide on the ACCA website. Candidates should always check the website for the latest syllabus and study guide relevant to their exam session, to ensure that nothing has changed and hence the learning they are about to embark on is up to date.
For any given scenario, candidates must apply their knowledge and be prepared to:
All candidates must be familiar with the new legislation changes enacted up to 30 September of the previous year.
The ATX-CYP exam is currently offered in paper format only. This will change from June 2021 onwards and the exam will only be offered in a computer-based format.
ATX- CYP consists of two sections, A and B. Since June 2018, all questions in Sections A and B are compulsory. Questions 1 and Question 2 in Section A are worth 35 and 25 marks respectively. Question 1 includes 4 professional marks. Questions 3 and 4 in Section B are each worth 20 marks. Candidates are required to answer all questions in the exam. The entire syllabus is examinable in both sections of the exam.
The style of the questions in the ATX-CYP exam is intended to simulate real life scenarios. Candidates should not expect the client to explain to them all of the taxes involved, rather they should be able to identify and explain all of the tax implications of a given scenario.
Throughout the exam, candidates are expected to be able to identify issues, as well as demonstrate detailed basic and advanced knowledge of the Cyprus tax system.
Calculations are normally required to support advice and explanation, and not used in isolation. It is often left upon the candidates to decide what calculations to produce to do this in the most efficient manner. Advice how to approach a given issue may be provided in the question.
There is no specific allocation of marks for numerical calculations versus narrative balance within TX-CYP and ATX-CYP. However, TX-CYP is weighted towards numerical calculations, whereas ATX-CYP is weighted towards narrative explanations.
The ability of candidates to explain their treatment, opinion and advice is vital.
It is important to note that this does not mean that candidates need to write in perfect grammar or spelling; it means they need to be able to explain and communicate clearly what they want to say.
When preparing for the ATX-CYP exam, candidates need to go through several stages in order to be successful.
When students have an exam in front of them, even though the questions are all compulsory, it is recommended to start from the question they feel more comfortable with. By doing so, it will boost their confidence and they will have a better chance of passing the exam. In addition, students should pay attention to the following in order to maximise their chances of success in the ATX-CYP exam.
(1) Read the requirement carefully. The requirements are usually well worded to provide guidance as to the style and content of the answers. Pay attention to the command words (ie calculate, explain etc.) and any additional guidance given in the question.
(2) Produce a plan and write a list of what is required in the question. It may be helpful to tick off the tasks as they are addressed. Remember that marks are awarded for satisfying the requirements and not for other information even if it is technically correct.
(3) It is good exam technique to use headings and subheadings – eg:
(4) Candidates must write the rules relevant to the question and provide as many explanations as necessary. Then they must relate their knowledge to the case scenario and should not provide general explanations or long introductions. They should be specific and precise. Candidates should think before they write, and then write whatever is necessary to satisfy the requirement.
(5) Where the question requires it, candidates must (1) write how to pay the relevant tax (2) state the deadlines to pay and returns to submit (3) consider all relevant taxes – should not forget the Social Insurance Contribution, General Health Scheme, transfer fees, stamp duties where applicable.
(6) Always advise on how to reduce the taxes payable by the client using legal methods.
(7) When candidates are asked to calculate, there is no need to explain what they are going to do before they do it. Just show the calculation and try to carry it out in the most efficient manner. If there is a need for advice, compare the options and suggest the best course of action.
(8) Pay attention to the number of marks available – this provides a clear indication of the amount of time that should be spent on each question part. Ensure the allocated time is spent for each question (for example for a 20-mark question you will need 20 marks x 1.8 minutes per mark =36 minutes and should never exceed the allocated time).
(9) Finally, when attempting the real exam, it is important to follow the instructions of the exam and answer all the questions. This way a candidate will have the best possible chance of passing by attempting the 100 marks available in the exam in the time available. When a candidate does not answer all the exam questions, they are reducing their chance of passing as they will not be marked out of 100 marks but only the maximum marks attributed to the questions or question parts that have been attempted.
Good luck with your ATX-CYP exam!
Polina Jacovidou Michael, PwC’s Academy Cyprus