Inside Tax Accountant Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Different Areas Of Practice...
I was surprised at how many hours tax season requires. I was also surprised at how many different areas of work there are for accountants, like tax and audit." (Accountant; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Accounting at Ohio State University in Ohio; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"US Tax Code Not The Only Factor In Determining Tax Status...
I was surprised the depth of the US tax law. Other than the cut and dry IRC, there are treaties, social security issues, payrolls issues, etc. Most often, especially with higher income earners, a judgment call must be made within the guideline laid out by the treaties and other authorities." (Tax Associate; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Accounting at SUNY Geneseo in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Requires Continual Education...
What surprised me was how many laws relating to General Accounting Practices I have to constantly keep up with since they are changing all of the time. Keeping up with theses laws are going to be an ongoing thing in this industry, as is continual education." (Accountant; 2014)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Florida
School: Studied Public Accounting at University Of Central Florida in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2006

"I was surprised how much different accounting was applied in the real world compared to what I learned in the classroom. Each and every job and industry has its own unique accounting system. I didn't realize how deadline driven the accounting field was until I began working as an accountant. Lastly, I wasn't prepared to effectively manage multiple priorities that were time sensitive." (Accountant; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied Accounting at Robert Morris University in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2004

"Tax Accountants Help People...
I enjoy my line of work because it really helps people. Money is a huge part of daily life and law abiding citizens are required to do their taxes. So, I like knowing I can help people stay on the right track by answering questions and fulfilling taxes yearly." (Accountant; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Business at University Of Phoenix in Arizona; completed Master degree in 2010

"Mostly Just Routine Work...
I thought you would directly apply what you learn in school to the job. It's not so much the case. I thought there would be more extensive research - it's more just completing a number of returns." (Tax Accountant; 2012)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Wisconsin, male
School: Studied Accounting at San Jose State University in California; completed Master degree in 2002

I was surprised by how challenging it is and how laws are always changing, making my job extremely difficult and stressful. Others may be surprised by how low the pay is for some accounting positions." (Accountant; 2012)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied Operations And Management Information Systems at Northern Illinois University in Illinois; completed Master degree in 2005

"I was surprised how time-consuming it was to establish a client base using my own self-marketing skills which was not my strength. I was surprised that I have to have use my Mental Health skills when I deal with divorcing and stressed out clients." (Tax Account; 2012)

Career: 13 years of experience, currently based in Maine, female
School: Studied Accounting at Thomas in Maine; completed Bachelor degree in 1999

"I was surprised to discover how much "babysitting" was involved with my job. By this I mean that I was not prepared to work for and with clients who own firms grossing upwards of $1 million per year, or who themselves earn in the top tax rate, but who need someone to remind them to pay their electric bills and mortgage each month for $150 per hour. I was anticipating mergers of companies, individual tax returns for families making over $250,000, estate planning . . . NOT calling my clients over the weekends to remind them to pick up their dogs from the Vet and to make sure they approve their real estate tax payment this week. Granted, I work for an extremely full-service style firm, however, this wasn't the tax we were taught in college! I do prefer this style of accounting to a cubicle and a lifetime of Accounts Receivables, however!" (Tax Accountant; 2012)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Accounting And Finance at University Of Miami in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2006

"I was surprised to learn that accounting is more about remembering the rules, than about math. The computer programs do all the math. You just have to realize when something doesn't seem correct." (Accountant; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Accounting at CSU Fresno in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2009

Best & Worst Things About This Career

International Tax Accountant: "The best part of my job is when I can help a client understand some of the issues they may encounter in sending someone to another country. For example, a client who wants to send an employee to Brazil would need to know about the legal restrictions pertaining to employment contracts, how the payroll is administered, etc. The worst part of my job is finding updates for countries that are in political unrest, disaster zones, war zones, etc. This makes my job incredibly difficult at times when a client really needs that information and we just can't get it." (2011)

Director Of Tax Research And Consulting: "I have the freedom to set my schedule and work priorities, and do not have set metrics to meet relative to hours, time incurred, budgets, etc. However, I do have deadlines and the expectation to meet client requests. I am able to leverage my CPA experience and skills. I do not have to complete detailed timesheets, client billing, or meet audit independence requirements as was the case in public accounting. However, I sometimes feel that executive management doesn't appreciate my efforts and reward me as well financially as I expect." (2011)

Tax Accountant: "What I like best about my job is its constant challenges. There's always something that needs research because the law changes frequently. Financial analysis is also one of the highlights because it gives a clear understanding of how our investments work and how we perform in the different markets." (2010)

Career Background

Tax Accountant

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"Be Open Minded Of Your Knowledge...
Be open minded, and be ready to take criticism. You will not know everything going into the job, and you aren't expected to." (Tax Associate; 2014)

"Accounting Occupation Requires A Strict Personality...
If you want to enter into the Accounting field make sure that it suits your personality because it isn't for everyone. You will be able succeed if you are detail-oriented, patient and a highly organized individual." (Accountant; 2014)

"Go For The CPA Title...
Get your CPA. It will open doors for you." (Accountant; 2014)

"Don't Let One Class Exclude A Career Path...
Please do not decide what field you want to be in just from a class. Given my tax class in college, I would have never gone into this field...and I would have missed out. Ask questions about everything, understanding how things work will set the foundation for your knowledge base in any career. If you end up in the accounting field, get your CPA right out of college. Putting it off makes it harder to get it later. Be respectful, but also question your superiors. That is how you will learn and it also helps keep them on their toes." (International Tax Accountant; 2011)

"Start As A Tax Preparer...
Any individual pursuing this career should consider obtaining a credential such as a CPA or IRS Enrolled Agent. Additionally, one is a better consultant if one has spent time as a tax return preparer. A natural curiosity for how tax systems work and the circumstances for why tax laws are changed (political and economic environment) is useful. It is helpful to pay attention to details and possess an aptitude for numbers and basic math. Analytical skills such comparison is determining a change over time are useful." (Director Of Tax Research And Consulting; 2011)

"Gets More Interesting As You Go...
As boring as it may seem in the beginning, the further you get into the field, the more interesting and complex it gets. When pursuing a career in tax, be patient. Experience is what really moves you along. Having a CPA helps a lot and you can then decide if you want to pursue tax or stay in accounting. Be prepared to spend a lot of hours at work in the beginning. This job is cyclical and gets really busy at times, which requires long hours." (Tax Accountant; 2010)