How Can I Become an IRS Auditor?

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

What Is an IRS Auditor?

IRS auditors ensure compliance with all tax laws and regulations. They review tax returns to ensure they are completed accurately. They do field audits to verify information and keep records of cases they have done. IRS auditors contact taxpayers if they need to pay more or if they are receiving a refund. They are responsible for keeping up to date with any new tax regulations.

The following table provides detailed information for this career:

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Training Required On-the-job training
Education Field of Study Accounting, business administration, economics
Key Skills Detail-oriented, organizational, interpersonal, analytical
Job Growth (2014-24) -6%* (tax examiners & collectors, & revenue agents)
Median Salary (2015) $51,430* (tax examiners & collectors, & revenue agents)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an IRS Auditor Do?

The different types of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents who conduct tax audits include tax examiners, internal revenue agents and tax compliance officers. As a tax examiner, you'll review simple tax filings from individuals and some small businesses. Your responsibilities will mostly include inputting tax returns and confirming the accuracy of the information they hold.

Internal revenue agents work with much more complicated tax filings. As an entry-level internal revenue agent, you'll audit small businesses, educate taxpayers about the tax code and assist businesses and organizations in ensuring tax compliance.

If you're an experienced accounting professional, you could work as a senior-level internal revenue agent. In that case, you'll audit the tax returns of large corporations, businesses and other complex entities. You'll determine if these entities' tax returns comply with the Internal Revenue Code, and you'll deal with complicated tax issues, including tax shelters and corporate reorganization. You could also specialize in examining specific tax issues, such as employment tax, financial products and international transactions.

If you choose to apply for a position as a tax compliance officer at the IRS, you'll be responsible for auditing individuals and businesses. You'll analyze a taxpayer's finances and advise them on issues of tax law and accounting.

What Qualifications Must I Have?

If you'd like to work as an IRS tax examiner, you must hold a bachelor's degree or have at least one year's experience as an accountant, tax analyst or bookkeeper. According to the IRS, to be eligible to apply for an entry-level internal revenue agent position, you must be a U.S. citizen who holds a bachelor's degree or has an equivalent amount of work experience along with 30 semester hours of coursework in accounting (http://jobs.irs.gov). To qualify as a tax compliance officer, you should have a bachelor's degree in business or a related field with six semester hours of coursework in accounting or be able to pass a test that measures your proficiency in accounting.

According to the IRS, there are several ways to qualify as a senior-level internal revenue agent. You could have a bachelor's degree or higher in accounting with at least 30 semester hours of coursework in accounting, be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or have educational and work experiences that are equivalent to a bachelor's degree in accounting. Additionally, you must possess a minimum of one year's experience in auditing or accounting.

What Benefits Will I Have?

As an IRS auditor, you'll enjoy a 40-hour work week that allows you to have a good work-life balance. All entry-level positions will afford you great advancement opportunities. Additionally, as a federal government employee, you'll receive great health insurance benefits, a retirement fund and tuition assistance.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several similar career options including financial analysts, cost estimators and personal financial advisors. Financial analysts help businesses and individuals with financial investments including stocks and bonds. Cost estimators calculate time, costs, materials and labor it takes to create a product. Personal financial advisors give individual advice on mortgages, investments, insurance, taxes and other financial situations. These career options all require a bachelor's degree.

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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