Career Definition of a Tax Associate
A tax associate specializes in providing clients with tax preparation services. Tax associates may work full-time or part-time schedules at accounting firms or tax preparation businessess. Some firms hire contract tax associates for a few months of the year during tax season. Tax associates typically spend their time in an office environment.
A tax associate's primary function is to help individuals or organizations meet their state and federal tax obligations. Job responsibilities can include examining financial records - such as income statements and expenditure documentation - to determine clients' refunds or the amount of taxes owed, collaborating with colleagues to review tax returns, preparing taxes, and filing appropriate paperwork, all while providing excellent customer service. They might also make recommendations to management on ways to streamline operations and increase client satisfaction. Tax associates can participate in continuing education classes to ensure they are informed on current practices and mandates.
|Educational Requirements||Ranges from high school diploma to bachelor's degree|
|Job Skills||Excellent accounting skills, strong technical skills, strong customer service abilities, ability to prioritize|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$36,550 (for all tax preparers)|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||2% (for all tax preparers)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Individuals interested in working as a tax associate might be able to find employment with a high school diploma or associate degree, though some employers require a bachelor's degree in accounting or another related financial field.
It may be beneficial for individuals to earn a master's degree or become a Certified Public Accountant, as some employers prefer applicants with advanced training. Certification requires successfully completing a national exam and meeting state-specific requirements. Interested individuals can also pursue membership in the National Association of Tax Professionals, which provides members with education and relevant news.
Excellent accounting skills are essential for tax associates, as they are responsible for calculating and preparing clients' tax returns. Tax associates should have strong technical skills, including experience with tax preparation programs, such as Intuit QuickBooks, ATX Total Accounting Office, or M8 Client Billing. They should also have experience with financial analysis programs like Sungard Relius. Tax associates need strong customer service skills, as much of their time is spent interacting with clients. They must be able to communicate effectively to obtain information and provide guidance. The ability to prioritize will ensure tax associates can successfully manage multiple clients and responsibilities.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not collect information specifically on tax associates; however, it reported a 2% job growth for the category of tax preparers for the 2014-2024 decade, which is slower than average for all occupations. They also reported that the median salary for this group was $36,550 in May 2016.
Individuals considering a career as a tax associate might also be interested in one of the related careers profiled below. These options offer candidates the opportunity to utilize their skills in other tax-related or financial positions.