I know the idea of thinking about the best way to explain the tax system is not the first thought of the day for most people… But to start today…
This is what I think should occur in every tax training event or tax training document. Here are my six tax training rules.
1. The session or document must be “evolutionary”, being that they need to start from first principles and not assume substantial previous knowledge. With a technical discipline like taxation, once you have missed a learning step it is often not possible to engage later in the training.
2. The session or document must explain the “why”, being that it is easier to understand a certain provision of taxation legislation, if you first understand why the policy makers wanted such a provision to exist.
3. The session or the document must be “relevant and practical”, being that it cannot merely be a discussion of the provision of the legislation, but must discuss how a taxpaying entity would apply and comply with the provision, and how a revenue authority would collect any revenue that flows from the provision and ensure compliance with the provision.
4. The session or document must be “empowering”, being that those trained are confident to apply the provisions after they have left the session or read the document as they feel they have a detailed understanding of its purpose, its operation and its outcomes.
5. The session or document must be “open and respectful”. As taxation legislation and administration is very difficult to understand, the session must allow for participants to feel comfortable to ask open questions and responses must be respectful.
6. The session or document must be “fun”. Taxation training can be thought of as “boring” and if this is the case participants will engage less and be less confident as a result. Therefore, a tax technical session must be fun for the participants.
In addition to these six “taxation training” principles, it is important to apply general adult learning principles as proposed by Malcolm Knowles in 1970. These include:
1. Autonomous and self directed learning.
2. Learning that allows for an accumulated foundation of experience and knowledge.
3. Learning that is goal oriented.
4. Learning that is relevant.
5. Learning that is practical.
6. Learning where participants are shown respect.
Many of these factors are in my six tax training rules.
Now I have to live up to my rules.