What Does it Mean to Study Taxation?
Not for nothing are taxes the subject of so many sayings, jokes and catchphrases. As a near-constant of a working adult life, and as a very complex procedure with quite a lot of money at stake, taxes are something that need to be done correctly. If you have an accounting background, strong computer literacy skills (particularly in spreadsheet-generating software), and good communication and time management skills, you might be able to help dozens, if not hundreds, of other people as a taxation specialist.
Tax accountants prepare federal, state or local tax returns for individuals or organizations. Along the way, they use their understanding of tax law to catch errors in their clients' filing, such as an overlooked deductible that could save hundreds of dollars. Since taxation is one of the most intricate fields of accounting, practitioners generally focus on one branch of the field, such as corporate, property, sales and use, or individual taxes.
Career Education in Taxation
The minimum educational requirement for a tax accountant is a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or a related field. CPA certification is not required, but opens up many opportunities that would likely be closed to a tax professional who has not earned CPA certification. An associate degree in accounting may be acceptable for clerical and junior tax examiner positions in state and local governments in smaller markets, but is unlikely to be sufficient for all positions.
Online degree programs in accounting and taxation are widely available and can help working professionals to boost their resumes without putting their careers on hold.
Because the tax code continues to change, continuing education is expected within the taxation field.
What Can You Do With a College Degree in Taxation?
Earning 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.
Taxation Certification, Licensure, and Associations
Many employers prefer candidates who have earned 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 earn 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).