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Tooba Khan: Studying tax to aid Pakistan’s economic growth

Posted: 27 April 2023

Pakistan, Impact, In Australia, Scholar,

Tooba Khan is the Deputy Commissioner of the Inland Revenue Service in Pakistan. Having previously worked as a teacher in her hometown, Tooba is passionate about mentoring the younger generation to help them learn about taxation. With her Australia Awards Scholarship, Tooba aims to enhance her knowledge on international tax policies, particularly from Australia, so that she can help to reform the Federal Board of Revenue in Pakistan and propose effective amendments to tax laws in the country for better economic growth.

Tooba was featured as ‘the face of’ the Australia Awards – Pakistan promotions for study commencing in 2024. She took time to answer our questions below about her Australia Awards experience and offer her advice for prospective Scholarship applicants.

What made you decide to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship?

I started my professional journey as a teacher in the small city of Sukkur, Sindh, Pakistan. During my initial work experience, I realised the significance of policymaking as a means of bringing sustainable change in society. It was then that I decided to transition to the civil service. After passing the prestigious Civil Service examination, I landed in one of the most significant government organisations responsible for collecting taxes in Pakistan: the Federal Board of Revenue. Over the course of my career in the civil service, especially during my current tenure as Deputy Commissioner of the Inland Revenue Service, I witnessed the need for rigorous revamping of the Federal Board of Revenue for the economic development of Pakistan.

As a tax officer, I believe that it is crucial to gain academic exposure to international tax practices, and get acquainted with tax challenges in a digitalised world, in order to make a substantial contribution to Pakistan’s economic development by increasing its tax revenue. I wanted to get a high-quality education related to my field from a world-class institution that also offers diversity. I found this opportunity through an Australia Awards Scholarship. Australia is not only a hub of high-ranked universities, but the Australian tax system is also recognised as one of the most efficient and effective tax systems in the world due to its fairness, simplicity and transparency. Therefore, I decided to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship to achieve my aim of bringing a positive change in Pakistan’s taxation system.

Where and what are you studying?

I am studying a Master of International Tax at the University of Melbourne, located in the beautiful and culturally diverse city of Melbourne. So far, the experience has been truly amazing and transformative.

How has your Australia Awards Scholarship contributed to your personal and professional growth so far?

My Australia Awards Scholarship has contributed significantly to my personal and professional growth. My degree is explicitly designed for tax policymakers and public office holders who are developing the required skills for bringing brilliance in relevant tax policy decisions. It is not only accelerating my understanding of basic taxation concepts but its course modules (such as global digital tax, tax treaties, tax of innovation, comparative international tax law, etc.) have exposed me to current developments and future trends in taxation law. I am not only gaining new knowledge and skills pertaining to international taxation but also improving my leadership, networking and cross-cultural communication skills.

Tooba with other Victoria based scholars

Can you share how you are growing your professional network during your Scholarship?

I am actively expanding my professional network by attending various networking sessions and tax-related events, like seminars, conferences, book launches and workshops. I am a member of various student associations, including the Graduate Student Association and the University of Melbourne Islamic Society. Through the ‘Ask Alumni’ forum, I have also been able to connect with various alumni who are currently working in different national and international tax organisations. Moreover, I have been fortunate to be assigned a mentor under the Melbourne Law School mentorship program. My mentor is a renowned law professional in Australia who not only arranged my mentoring sessions but also connected me to tax professionals from the Australian Taxation Office.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience in Australia so far, beyond your academic studies?

My experience in Australia has been incredible. I have been able to explore the diverse Australian culture, its beautiful landscape and its enthralling wildlife. I have attended multiple food, music, arts, literature and sports festivals that have given me a deeper understanding and appreciation of Australia’s rich culture. Moreover, I have made enduring friendships with people from different parts of the world, which have exposed me to an altogether different perspective on life. I am really enjoying the warm and welcoming hospitality of the Australian people.

What do you hope to do in the future, particularly after your Scholarship experience?

I am looking forward to bringing valuable contributions to tax legislation and enforcement in Pakistan. Leveraging my enhanced analytical skills gained from my academic exposure, my aim is to propose effective amendments to the tax law, especially to unearth tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax fraud. Secondly, I also feel enthusiastic to work on broadening the tax base in Pakistan. I believe it’s an unexplored niche that needs specific attention from the tax policymakers in Pakistan.

Furthermore, being an educationalist and a passionate mentor, I have always dreamt of returning to my city, Sukkur, which is one of the less developed areas in Sindh. I intend to train the brilliant young minds of my city by transferring my years of field experience, coupled with my foreign learning exposure from the Australia Awards Scholarship. I will also try to improve and transform the current mindset regarding foreign education among the local people of Sindh.

Tooba with other Pakistani scholars at the 2023 Scholars Forum

Could you tell us about your Professional Development grant and what you did?

I was also fortunate to be awarded a Professional Development grant by Australia Awards, which provided me with an opportunity to participate in the Australasian Tax Teachers Association conference held in Brisbane. Not only did it enhance my understanding of the global tax challenges, but it also strengthened my knowledge about taxation in general. I also expanded my professional network, as I met tax teachers, tax scholars, tax professionals and consultants from various countries through the conference.

What advice would you give to potential Scholarship applicants?

My advice to potential Scholarship applicants is to stay focused and determined to achieve your goal. It’s a competitive and prestigious Scholarship that provides a unique opportunity to enhance your personal and professional skills. Despite the lengthy and challenging application process, with perseverance, dedication and determination, one can succeed in getting the Scholarship.