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Anyone know much about HMRC? Tax Development Programme

(39 Posts)
emsyj Wed 25-Apr-12 18:31:01

I've just been offered a place on the HMRC TPDP starting this September and was wondering if anyone has any experience or knowledge to share? There is an introduction/info day in London in June, but I am really desperate for anything you can tell me about the availability of flexible working on this scheme.

I have kinda assumed that it is full time for the 4 year training programme but if there is any prospect of any reduction to the working week (don't care if it takes me 10 years to qualify, not worried about money just want to crank up the brain cells a bit and wear nice heels). Also, is flexi-time available to people on this programme?

Any info gratefully received! smile

vivien1 Mon 02-Nov-15 07:58:50

Hi, i have just registered for the HMRC graduate programme and i am yet to do the stage 1 test. please i need advice and help, as i truely want to be part of the training programme. Is there any where i can practice a similar test? or what will u advice i do to help me prepare better as the deadline is 24th .thanks

jessie1471 Thu 31-Jul-14 11:53:39

Sorry just reread thread and seen TPDP's stat that 25% fail, that means 3/4 of people pass, doesn't seem too bad odds once you're actually on the course then! Still any further insights anyone has would be great, thanks.

jessie1471 Thu 31-Jul-14 11:45:20

Hi, sorry I know this is an old thread but I'm thinking of applying for this program and have a further question not covered above - the pass mark for the exams seems extremely high, compared to the academic and accountancy exams I've done so far. for anyone who's doing/done the program, how attainable is a pass in the exams and how tough are the exams? Are there many kicked off due to failure? If I were to get a place on the program, OH would like to stay at home for all/part of the week to look after LO, but if I fail an exam and lose the place, we'd then be in a bit of a mess financially, so there would be a lot riding on it.
Thanks to anyone who answers this!

emsyj Sat 12-Oct-13 22:58:26

Hi Akhan, regarding your medical condition I would say HMRC is probably one of the best places you could find in terms of making adjustments. I don't know much about lupus I'm afraid, you would be best to call the recruitment team to talk to them but they are exceptionally flexible as an employer and very proactive in making adjustments etc.

I don't know much about the exemptions available but I would imagine you could get some partial exemptions from the first module (book keeping) with an ACCA qualification. I am not aware that exemptions are routinely granted from any of the other course modules, but to be honest some of those entitled to exemptions on the book keeping papers in my intake didn't take them because they don't enable you to miss entire exams - only to have certain questions removed from the paper and your time reduced accordingly, which might make it harder for you to pass at the required level of 70%. You might be better off taking the full paper and knowing you will score well on the stuff you already know.

I hope that makes sense. If you call the recruitment team they will be able to help you further. There is a Facebook page for TPDP where they answer questions posted to the page. You can find it by searching for HMRC Tax Professional Graduate Programme.

Akhan90 Sun 06-Oct-13 02:14:01

Hi there,

I have been reading up on the programme and was wondering if i could get some information, basically I would like to apply for the programme but i had a few concerns, firstly i have SLE ( lupus ) a medical condition that sometimes effects my quality of life and work, is HMRC understanding of that? As companies havn't been much understanding.

Secondly i am currently doing ACCA and was wondering if i could get exemptions with the programmes modules?
Any help would be appreciated

Thank you smile

emsyj Mon 18-Mar-13 22:38:02

Hi summer, sorry this thread had disappeared off my watch list as there were no new posts for a while.

I will try and answer all your questions in order...

"am assuming the training course has to be full time"

No, I am returning on 4 days a week - one day is in tutorials, one day is study at home and the other 2 days in the office. When I asked for part time hours they said 4 days was fine, it's possible to do less but you would have to discuss this with the course director. The exams and study are fixed and everyone in the country does them at the same time, but there is a facility to extend the 4 years to do the practical elements of the course (i.e. the job-based competency stuff that you do in the office) by two lots of 6 months. I hope not to need to extend, but basically once you're on the course then so long as you are passing the exams, they want to help you to get through to the end.

"I was thinking about doing some distance learning to improve my chances of getting an interview"

This isn't how the recruitment process works: there is no interview as such. There are various online tests followed by a one day assessment centre that comprises group exercises, a mock client meeting, written exercises etc. These are observed by assessors and scored and then those with the highest scores are offered jobs - with the highest scoring applicants getting first dibs on preferred locations. The online tests are about your work style, maths, logic/reasoning etc and I don't think you can prepare for them really, although you may be able to find practice tests somewhere.

"I was thinking that starting a part time degree in accounts and finance might be a good idea. From what you've seen so far do you think that would be worthwhile / is there something else that the time would be better spent studying? "

I wouldn't bother, personally - it won't help you to get the job. There are some accountants on the course and they get some very limited exemptions from some of the study, but not much really. I had no accounts background (you will have more than most of the other candidates simply by having done solicitors' accounts rules - which in my day covered a basic overview of how double entry book keeping works - that's more accounts knowledge than you need to be honest, you will be taught what is required from scratch, you're assumed to know zero about accounts and finance).

"Also how have you found attitudes to flexible working for those who are qualified? Would it be frowned upon not to work full time once qualified at least for a few years. "

I don't know to be honest as I am not close to the stage of applying for a qualified post - but generally part time working is very commonplace and accepted in HMRC. There are lots of grade 7 and grade 6 people working part time, many are partially retired. There are currently more jobs than there are people to fill them, plus the culture of HMRC is very flexible so I can't imagine it would be an issue to be part time. Nobody has suggested to me that I won't be able to stay on 4 days when I finish the course and move on to a grade 7 post. There are tons of different jobs available, not all of which involve work that is time critical or customer-facing, so there should be lots of part time options I hope!

I hope that helps a bit.

summer7445 Fri 15-Mar-13 17:06:52

Hi emsyj. Congratulations on the baby (and the new job)!. Thank you for instigating all the above posts which are about the most helpful thing on the web when looking for info on the TPDP. I was hoping that you had time to give me a bit of advice. I really want to apply for the hmrc TPDP once I am in a position to do so. That will probably not be for a few years as I need my current part time hours for child care reasons and am assuming the training course has to be full time ( I also am on mat leave and getting scarily used to it which is not a good thing...) In the meantime I was thinking about doing some distance learning to improve my chances of getting an interview and see what studying again would be like. At present I am a lawyer but dealing exclusively with criminal law, so no tax or commercial knowledge or experience whatsoever. I was thinking that starting a part time degree in accounts and finance might be a good idea. From what you've seen so far do you think that would be worthwhile / is there something else that the time would be better spent studying? Also how have you found attitudes to flexible working for those who are qualified? Would it be frowned upon not to work full time once qualified at least for a few years. Thanks for reading this (if I've posted it somewhere that you will. I'm new to netmums so not very sure how it works)

emsyj Thu 28-Feb-13 21:21:44

Hello, I am now 6 months into the course (altho on maternity leave now, had DD2 3 weeks ago - they've been brilliant about it, boss and everyone else in the office all lovely - looking forward to going back smile). I have my tutorials in Manchester - all trainees from Manchester, Liverpool, Bolton and Warrington are taught in Manchester.

Most weeks you are in tutorial for one day, although occasionally there are 2 tutorial weeks and I've seen on the timetable for the rest of the first year and there are some weeks (rare ones) with 3 tutorials. It is a long day for me when you take account of travel, but bearable. We start at 9.30am and usually finish between 4pm and 4.30pm. It takes me quite a long time to get there, I leave the house at 6.45am and get home about 6.30pm usually.

If you call the graduate recruitment people or email them, they will tell you where the tutorial bases are. I should say that the Manchester trainees are not based in the same office where the tutorials take place, and the tutors are not based there either but travel for tutorials so the only benefit of working in the office where tutorials take place is that you'd presumably be living close by and so you'd have less travel.

Bear in mind that some of the locations that they offer you are not actually equipped to take trainees. One of the options when I was applying was Wrexham, but they don't take trainees, never have and don't have the facility to take them - so I have no idea why that location was listed. Locations are allocated in order of your results, so the higher your score at the assessment centre, the better your chance of getting your first choice location.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions that I can help with. I'm really enjoying the course.

secretagent247 Wed 27-Feb-13 21:50:52


Thanks for the posts on here, very helpful.

I have just attended the final assessment for this years TPDP and am told we will be asked to submit our preferred work locations on 8th March.

Just thinking things through and I have a question that I wonder if you would mind answering for me in regard to this.

Wondering how much of the programme you spend in the class room and where you have to go for this. I am thinking that I would like to go to Nottingham but am wondering if I may have to go to tutorials in Birmingham say.

Can you tell me where the places/cities/towns are that people have to go to for tutorials/classroom based study.Personally, I would like to work where I will be studying, can you give me an idea of where these offices are?

I'll probably have more questions as time goes on, any info is greatly appreciated.


skent19 Fri 07-Sep-12 12:31:35

Hi emsyj

Did you find out if working 8-4 or even 7-3 was okay during the programme.
I am looking at applying this year for the tpdp, and i was wondering if it was possible to start early and finish early.

Taxes Mon 28-May-12 09:47:37

I am a Grade 7 tax inspector. TPDP has given you loads of info on the course.

Couple of things to add:
- if your former work experience is in a law firm, be prepared for a significant culture shock. The civil service bureaucracy-led, process-focused way of working is very different from the outcome-focused, fee-driven culture you're probably used to. Doing a structured course will probably help with this, but be prepared for decisions to be taken for reasons which you do not agree with at all.

- TPDP has overstated the bottom of the G7 salary range, but maybe by the time you eventually get there it will be where she/he states.

- Work after you are spat out of the other end of the course is very varied - that's the great thing about working for such a big employer. I work with large companies and you do get an inside view on a lot of things, but there is everything from policy/technical to criminal investigations. Or abandoning taxes and going into management (regrettably the only way to promotion from Grade 7 these days).


TPDP Mon 28-May-12 09:17:43

Hi Pink,
First of all the application process. Not sure what the process is at the moment when I applied it was online tests, telephone interview and assessment centre. Most people fail at the online test stage obviously.

The first stage is just filling in the form and an online personality test - just answer honestly and you should pass it.

The online tests were mathematical, English (basic logic and reasoning) and a non verbal reasoning test. They put you under pressure but don't let that freak you out - I only got through half the maths and I still got through. Most people fail at the online stage. There are loads of online test samples online at SHL for example. If you google uni careers sites they also tend to have links you can use. I found the Kogan Page series of assessment centre books really good - can't remember all the names off hand but they should have them in the library and I used those for the online tests - especially maths - as that is my weak subject.

There are threads on wiki jobs and student room about past assessment centres - they do tend to change the tests at the assessment centre itself as people blab about them - but generally there will be group and written exercises, perhaps a mock interview (not tax related). As you have relevant work skills I wouldn't worry too much but it is worth thinking about the competences and how you can show them in the various exercises. Generally I found the group exercises the most challenging as you can't always predict the behaviour of the other candidates, yet you have to think on your feet and try and find ways to demonstrate what you can do. Read up on the various types of exercises, perhaps practice intray and decision making, report writing in case they come up - there are some practice tests on the Fast Stream Civil Service website but they are pitched at a much higher level. Otherwise see what there is at the library and also online. The most important thing to remember is that you are demonstrating the competences for the people assessing you so bear that in mind all the time! They send you a list of the competences before the assessment centre.

TPDP itself consists of 9 or 10 modules. You start with book keeping, sole trade and partnerships, company accounts, capital allowances, the various taxes - income tax, VAT, CT, other income. There are also soft skills that they test but are not formally examined. In the second half of the course you do much higher stuff like tax law, groups, international, accountancy etc. All the time you are working in the office as well and it is really important to stress that aspect - it is not just study.

Good luck and if you need to know anything else, please PM me or post here.

PinkPanther27 Fri 18-May-12 21:28:07

Thanks TPDP, this is extremely helpful. I'm a bit worried about getting onto the programme - I was actually gonna apply last Sept then found out I was pregnant, didnt think they would let me defer. I will def apply this year though. I didnt really do tax in my accounting experience (except through my studying --although the tutor was v bad and would stop halfway through a complex calculation saying it was wrong and start again mid flow--)
Is there any reading/exercises I can do to help me preppare and is there a list of what the course covers? My only experience of HMRC Tax experts has been when I ahd a v complex SMP case and it was referred to them and I tried to do my own research too which I found interesting but just wondered what else they do. I'm no longer in accounts, now Im an experienced Probation Officer but I'd say that gives me good life experience smile

emsyj Fri 18-May-12 20:23:02

That's brill, thanks! I've got a couple of dresses that will cover the 'smart' requirements I think, although I do need some smart shoes. I have a pair of skyscraper heels that I bought in Jones because the assistant was quite hot persuasive and they are really uncomfortable, so will get some ugly comfort shoes instead. Great that you don't have to be super-smart all the time - one thing I used to hate about office wear was that 'getting changed when you get home' thing (to prevent creasing, spilling your dinner down your front, sticky toddler fingers etc). Very relieved about that!

Thanks so much, I may come back to you yet again if I think of any more wink.

TPDP Fri 18-May-12 20:09:46

Believe me in my previous job most of the qualified Inspectors wore jeans every day. I have even met with agents in my jeans (I sat at a table and someone else met them at the door and brought them out so they didn't even notice). Some people keep a suit and stuff in work in case they have to go out (or occasionally someone turns up at the door - very rare). But at this stage you definitely don't need to. By smart I mean a trouser or skirt suit or even a skirt and shirt. If you prefer smart dresses those are fine. You don't have to wear heels - nobody bats an eyelid as long as you don't look scruffy.

You are unlikely to go to more than one or two meetings (as an observer or notetaker) within the first couple of months and after that maybe one or two a month on other peoples case or even on your own cases is pushing it. You might want to go out with other people like VAT or shadow someone in the enquiry centre but even so if you wear the same thing no-one will notice or if they did - even care. Sometimes one of the HMRC Directors comes to visit so some people want to dress up but you don't have to.

You could get away with a suit and a couple of smart shirts or one or two dresses. For the office and tutorials, casual is fine. Jeans, anything, whatever you feel comfortable in.

The hours sound fine. During the course there might be some times when you get a lot of records in or something and need to deal with them urgently or times when there is no study, but the week you describe would be average. The working week outside London is 37 hours. The minimum lunch break is 30 minutes. Normally you can leave and get in whenever you want as long at the work is done between 7am and 7pm. If you have child care commitments no one is going to stop you leaving on time. It is very rare that some sort of crisis arises that needs to be dealt with that minute and if it did someone would help you out. We don't have official flexi at our grade but if you work long hours one day no one is going to stop you leaving early the next - you just need to let your manager know and keep records in an agreed format.

emsyj Fri 18-May-12 17:52:21

OK just a couple more if you don't mind grin - it's great being able to pick your brain!

First thing, regarding the normal office wear situation, I will need to buy some new clothes as I have finally lost my baby weight (will probably regain it next time around, but that can't be helped) so I'm wondering how often you need to dress smartly (presume by that a suit or smart shift dress or wrap dress and heels would be okay?) and what you wear to tutorials (is it jeans informal at tutorials???) and what you wear in the office if you're not seeing clients. Sorry to be so 'needy' about this, I just want to be prepared and I have limited shopping opportunities thanks to DD so may need to start getting bits and pieces now in readiness.

Secondly, how easy is it to take advantage of flexi time? I am envisaging it will work something like this: 1 day tutorial (location tbc) fixed hours; 1 day study (work at home); 3 days in the office 8am to 4pm. How realistic would that be in your experience? I will obviously talk to the manager about it too, but just trying to work out in my own head whether part time is worthwhile or whether I should just take full time (with the full time pay) and go in early and finish early.

TPDP Fri 18-May-12 17:39:13

There will be PT or job share ops when you are finished - it is quite common and generally HMRC are quite family friendly.

TPDP Fri 18-May-12 17:37:12

I think you would be ok working part time as you already have a lot of the skills you would be taught anyway during the course. Any previous knowledge of tax helps. I think if you describe your previous experience your manager could look for work at the appropriate level. HR in my experience are quite unhelpful. Collar one of the people running the course at the open day, you will find them really helpful and they really want people of your calibre - they cam arrange for you to meet your manager and other trainees if HR drag their feet. There are always opportunities you need to be very proactive and volunteer for stuff otherwise if you are part time you may be overlooked.

emsyj Fri 18-May-12 15:53:45

How sad am I that I am quite excited by tax and the prospect of learning about book-keeping blush. All the tax work used to get passed to me in London since everyone else thought it was really boring! I am a sad case, but hopefully that will work in my favour!

Thanks so much for taking the time to give all your inside info TPDP. I now just feel that I need more info about the logistics so I will get in touch with HR about meeting my manager and try to get to the bottom of whether full time is likely to be easier/better/workable for me and my domestic arrangements. It worries me a bit that DD is a poor sleeper and often goes through periods of waking a lot at night - if she did that the night before an exam I would be in trouble!

I still feel torn because I really want this job but I am worried about how it will fit in with the rest of my life. I suppose it's only temporary though, given that I assume I would be able to reduce my hours once qualified...? I may have to suck it up for the 4 years in pursuit of the ultimate goal!

TPDP Fri 18-May-12 15:45:25

Emsy - RE the day to day work it varies. When you visit the office perhaps you can ask to shadow someone for a couple of hours.

TPDP Fri 18-May-12 15:43:45

Hi Emsy and Pink,
There is no dress code (but you are expected to look smart if you visit taxpayers or agents).
On study days you can normally stay home. We get around 10 hours per week. Therefore 1.5 days. I normally just take 1 though and save up a couple for exam time.
On tutorial days you just go to the study centre and assuming it is not your home office you don't need to go in.
Background varies - some are Russell Group and Oxbridge - some have worked for a few years. For most people I don't know, it really isn't important and no one really talks about it much.
I don't mean to frighten you about the exams - they are no picnic - with your backgrounds you definitely have the ability - as long as domestic issues don't get in the way. Normally if you have a domestic meltdown or something you would be able to defer that exam or occasionally defer the year. If people leave it is usually after the first exam but a small proportion drop out during the rest of the course. Normally it is domestic issues, lack of motivation or just lack of interest in the job.
The study is quite basic to begin with - book-keeping, tax aspects, accountancy aspects. You will probably be given SA taxpayers or close companies to investigate to begin with.
Later on you need to be able to interpret legislation but for most people that is a relatively small part of their eventual job.
Emsy - I would contact HR asap and ask to meet your manager. I don't find the HR people very helpful but most of the actual managers are (I don't think they go to the open day, at least mine hasn't been invited).
Pink - I would think about applying this September - you can always defer to start the next year if you are successful.
Good luck both!

PinkPanther27 Fri 18-May-12 15:01:40

Hi, still watching this thread eagerly (although somewhat concerned about the failure rate). Will chip in when i have time- 38 weeks pregnant and ds was up at 2am so time for a nap!

emsyj Fri 18-May-12 12:29:42

I guess if the workload is such that it makes part time difficult, I may as well think about doing full time and at least get paid for what I do. Do you go into the office on study days, or can you study elsewhere (e.g. local library or wherever)? I am just thinking about the logistics of drop off and pick up at the childminder, as DH works away quite often and also is out of the house very long hours so I will need to be the primary person doing the CM run.

On tutorial days, do you go back to the office afterwards or is that your whole day's work (due to travel)? I believe I would be going to either Liverpool or Manchester for tutorials - so if you're in either of those locations we may meet one day!

It would be useful to discuss with the person who will be my manager, I guess I will wait until after the welcome day (and see if they're there - no idea if they would be or not) and if it still seems like a good prospect, I'll contact them about that to find out more.

My work as a lawyer was initially trusts & tax and then I switched to pensions, so I am used to reading and interpreting technical legislation and have done some tax advice before - I am hoping that will mean that the course is well suited to my abilities, can you tell me any more about what sort of work you actually do in the office day to day? What sort of background are people from? In London, I worked with probably 70% Oxbridge grads (I am not Oxbridge myself though!!!) so I'm wondering if the demographic at HMRC will be similar? If so, and 25% fail then <gulp> - eek!

Just one more veh important question - what's the dress code??? grin

TPDP Fri 18-May-12 11:17:18

Hi OP,
I don't think failure is due to being lazy, but problems in respect of work life balance. If anyone in HMRC was lazy they would be out before the first exam.
Probably a pretty even split between those straight out of uni and those with some experience (Inc internal candidates).
Culture is pretty similar throughout the country not particularly London centric.
I think if you have relevant work skills that helps with the application process but as less than 1 per cent of applicants get through the whole process, it is not easy. I was with some very able applicants who didn't make it.
Personally I would ask if you can meet with your manager now and discuss what the job entails and the likely workload.

emsyj Thu 17-May-12 21:55:51

Only just seen the new replies to this, very interesting!

I'm quite stressed about the prospect of it being very full-on. I'm not really in the market for a full-on job - if I was, I would have carried on being a lawyer for a much higher salary. I am looking for interesting work and flexibility... I spoke to someone about part time working and he said that part time is fine but they recommend 30 hours a week over 5 shorter days to get through the course - any less and he said you would be doing work at home, although he said there are people working less hours doing the course...

I didn't prepare at all for the assessment centre, but I can see that I was at a clear advantage having worked for a number of years in a technical, time-pressured, client-facing job: I simply behaved as I would at work, and dealt with the written exercises in the same way. Some of the first assessment centre exercises involved drafting memos and emails, which I have been doing for years so that was probably a lot easier for me than I imagine it would be for a new graduate who has never had a job. I'm not sure I agree that experience of assessment centres is necessarily that helpful - I had only ever been to two others and that was ten years ago. I would say being a 'mature' candidate with real work experience in a comparable type of role is probably the biggest advantage you could have.

I'm still not sure about whether to accept the job, but I'm going to the welcome day in London in June so we'll see what happens. I really don't want to turn it down, but I really really really don't want to start it and fail! I would only start if I was convinced I would get to the end.

TPDP, you say that the failure rate is quite high - do the people who fail work really hard and still fail, or are they a bit lazy?? confused Are many of the people on the course mature candidates or are they mainly new graduates?

I got my location confirmation last week and it's my first choice, phew, so at least I wouldn't have much of a commute!

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