A tax accountant is a specialized accountant. He is responsible for the calculation of tax liability and the preparation of tax returns. He may also file tax returns on behalf of his clients. Even though a tax accountant will spend a significant amount of time preparing tax returns, this is not the only thing he does.
A tax accountant will also play an advisory role. He may be engaged to advise clients on legal methods of reducing their tax liability. These methods may include advising clients to make donation to registered charities or on ways to receive income so as to pay lower tax.
Clients will also hire a tax accountant to represent them should they come under the investigation of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The accountant will act on his client’s behalf and deal with the IRS agents during an audit, or will fight off any claims against the client made by the IRS. He will also represent the client in tax disputes and will make tax refund claims, if any, for his client.
The tax accountant will need to be very well versed in financial accounting principles, tax legislation and the legal and tax implications of his client’s business and transactions. He should keep abreast with any new tax developments that will affect his clients’ business as he will be required to keep his clients informed on how the developments will affect them.
The job of a tax accountant may be a tad bit complex and require extensive accounting knowledge. For this reason, tax accountants must have significant work experience in accounting. They will usually hold a degree in accounting and more often than not be certified public accountants (CPAs). Tax accounting is a specialty in accounting so you will find that many tax accountants were previously public accountants who decided to specialize in taxation. Some firms will prefer to hire a tax accountant who has an additional qualification in tax law. Other firms may prefer to hire an individual with an advanced degree such as master’s in taxation.
The ideal candidate for a position in tax accounting should possess a number of attributes. The person should be detail oriented, have excellent oral and written communication skills, excellent research skills, technical expertise, have the ability to priorities between many competing tasks.
A tax accountant will work in a number of different settings. Some will work for full service accounting firms, some will work for individual companies, or for the government or some will freelance.