Counting the Number of Opportunities as a Tax Accountant

By Shakor Jukes – December 23, 2014
Counting the Number of Opportunities as a Tax Accountant

As a current entry-level professional, I’m just beginning to jump start my career in the accounting profession. Upon graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2012 with my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, I continued to further my education at Montclair State University and finished with my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) this past August. 

In order to write this article, I’ve interviewed various tax professionals and read a few books on the tax accountant position to provide you with a general understanding of a career as a tax accountant.

For most accounting students, the goal is to obtain a job immediately upon graduating undergrad. As a student, how do you exactly know which branch of accounting is your ideal career path? You’ve spent numerous years learning various topics in accounting, but how does that translate into working in those fields full-time all year round? Today we take a look at the role of the Tax Accountant.

Tax Accountant

By definition Tax Accounting is the method of accounting that focus on tax issues. The Internal Revenue Code provides specific rules in which should be followed.

In today's business world, it is rare a company does something that will not just about every action impacts a company’s financial statements. It is the role of the tax accountant to reconcile the company's operational goals with its financial ones.

A tax accountant’s primary duties are  to provide expert answers to tax questions, perform tax reporting and, offer solutions and strategies to defer or reduce tax liabilities for the company. There's often tax controversy due to different interruptions of the law, but it is the accountant’s responsibility to generate a definitive tax position for clients.

Needed Skills

The field of taxation is an ever-changing one, and each day is different. One thing that does remains constant are the essential skills needed to remain successful within tax accounting. These skills include:

  • The desire to never stop learning -- Continuous learning and research helps you remain up to date with current tax laws and requirements. Tax laws can be very complex and require additional research for a complete understanding and to have the ability to provide sufficient tax services/advice. 
  • Effective written communication -- Being a good writer will serve you well. Tax accountants must be skilled at writing because they communicate more through written documents than through verbal conversation. You’ll provide an answer to a tax question, client advice or a recommendations, or a persuasive argument in a tax opinion. In most cases, a tax accountant would communicate with others who may not be familiar with tax lingo, so it’s important to effectively translate the information for a layperson’s understanding. 
  • Time management --While common among all professions, time management is especially important in tax accounting due to the complexity of duties. For public accounting,time management is vital during “busy season.” Get in the habit of creating to-do lists. You’ll get a sense of accomplishment as you check things off your list.

Starting You Career as a Tax Accountant

  1. Undertake a tax internship while at college. 
  2. Find a mentor that is a seasoned tax professional and is willing to offer valuable career advice. 
  3. Obtain your CPA license as soon as possible. 
  4. Consider graduate school (e.g., master’s in taxation) or law school.

Career Opportunities

We live in a world that’s rapidly changing, and that’s no different for a tax accountant. Specialization in taxation niches has replaced the tax generalist. Companies are no longer advertising general tax positions. Practitioners should specialize in tax areas by obtaining deep industry knowledge. International taxation, federal taxation, state taxation, governmental taxation are a few specialized areas. You can also specialize in a particular industry, such as consumer goods, real estate, nonprofits and so on.  You can even enter academia and be an accounting professor. While you can specialize in a certain category of taxation, you still need to have fairly good knowledge of most areas of the federal and state tax law.

If I was to give you one piece of advice in deciding which tax accounting area to pursue, I would suggest getting exposure to many areas and choose one that interests you the most. There’s no substitute for being engaged and energized when going to work each day.

Shakor J. Jukes

Shakor J. Jukes is a 2014 MBA graduate from Montclair State University. Since graduating, he has been working on obtaining his CPA license. Shakor is a 2014 AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop attendee and he is currently working as a Junior Accountant at The Morét Group.