What Does it Mean to Study Taxation?
All working adults have to file taxes, and we all hate doing it. Having reliable, expert advice can be invaluable, especially when it means saving money on taxes. If you have an accounting background, strong computer literacy skills (particularly in spreadsheet preparation software), and good communication and time management skills, you could enjoy a lucrative career as a taxation specialist.
As with other specializations in accounting, the taxation major allows professionals to gain expertise and official recognition in this field. Tax accountants prepare federal, state, or local tax returns for individuals or organizations. They use their expertise to recommend changes to reduce their clients' tax burdens. They're responsible for staying up-to-date on all pertinent aspects of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and annual changes.
It's one of the most intricate fields of accounting, so practitioners will generally focus on one branch such as corporate, property, sales and use, or individual taxes. A business degree in taxation can also lead to a career on the collections side of taxes, working for governmental agencies like the IRS.
Career Education in Taxation
The minimum educational requirement for a tax accountant is a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. As competition for the best jobs gets more intense, a master's degree and CPA certification is more commonly preferred. An associate degree in accounting may be accepted for clerical and junior tax examiner positions in state and local governments in smaller markets. Online degrees in accounting and taxation have become increasingly popular as working professionals seek to boost their resumes without putting their careers on hold.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Taxation?
A college degree in taxation allows you to work on the payer or payee side of the field, for individuals or groups, and for any level of government and internationally.
Tax accountants and tax advisors work on behalf of an individual or group to fulfill tax obligations and minimize the amount of income remitted. Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents work for the government to obtain revenues by reviewing tax returns, conducting audits, and facilitating the collection of tax dollars. The level of education an individual obtains will determine their career and advancement options.
As the tax code continues to change, continuing education and on-the-job training are expected within the taxation field. You can move into management or in the case of revenue agents, you can specialize into areas such as criminal activity audits and international tax assessments. This branch of tax accounting is expected to have a slower than average growth in the next 10 years due to technological improvements, so the best way to advance is to ensure you're at the top of your game, academically and professionally.
Taxation Certification, Licensure, and Associations
Professional certification is recommended for a taxation degree graduate as a way to demonstrate your proficiency and status in the field. It is often done in conjunction with graduate studies.
Many employers prefer that you have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. To become a CPA, you must complete 150 credit hours of college-level education (which translates to about 5 years of undergraduate and graduate work), pass all four parts of the Uniform Certified Public Accountants Exam, and have about two years of accounting experience.
Other designations include the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation's Accredited Tax Advisor, Accredited Tax Preparer, Accredited Tax Advisor, and International Accredited Business Accountant designations (with the successful completion of the ACAT exam), and the Certified Member of the Institute (CMI) from the Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT).