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How to Become a Tax Examiner

Career News September 1, 2013

Although a job working for the IRS can be an intimidating thought, the average workload of a tax examiner is in simple tax returns, filed by individuals with a few simple tax deductions, and for small businesses. The tax examiner reviews tax returns, conducts audits, identifies the taxes payable and collects overdue taxes. The tax examiner makes sure all returns are filed correctly and completed according to state and federal regulations. Tax examiners determine the legality of tax deductions and credits. In cases where the taxpayer is in error and owes more tax, the examiner assesses the fees, penalties and interest due, notifying the tax payer of the change in the amount.

Minimum Education Requirements

The minimum requirement for a federal level tax examiner’s job is a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in accounting or a related subject. Accounting courses should include multiple levels of accounting, tax analysis, auditing, finance and bookkeeping. Along with the completion of the accredited courses, applicants also need one year of experience working in the field. Work experience can be acquired by working for an accounting firm. Federal tax examiners will report any discrepancies within a tax return to the state in which it had been filed. The examiner working for the state will then use the information to determine if federal changes had affected the taxpayer’s state tax liability.

The state requirements for tax examiners vary with the state you live in. For local and state government jobs, many states will hire examiners with an associate degree, some business courses and specialized experience. Some will hire students with a high school diploma and specialized experience. Formal training is provided after they are hired.

Duties and Prospects for Tax Examiners

An entry level tax examiner will have additional obligations besides covering tax returns. They may be required to enter information and changes to a computer program, or whether social security numbers match with the names on the tax returns. Their responsibilities may include communicating with tax payers by telephone regarding issues with their returns. Their job will require good personal and communication skills.

The prospects for growth in the field of tax examiners are expected to stay high. While a number of jobs will open up as long-term tax examiners go into retirement, the job demand is expected to be offset by the use of computers. Faster computer programs and tax software have created more efficient tax services, as well as being an asset to businesses offering tax services.

Tax examiners must continue their education even after earning their degree in order to remain current with tax laws. They must exhibit character traits of dependability and the ability to cultivate trust, as they will be working with confidential financial and personal information. Stress levels can be high, especially during tax season when deadlines must be met for examining tax payer returns and evaluating their claims.

Although the work load is heaviest during tax season, even adding over-time, local and state tax examiners often have steady, year round work as they process specialties such as gasoline, sales and cigarette taxes instead of annual tax returns.

The median range for a tax examiner is $42,000 a year. Depending on the sector, the specialty and years of experience, salary ranges begin at $28,390 – $89,630 annually. Only two percent on all tax examiners are self-employed.

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