General Introduction

Tax accountants help their clients with financial and income tax statements. That’s the simplistic description of the job. But these days, a tax accountant’s work is more complex and ever changing. Given the changing tax codes, year to year, and particularly with all the talk in Washington by Congress and the Trump administration about potential changes (simplification?) in the tax laws, tax accountants need to understand the nuances of the tax codes so as to best serve their clients, whether corporate or personal.  

The future is bright for anyone aspiring to be a tax accountant. Washington will attempt to simplify the code but when that will take effect is anyone’s guess. So tax accountants will still be needed. In droves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to analyze job prospects of accountants and auditors on the same page. Right now, their 10-year projection from 2014 through 2024, shows an 11 percent increase in employment for accountants.

Salary information surveyed more than 9,000 tax accountants in May 2017, and they computed an average salary of $64,797 a year. On the low end, they had reports of a $19,000 annual salary; on the high end, $138,000. says a median salary for tax accountants is $55,000 annually.

Meanwhile, The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups auditors and accountants together in their survey of salaries. Understanding that, the range of salary cited by the BLS is $42,140 (the lowest 10% in the profession) to $120, 910 (top salary). The median salary for auditors, according to the BLS, is $68,150. As always, earnings in this category are affected by career experience, followed by the specific employer and geography.



Let’s dispense with the obvious: As a certified accountant specializing in tax analysis, you’ll need skills in planning and organizing the material you have to work with. Are you strong at multi-tasking, attention to detail, analytical, and problem solving? Can you communicate well with clients and other senior staff? And, most importantly, can you work under time pressure? Those are the basics. Of course, by now in your career you should be comfortable with the latest technologies, such as Great Plains, QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, SAP, CaseWare, tax preparation software and Audit Command Language.

Other skill sets are not so obvious: you’ll have to develop a sense of discretion and confidentiality. And finally, you’ll need the ability to constantly learn, and be tested for certification. Even senior staff will be under constant pressure to learn new programs, laws. has one more suggestion that makes a lot of sense and is worth quoting verbatim: “Given the intense scrutiny that finance and accounting staff are under these days, it’s no surprise that some employers require applicants to be bondable and able to pass a criminal background check. Keep your nose squeaky-clean!”


Job description

Whether you work for a large accounting firm or operate as an individual, your job is to prepare federal, state, and local tax returns, extensions, and quarterly payments for businesses and individuals.

Breaking down your job description, you’ll need to review tax information supplied by a client. That may entail meeting with the client and asking relevant questions. You need to recognize, anticipate and resolve tax issues. Then, make recommendations. Often, you’ll advise clients on how to minimize tax liability. And should the situation arise, be involved in any disputes or audits that might affect your client.


Necessary education and experience

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum educational requirement for becoming a tax accountant. Prospective tax accountants may seek out accounting programs or related majors such as business administration. Individuals who are considering master’s programs in accountancy may look for programs that include a tax concentration. These programs include coursework in financial planning, auditing and taxation, besides courses in statistics.

To file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, accountants must be licensed as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) by their state boards. Specific requirements for licensure vary by state; most require applicants to complete 150 semester hours, 30 hours more than what is required for a 4-year degree. Additionally, states typically ask that applicants have two-years experience in accounting.

Once eligible, candidates may take the CPA exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. After earning their certification, most CPAs must complete continuing education to maintain their credentials. Additional educational credits are normally required to become a CPA, leading many to earn graduate certificates or master’s degrees.



Helpful resources

You can learn more about specializing in tax accounting through some excellent degree programs that offer tax accountancy as a concentration. Meanwhile, having documented college coursework in accounting on your resume can help you stand out among job applicants.

For an overall perspective of accounting, and your educational path to success in this specialized field, check out our Accounting FAQ Section.  At the site, you’ll also find features on fraud and tax scams, tax loopholes and many other relevant articles.

To become a tax accountant, you’ll need at least a <a href=”> bachelor’s degree</a>.

And it’s likely you’ll need or have to work towards a  master’s degree in accounting.

Here are some professional associations tax pros might want to join:

For some advice on uncovering fraud go to the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists here.