Tax professionals with a degree in accounting or taxation can work in a variety of areas. For example, professionals with a background in taxes and taxation may work as tax examiners and collectors, which are revenue agents to ensure that state, local and federal governments get the tax dollars they are entitled to receive from citizens and businesses. Tax examiners and collectors typically review tax returns, perform audits, identify the amount of taxes that are owed, and collect tax payments that are overdue.
Other types of professionals with a taxation background are accountants and auditors. These professionals prepare and examine tax documents for individuals and businesses. They are responsible for ensuring that all tax records are accurate, and that all taxes have been paid on time and properly. Accountants and auditors also must ensure that financial operations are run properly and they also ensure that businesses are run in an efficient financial manner.
To work effectively in the taxation and accounting field, it is very important to have the following skills:
- Analytical skills: You must be able to identify issues in financial documents and recommend solutions. For example, accountants use their analytical skills to minimize tax liability.
- Communication skills: You need to be able to listen to concerns and factual financial information from clients, managers and other stakeholders.
- Detail oriented: You need to be able to pay close attention when compiling tax and financial information.
- Math skills: You must be able to compare, analyze and interpret facts and figures
What Is the Field of Taxation?
The field of taxes and taxation may be more often called tax accounting. Tax accounting consists of many advanced accounting methods that focus on taxes instead of on public financial statements. Tax accounting is controlled by the IRS code that dictates the rules that individuals and companies must follow when doing tax returns.
For the individual taxpayer, tax accounting involves tracking all of the funds that come in and out of the possession of the person regardless of purpose. This includes personal expenses that do not have tax implications. Tax accounting is focused on things such as gross and net income, qualifying tax deductions, investment losses and gains, and other types of transactions that affect the tax burden of the person.
For a business, much more information has to be analyzed in the tax accounting process. The company’s earnings and incoming funds have to be tracked the same as an individual, but there is more complexity involved regarding outgoing funds that are directed to certain obligations of the business. This may include funds that are directed towards certain business expenses, and also funds that are directed towards company shareholders.
For a non profit organization, even though the organization is tax exempt, tax accounting is needed. This is because all non profit organizations still must file annual tax returns. They are required to give information about incoming funds, such as donations or grants, and also how funds are used during the operation of the organization. This is important to ensure that the non profit organization is adhering to all regulations and laws.
As the US economy continues to grow and gather strength after the last financial downturn, organizations are growing and new ones are being created. This is leading to a stronger demand for a variety of tax accounting professionals, including accountants and auditors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that job growth for this field will increase by 11% from 2014-24. This is faster than average when compared to all occupations. BLS reports that globalization, a growing economy and a more complex regulatory and tax structure is going to lead to more demand for accountants and auditors.
Stricter laws and regulations in the tax and financial sectors will increase the need for accounting services as companies must do more to comply with tougher standards. Also, tighter standards for lending money may increase the importance of auditing, which is a critical way that companies can demonstrate that they are credit worthy.
Having strong skills in taxation and tax accounting are essential and of growing importance to have a good career as an accountant or tax professional. Tax and accounting professionals currently hold more than 1.3 million jobs in the US, with the largest employers in these areas, according to BLS:
- Accounting and tax preparation: 26%
- Government: 8%
- Finance and insurance: 8%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 7%
- Manufacturing: 6%
A related career for professionals with a taxation and accounting background is bookkeeper, accounting and auditing clerks. There are 1.7 million such jobs in the US as of 2016, with the largest employers in these fields:
- Professional, scientific and technical services: 12%
- Retail trade: 10%
- Wholesale trade: 7%
- Healthcare and social assistance: 7%
- Finance and insurance: 7%
BLS reports that the median wage for accountants and auditors in 2016 was $68,150, with the top 10% earning above $120,900 per year. The median annual wage will vary somewhat depending upon the specific field in which you work:
- Insurance and finance: $72,900
- Management of enterprises and companies: $70,700
- Accounting, tax preparation, payroll and bookkeeping: $68,100
- Government: $65,800
For bookkeepers and accounting and auditing clerks, the median salary is $38,300, with the top 10% earning $59,600.
For taxation professionals who go on to earn their Certified Public Accountant credential (CPA), these are the best cities to work in for top salaries:
- San Francisco: $96,000
- New York: $94,000
- Houston: $85,800
- Atlanta: $82,000
- Dallas: $82,000
- Seattle: $80,275
If you earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in taxation or accounting, you will have the skills to enjoy a productive career in the taxation field in most industries. Some of the top employers in the taxation and accounting field today are:
- Deloitte LLP
- Ernst and Young LLP
- KPMG LLP
- Grant Thornton LLP
- BDA USA LLP
- Plante Moran
To obtain a basic understanding of the principles of taxation and accounting, you may earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Some of the most common bachelor’s degrees in this field are:
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting: Courses in this degree program are more focused on the technical aspects of accounting and taxation, as well as advanced mathematics.
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accounting: This degree is centered upon business management practices and a concentration on taxation and accounting.
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting: The core curriculum is centered upon business courses with a concentration in accounting.
In all of these bachelor’s programs, the curriculum will including managerial accounting, cost accounting, auditing, financial accounting and accounting information systems.
Earning a master’s degree in this field will provide you with the skills and experience for the highest paying taxation and accounting positions. You can earn a master’s degree in taxation, which will introduce you to the more advanced concepts, rules and practices that govern income taxation for individuals and organizations.
Another option is to earn a master’s degree in accounting. Earning this master’s degree will allow you to eventually sit for your CPA examination. There are a variety of master’s degrees that you can choose, such as master of accountancy, master of science in accounting, and even a master of business administration with a concentration in accounting.
If you are a working professional who wants to earn an advanced degree while working full or part time, an online master’s degree in this field may be for you. St. John’s University offers a high quality, online Master of Science in Accounting and Taxation that will give you the advanced accounting and taxation skills to become a highly paid tax professional.
Required courses in this two year, online program are:
- Business Tax Planning
- Information Technology Auditing
- Global Managerial Accounting
- Accounting Ethics and Professionalism
- Financial Reporting
- Business Entities and Combinations
- Government and Non Profits
- Auditing Concepts and Applications
- Individual Tax Planning
- Financial Statement Analysis
All universities have their own admission requirements, and they will vary also by whether you are getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Typical master’s degree requirements include:
- Professional resume
- Two letters of recommendation
- Unofficial transcripts from undergraduate program
- GMAT or GRE scores may be required
- Background courses in taxation, accounting, statistics and finance
Earning a degree in taxation and/or accounting can be a costly decision. Even though the salary that you can earn after getting your degree will likely be quite high, you still need to get through school for two or four years and pay for it. But there is strong demand for accountants and tax professionals today. Thus there are many grants and scholarships available that can be used at most US universities. Here are some good options:
- Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance Scholarship: $2000 scholarship for women; through the American Society of Women’s Accountants.
- AICPA Student Scholarship: $10,000 scholarship for students who want to become CPAs.
- Catching the Dream Program: Scholarship for Native Americans for bachelor’s or master’s degrees in business, taxation, accounting, and computers.
- Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship: Available to full time graduate students in the amount of $13,000 who are studying to earn a master’s degree in finance or accounting.
- Laurels Fund: $5000 scholarship for female students who are earning a master’s or doctoral degree in taxation or accounting.
- Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarships: This foundation provides a variety of scholarships for women in accounting, with amounts ranging from $2000 to $16,000.
Earning the highest salary and respect in the field of taxation and accounting will be easier if you earn one or more of these credentials:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Certified Bank Auditor (CBA)
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
You will be able to grow faster in your taxation and accounting career if you belong to some of these related associations and groups:
- National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP)
- National Society of Accountants (NSACCT)
- The American Institute of CPAs
- The American Accounting Association
The taxation and accounting fields are growing rapidly and offer plenty of exciting work opportunities for professionals who earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in taxation or accounting.
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- Accountants and Auditors. (2015, Dec. 18). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-3
- Highest Paying Cities for CPAs. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rogercpareview.com/blog/highest-paying-cities-cpas
- St. John’s University. Master of Science in Taxation and Accounting. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://online.stjohns.edu/online-programs/msa/curriculum