How Can I Become an IRS Agent?

Research what it takes to become an IRS agent. Learn about the educational requirements, job outlook and salary potential to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Accounting - Taxation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is An IRS Agent?

IRS or Internal Revenue Service agents are usually experienced accountants who review corporate or individual tax returns for compliance and errors. They also contact taxpayers if there are any issues or if they need additional documentation. They complete field audits and investigations, review financial information and maintain records. At times they may need to issue refunds or collect additional payments. They ensure tax returns are accurate .

The following table provides detailed information about this career:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, master's degree (recommended for career advancement)
Education Field of Study Accounting, business
Key Responsibilities Examine tax returns, recognize tax errors, enforce tax laws and regulations
Job Growth (2014-24) -6% for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents*
Average Salary (2015) $57,280 for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an IRS Agent Do?

If you love number-crunching, you might consider a career as an IRS agent. They are typically experienced accountants who examine personal and company tax returns for errors and completeness. As an IRS agent, you'll help people and corporations determine if they have underpaid or overpaid yearly taxes. You'll be expected to be an experienced expert in a variety of areas, such as standard accounting procedures, tax laws and tax regulations.

What Kind of Degree Do I Need?

It is highly recommended that you have an undergraduate degree in accounting or business. You might consider degree programs such as a Bachelor of Science in Accounting or Bachelor of Business Administration. You should expect to devote four years to the completion of an undergraduate degree program. Courses cover essential topics, such as:

  • Computerized accounting
  • Income tax laws
  • Federal tax accounting
  • Principles of auditing
  • Principles of accounting

Should I Consider a Graduate Degree?

Although a bachelor's degree is typically sufficient for most entry-level positions with the IRS, a master's degree, such as a Master of Science in Accounting or Master of Business Administration, might give you a professional edge. Master's programs typically take two years to complete and some programs may be offered on either a full-time or part-time basis. Essential topics covered include:

  • Issues in contemporary financial accounting
  • Business laws and ethics in public accounting
  • Accounting and auditing government agencies
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics

How Do I Get a Job With the IRS?

If you are a U.S. citizen and either have a college degree in accounting or business or you possess professional experience along with at least 30 hours of college coursework in accounting, you are eligible for an entry-level position as an IRS agent. You can apply directly for an agent's position in person at an agency location or on the IRS website (www.irs.gov).

How Much Will I Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents earned an average salary of $57,280 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Those who worked for the federal government earned an average of $67,110. Between 2014 and 2024, employment for these occupations is expected to decrease by 6%, due to government budget reductions. Those who possess knowledge in the tax regulations, codes and methods used by businesses and wealthy individuals should experience the best employment prospects, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other careers options similar to an IRS agent include a financial manager, loan officer, and personal financial advisor. These all require a bachelor's degree. A financial manager takes care of the finances in an organization by creating and reviewing reports and developing strategies to reach financial goals. Loan officers review and recommend approval on loan applications. They meet with applicants and discuss various types of loans available to them. Personal financial advisors help people manage their finances with advice about their personal investments, mortgages, taxes, retirement, and other financial responsibilities.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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