Taxation logo taxation mission text

Since 1927 the leading authority on tax law, practice and administration

Make some noise!

Every tax adviser can and should record a podcast, says DANIEL SELWOOD

First there were Geoff and Diana Jones, and then came Osborne and Cable. Now, the tax world has a new double act: an inquisitor with a mild, nasal Yorkshire accent and an enthusiastic correspondent with the slightest Brummie brogue.

That’s me and Mike, Taxation’s editor.

Every Friday afternoon, we sit in a small meeting room with a pair of teeny microphones linked to a digital recorder, and we chat about the main articles in the forthcoming issue of our magazine. Mike summarises them and adds his own view of the subject matter. I ask a few questions.

The audio is then edited (by me) using the software Audacity. On Monday morning, the resulting clip goes live on this website as a free, downloadable tool for busy tax professionals. We know the sound quality and editing aren’t of the highest variety, but we’re certain our podcast is listenable and useful.

My boss and I are far from the only tax people who record podcasts for other tax people. Online audio for the profession is available from many organisations – including HMRC and big firms like KPMG – and that is good news. What would be better news is every tax pro making some online noise, at least now and again.

Podcasts are the perfect format of this pushy, on-demand media culture of iPad, Sky Plus and LoveFilm. They’re handy files that can be run immediately on their respective websites, or popped on to any portable device that can handle digital sound and then played at the user’s convenience, while he or she travels home on the train, works out in the gym or what have you.

From the provider’s point of view, they’re a cute marketing tool and offer added value to (potential) clients. (Taxation’s offering can be enjoyed as a standalone service or in conjunction with our e-newsletter Taxation in Three Minutes, which is delivered to inboxes every Wednesday morning. You can subscribe via the box to the right of this article.)

The Chartered Institute of Taxation’s podcasts are an example of all of the above positives. The body’s George Crozier says the audio is intended to ‘explain the tax system and communicate with our members’ and complement the wealth of written material the institute offers on its website.

The subject matter is a well-judged mix of general tax issues and technical matters; it is recorded whenever a big subject crops up in the tax industry, the CIOT launches a major publication, or someone at the organisation simply has a good idea for a podcast.

That’s a beauty of podcasts: all you need is a notion, a room without horrible acoustics, a digital recording gadget (a handheld dictation device will do) and basic editing software. The CIOT’s web wizard, Michael Woolley, uses mikes plugged into his laptop, and he records directly to Audacity, which can be downloaded for free and is easy to get to grips with; there are user manuals all over the internet.

Back in 2004, when podcasts first caught on, it was big firms that exploited the format. These days, there’s no reason why any tax pro with a website shouldn’t produce an audio file.

There are few things to bear in mind when recording. Try to involve more than one person; a Q&A format is best. A single speaker isn’t as engaging; listeners will probably drift off – and they could become confused by several voices.

Attention span is a major factor to consider no matter how many people are talking: try to keep the recording short-ish. You should, ideally, make your point in no more than ten minutes. (At Taxation, we aim for six or seven.) If you’re not practised in broadcasting, take a dry-run or two. A slicker recording will mean less time editing.

Once it’s ready to go, upload the sound clip to your site: attach it to a page or article for the easiest solution, which will demand that you keep the length – and therefore the size – of the clip to a minimum; you don’t want big files usurping your bandwidth. From there, you can offer your podcast via an RSS feed and iTunes – but that’s a topic for another week’s column.

If as a result of this article you choose to record a podcast, let me know; I’d love to hear it, and I’ll most likely give it – and you – a mention on

back to top icon