Tax Auditor: Job Description and Education Requirements

Sep 15, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a tax auditor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Tax auditors evaluate financial records to ensure compliance with applicable laws. A bachelor's degree is typically required, but some professionals are able to obtain entry-level positions with an associate's degree and prior related experience. Some employers may require the CPA credential.

Essential Information

Tax auditors use principles of accounting to evaluate financial records of individuals, companies, organizations or agencies and ensure they comply with federal, state and local tax laws. They may also advise on tax issues and assist in filing tax returns. A bachelor's degree in accounting is required at a minimum, although many auditors have master's degrees in business or accounting. Some positions may require CPA certification.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements CPA certification sometimes required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% for all accountants and auditors*
Median Salary (2018) $70,500 annually for all accountants and auditors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Internal Auditors

Internal audits are performed by an employee within an organization. These audits can serve multiple purposes, including the identification of fraud, wasteful spending and mismanagement of funds. Internal auditors could be responsible for assessing records and recommending improvement for efficiency, compliance and data security.

External Auditors

External audits are performed by an impartial third party, often a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) from an accounting firm. For the purpose of tax audits, the auditor might advise the client on tax advantages and file tax forms for the company.

Government Auditors

Government employees, such as those that work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), ensure the accuracy of governmental records and provide random tax audit services for companies, nonprofit organizations and individuals. They evaluate corporate and individual tax returns, expenditures, receipts and bookkeeping practices to ensure compliance with tax codes and regulations.

Education Requirements for Tax Auditors

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most auditor positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting, though some employers might favor those with master's degrees in business or accounting ( Graduates of associate degree programs and those with related experience as accounting clerks or bookkeepers might qualify for some entry-level positions under the supervision of a licensed or experienced auditor.

Certification and Continuing Education

Federal law requires those who submit reports to securities exchanges must earn CPA certification. The licensure exam is administered by a State Board of Accountancy. Usually, applicants need a degree to qualify for testing, though some states allow experience in the field to substitute for educational requirements. Those with CPA certification often must complete a determined number of continuing education courses or credits to maintain the designation.

A number of associations offer continuing education opportunities and additional certification options. Organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs, the Association for Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, offer conferences, seminars, self-study guides and online resources that can offer continuing education credit. Professionals can also choose to earn supplementary certifications, such as the Certified Management Accountant or Certified Financial Manager, to establish expertise in a variety of accounting practices and controls.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of tax examiners, tax collectors and revenue agents - all of whom work for government agencies - was expected to decrease 2% between 2018 and 2028. The number of jobs for accountants and auditors during the same time period were predicted to rise 11%.

As of May 2018, tax examiners, tax collectors, and revenue agents earned median salaries of $54,440. During that time, accountants and auditors made a median salary of $70,500 per year, according to the BLS.

Tax auditors can work as internal, external, or government auditors. A bachelor's degree is required, and they can usually advance their careers by becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which requires continuing education to maintain the credential. Salary and job outlook depends upon the employer, with prospects for government work less promising than in other fields.

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