Tax Accountant: Job Description & Requirements

Tax accountants require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Becoming a tax accountant requires a bachelor's degree, and additional education is typically necessary in order to qualify for the CPA designation. Accountants can find work within various levels of government, the financial industry and company payroll departments.

Essential Information

Tax accountants assist clients with their financial and income tax statements. These professionals may have typical work weeks, except around tax season when their hours can increase significantly. Tax accountants must keep up to date on changes in the tax laws that could affect their clients, and they need a bachelor's degree in accounting or a relevant field. Accountants seeking Certified Public Accountant (CPA) status need 30 hours of education beyond the bachelor's degree as well as accounting experience. They also must pass an examination.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in accounting or relevant subject; additional 30 hours required to seek CPA credentials
Other Requirements CPA designation required for those who file reports with the SEC
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 11% for all accountants and auditors
Median Salary (2015)* $67,190 for all accountants and auditors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Tax Accountant

Tax accountants prepare federal, state and local tax returns for businesses, organizations and individuals. As such, these professionals are knowledgeable on business concepts and government regulations. Tax accountants may advise clients on how to minimize tax liability, inform them of any tax changes that affect their business and ensure compliance with taxing agency requirements. Tax accountants are involved in any disputes or audits that affect their clients.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for accountants and auditors was expected to increase by 11% from 2014-2024. The increase is due to stricter regulations and a need for accountants to handle compliance matters.

Salary Information

The BLS reported a median annual salary of $67,190 for accountants and auditors in 2015. The top paying industries at that time were securities and commodity brokerages and the federal government.

Requirements for Becoming a Tax Accountant

Educational Requirements

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, in addition to courses in business calculus and statistics.

Certification and Licensing Requirements

In order 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, but most mandate applicants to complete 150 semester hours, 30 hours more than what is required for a 4-year degree. Additionally, states typically mandate 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 (www.aicpa.org). After earning their certification, most CPAs must complete continuing education to maintain their credentials.

Tax accountants hold at least a bachelor's degree, but because additional credits are usually required in order to become a CPA, many professionals go on to earn graduate certificates or master's degrees. While tax accountants generally work regular business hours, it's important to note that during tax season their hours and workload can increase significantly.

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