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Tax Attorney: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Becoming a tax attorney requires significant formal education. Read more about education opportunities, job duties, and other requirements to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Tax attorneys resolve financial or tax law issues for their clients. After earning a bachelor's degree, aspiring tax attorneys must attend law school. This profession is considered lucrative, and job growth should be as fast as average over the next decade.

Tax Attorney Job Description

When tax issues arise, the public generally turns to tax attorneys to help resolve the problems. Tax attorneys possess strong knowledge of tax laws and issues including income, property, gift and federal tax. Tax attorneys stay up-to-date with IRS regulations and tax laws in order to counsel clients on changes that affect their accounts. Tax attorneys also keep accurate records and develop plans to solve financial issues that affect his or her clients.

Required Education J.D. (Juris Doctor) Degree
Other Requirements Bar exam
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all lawyers)*
Median Salary (2016) $98,557**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Duties of a Tax Attorney

Tax attorneys are responsible for a number of different tasks including:

  • Keeping confidential records and tax information for clients
  • Understanding finance and accounting principles
  • Communicating and negotiating with federal, state and local government
  • Evaluating and assessing complicated tax issues
  • Researching and analyzing federal and state laws

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Requirements

It generally takes a student seven years of college education to become a tax attorney, with the first four years of schooling spent completing a bachelor's degree.

Undergraduate Pre-Law Degree

There is not a required bachelor's degree program to become a tax attorney, but earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in Accounting will give students extensive knowledge on how to communicate and analyze financial data and keep accounting records.

After completing general education requirements, students will begin taking core accounting courses; some programs may require undergraduates to complete an approved accounting or finance internship. Core accounting courses in a BSBA in Accounting program might include:

  • Financial, managerial and cost accounting
  • Income tax I and II
  • Fundamentals of auditing
  • Business law I and II

Juris Doctor (J.D.)

Upon completion of a bachelor's degree, aspiring tax attorneys attend law school, which takes a minimum of three years to complete. Many J.D. programs allow students to take a variety of electives in order to specialize in tax law. Some of these electives cover topics like:

  • General business taxation
  • Estate planning
  • International taxation
  • Financial services

Required Graduate Courses

Although some programs allow students to choose electives that will provide in-depth understanding of specific areas of taxation, there are standard tax-related courses that all law students will take no matter which specialization is chosen. These graduate courses include:

  • Federal income taxation I and II
  • Tax practice and procedures
  • Corporate tax
  • Partnership tax

Licensing Requirements

After completing law school, all 50 states require lawyers to pass a bar exam, giving the lawyer a license to practice within the state. Administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, this extensive 6-hour test covers a variety of law topics and is administered to ensure that attorneys have the skills that are needed to fairly and properly represent clients in the court of law. The American Board of Certification (ABC) states that a passing score on the bar exam is generally between 75 and 80 percent.

In summary, the educational requirements to become a tax lawyer are extensive. They include earning a Juris Doctor degree and passing the state bar exam to become licensed. Tax lawyers have extensive knowledge of the tax code and are up to date on finance principles.

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