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IRS Auditor: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) auditor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

IRS auditors review and examine tax documents that are submitted to the IRS, and a bachelor's degree is required for this job. Also required is an understanding of accounting and federal tax laws. Here are more details about the requirements of an IRS auditor, and information about the field's salary and job outlook.

Essential Information

IRS auditors verify the accuracy of federal tax records by analyzing the tax form submitted to the IRS by individuals and businesses. Entry-level positions usually require a bachelor's degree related to accounting or certification as a certified public accountant (CPA).

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -6% (tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents)*
Median Salary (2015) $51,430 annually (tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

IRS Auditor Job Description

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that federal government auditors, who are also known as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, monitor the income and spending habits of individuals, businesses and government agencies (www.bls.gov). IRS auditors possess a thorough understanding of federal tax laws. Instead of working on all tax forms at once, auditors often work in various departments or divisions, such as the large business division.

Auditors routinely review financial documents, including budget planning, spending records, receipts, investment records and revenue projections. They also follow financial paper trails and document the amount of money individuals or businesses received to calculate the amount of taxes owed. When examining government agencies, auditors may also verify if money was spent accordingly and reported to the proper authorities. If auditors find unexplainable discrepancies concerning the amount of revenue received and the amount of taxes paid, they may then conduct a thorough inquiry known as an audit.

As of May 2015, the BLS reports that tax examiners and collectors and revenue agents earn a median annual income of $51,430, with the top ten percent earning more than $90,000 and the bottom ten percent earning less than $31,000 per year. Employment is expected to decrease six percent for all positions in these fields between 2014 and 2024.

IRS Auditor Job Requirements

Education

Information on IRS.gov states that there were several ways for applicants to meet educational requirements for entry-level positions (jobs.irs.gov). Although most positions require the minimum of a bachelor's degree, individuals without a degree but who are certified public accountants (CPAs) are eligible for entry-level positions. Depending on an applicant's experience and educational background, some workers may need to complete an additional 30 classroom hours of approved coursework related to accounting.

In accounting degree programs, undergraduate coursework covers federal taxes, non-profit accounting, fraud examination, corporation taxation and auditing. Some schools offer a 5-year combined degree program, resulting in a bachelor's and a master's degree in accounting. Individuals who want to work in advanced positions for the IRS often require experience and a graduate degree. Graduate coursework includes accounting information technology, financial reporting, financial consulting, risk assessment and business statistics.

Certification Program

Although having a CPA certificate is not necessarily required for entry-level positions with the IRS, working as a CPA can provide useful accounting experience. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) administers the CPA certification exam, which the BLS notes is used by all states (www.aicpa.org). The exam is split into four separate parts, covering topics such as auditing, tax regulations and financial accounting. Applicants can take each part of the exam separately, but all four parts must be completed within an 18 month period.

IRS auditors conduct inquiries to determine if an individual or business is paying the appropriate amount of taxes according to their revenue. They must possess a bachelor's degree, usually in accounting. Job opportunities for tax examiners, collectors and revenue agents are declining, and are expected to decrease by 6% in the years 2014 through 2024.


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