Tax Professional Career Options

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a tax professional. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Accounting - Taxation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Tax Professional?

There are several career options in the tax preparation industry requiring varying educational levels. You may work as a tax preparer, which involves helping businesses and individuals prepare their tax returns and seeing if they qualify for any deductions. You could also work as an accountant, which entails keeping track of all the financial records for a company, organization, or individual. This also involves making sure the client files their taxes correctly, according to legal regulations. Another option is a career as a tax examiner. These professionals work on behalf of the federal or state government and make sure that individuals and companies have filed their taxes correctly and seek payment if they owe money. See the table below for some job facts on a few career options available to tax professionals.

Tax Preparers Accountants Tax Examiners
Degree Required High school diploma Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study N/A Accounting Accounting
LicensureObtain a federal preparer tax identification number (PTIN); licensure may be required by state Obtain PTIN; state CPA licensure required N/A
Key Responsibilities Organize tax documents, fill out tax paperwork and submit tax returns for a businesses or individuals Manage financial documents and meet all required filing deadlines Verify information provided in tax returns is accurate
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% 11% for all accountants and auditors -6% for all tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents
Median Salary (2015)* $36,450 $67,190 for all accountants and auditors $51,430 for all tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Tax Professional?

You could work at many levels of tax preparation, from a single person who has very simple tax deductions to large corporations with complex concerns. By arranging the tax return for someone, you take responsibility for completing the documentation submitted to the government.

A common career is working as a tax preparer. In this role, you organize documentation, fill out the paperwork and submit the tax return for a business or person. As an accountant, you may be responsible for the complete management of your clients' financial documents and ensure that they meet all required filing deadlines. You could also work on the other end of the taxation process as a tax examiner or review agent to verify that the information provided in tax returns is true.

What Level of Education Do I Need?

You can begin working as an entry-level tax professional with a high school diploma or GED and job-specific training. Some large tax preparation companies provide basic training programs. If you want to move to higher positions in the field, you might need to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. In many jobs, you will receive training to learn how to navigate job-related computer software.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that every person who is paid for preparing tax returns meets certain requirements. To prepare federal tax returns, you must register with the IRS and obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). This ID must be renewed every 1-3 years, depending on the type of tax preparation you do. For some categories of tax professionals, the IRS also mandates that you pass an exam to demonstrate your proficiency and fulfill continuing education requirements. Some states may require you to earn a license to prepare tax returns as a career. Background checks are common, and you may need to adhere to a code of ethics.

Where Can I Work?

Tax professionals often have flexibility, and you can often choose to work as a consultant or with a firm whose business is to prepare taxes for clients. In these environments, you are usually busiest during the time leading up to tax season. Tax experts are needed in all types of business, so you might find opportunities in bookkeeping departments, as a firm's accountant or in the government.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree, you may want to work as a budget analyst for a company or an individual. This job also involves keeping track of financial records as they relate to the budget. They help clients by analyzing their spending and preparing budget reports to show clients how they are spending money and may suggest ways in which they could cut back. Another option that requires a bachelor's degrees is a career as a financial analyst. The professionals work for organizations or individuals and help them make decisions regarding their investments. They may research various potential investments, like stocks and bonds, to try to assess how they would perform over time and whether they would be wise to invest in.

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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