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How to Become a Tax Analyst: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a tax analyst. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in tax analysis. View article »

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Tax Analyst

Tax analysts help companies and high-wealth individuals file tax returns, ensuring that they are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws. This includes collecting and preparing tax data, reviewing returns, performing tax research, and maintaining records. Tax analysts work full-time during regular business hours, although during tax season, longer hours may be required. Such analysts work in an office setting, whether in their own buildings or at a client's location.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required; master's degree often preferred
Degree Field Accounting
Certification Complete CPA exam
Key Skills Excellent reconciliation, communication, organization, analytical, and problem solving skills; experience with tax preparation software, CCH or RIA tax research databases, and Microsoft Excel; technical knowledge of ASC 740 requirements
Median Salary (2016) $55,678*

Source: *Payscale.com

Career Steps

Now let's check out the career steps for tax analysts.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree program in accounting can help prepare students for a career in tax analysis. Some schools offer a concentration in taxation, which can be useful for a prospective tax analyst. Most accounting degree programs include courses in accounting, tax, financial management, business law, and financial statement analysis. Some of these programs also offer students a chance to take part in an accounting internship and/or conduct their own independent studies of a particular topic in accounting.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Most employers require tax analysts to have a bachelor's degree and up to five years of experience. New graduates can seek employment in an entry-level position to hone their skills and gain this experience. Some entry-level positions require employees to prepare federal and state tax returns, maintain tax records, and assist with research and issue resolution. Higher level positions require more advanced tax research, planning, and preparation.

Step 3: Earn a Master's Degree

A master's degree in taxation isn't required, but some employers prefer it. Some schools offer specific professional degrees, like a Master of Accountancy in Taxation or a Master of Business in Taxation. Most taxation programs include a diverse range of taxation topics, including advanced taxation, corporate and partnership taxation, property tax, and tax research. Students also might learn about tax-exempt status, state and local tax policies, and pension and profit-sharing plans. Like some bachelor's degree programs, some of these programs offer elective internships that allow students to gain valuable work experience.

Step 4: Get Certified

Many jobs require an aspiring tax analyst to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) through his or her state. Requirements vary but often include a degree in accounting or taxation and some professional experience in the taxation field. Applicants must pass a written exam. CPAs must re-certify every three years.

Step 5: Join a Professional Organization

Tax analysts who become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) should consider joining a professional organization, such as the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), which offers training, resources, professional guidance, and program services that help members advance and invest in their CPA careers.

To recap, with a postsecondary degree and experience as well as CPA certification, tax analysts can make about $56,000 a year to help companies and high-wealth individuals file tax returns, ensuring that they are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws.

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