Most of us not only dislike paying taxes, we detest preparing the necessary paperwork and filling taxes. Tax preparation is time consuming, complex, and most of use don’t understand how and when we must file the require tax forms. Even worse, just when we finally think we have a handle on our tax situation the federal government changes the tax code, yet again, and we find ourselves back at the drawing board. Individual taxpayers and businesses alike, turn to taxation and tax preparation professionals to help them through the annual grind of preparing and paying their taxes. In addition to saving their clients time and headache, savvy tax professionals can also save their clients money and develop tax strategies that will reduce their tax liability in the future.
Most tax professionals, especially tax consultants and auditors, must have a strong knowledge of tax code and an indepth understanding of accounting and law. While it’s possible for tax preparers working on behalf of individual clients to process IRS forms without formal training, a degree in accounting, or the equivalent, is becoming more and more important and is required by most employers. For tax professionals working as auditors or consultants for corporations, formal training in tax accounting is essential. Tax experts who assist corporations in tax planning, formulation of sophisticated tax strategies, tax deferrment or mergers and acquistions typically have at minimum a master’s degree in accounting and often possess the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation and/or a Juris Docorate degree in tax law.
Job Outlook for Taxation Professionals
It’s been said there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. As funny as that may or may not be, it’s certainly true. Everyone that makes money is required to pay taxes until the day they die–if not longer! Consequently, the demand for individuals to assist in tax preparation is never ending. Job prospects for experienced tax preparers are good. Job prospects for tax professionals with advanced skills sets (e.g. tax strategists, auditors, M&A experts, etc.) are even better. The median salary for taxation professionals who assist individual clients prepare annual tax returns is roughly $50,000 a year. For tax professionals with advanced degrees in accounting, finance and law, compensation can be over $200,000 a year, or more. While job prospects are strong, the need for continual education and training are high. Competition for top positions is intense and an advanced degree in a relevant discipline is becoming a standard requirement for many positions.
Education and Training Requirements
In the past, tax preparation professionals often learned the trade of tax preparation via on the job training–and a few still do. However, given the ever growing complexity of tax code and tax law, a degree in tax accounting or a related discipline is becoming an industry standard for employment in entry-level career positions. At the undergraduate level, a typical taxation program might include coursework in accounting, budgeting, managerial finance, regulations, investing, and a few other fundamental areas. At the graduate level tax programs may include advanced corporate finance, financial statement analysis, tax law, mergers and acquistions, and various other advanced tax and accounting courses.
Another credential that is becoming common place among tax professionals is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. A CPA is preferred by most employers and corporate tax clients as its demonstrates and validates both current knowledge and expertice in taxes and accounting. A CPA credential can be obtained by earning an accounting degree, completing relevant work experience and passing an extensive exam.
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