Tax Associate: Salary and Career Profile
Tax associates are also known as tax preparers and tax specialists. They are typically employed by financial service companies and accounting firms, but some are self-employed. Tax associates assist individuals and small businesses with federal and state income tax compliance and preparation. Launching a tax associate career usually requires earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tax associates should experience steady employment growth in the coming years. Job growth is expected through an increase in the number of businesses, along with changing regulations and increased enforcement of tax laws.
The best opportunities for a successful tax associate career will likely be found in larger companies and by individuals with specialized training and advanced education. Professional credentials, such as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation, can also boost career opportunities.
Tax Associate Job Duties
Tax associates work with all types of small businesses, as well as individuals, preparing simple to complex corporate, partnership and individual tax returns. Tax associates interview clients regarding income and expenses, and review financial records like income statements and expenditure documentation. They use available adjustments and deductions to keep their clients’ tax liability to a minimum. Researching tax issues and providing related documentation are also part of this professional’s job duties.
Accounting expertise is a necessity for all tax associates. Keeping clients or employers in compliance with IRS guidelines is also vital to a successful tax associate career. For maximum efficiency, tax associates often use sophisticated tax preparation software applications. Some tax associates are hired by large businesses or organizations to work in accounting or payroll departments, ensuring proper tax setups and deductions.
Tax associates usually work in an office setting. Some travel may be required. The job can be stressful, especially during tax season, when tax associates are often expected to put in long hours.
Salary Potential for Tax Associates
National salary data on Indeed.com indicates that tax associates earned an average salary of $59,000 in August 2010. According to GlassDoor.com, tax associates at major financial service firms had annual incomes between $45,000 and $75,000 as of August 2010. Recent bachelor’s graduates will generally start out toward the lower end of the range, although those who have passed the CPA exam will often earn more. The top salaries typically go to those with the most experience, certifications and advanced education.
Education and Training
Most tax associate jobs require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Many professionals choose to become CPAs to advance their tax associate careers. Employers sometimes prefer to hire candidates who hold an MBA degree with a specialization in accounting and/or finance, or those who have passed the CPA exam.
The first step to a tax associate career generally begins with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Program coursework often includes statistics, economics, finance and public administration.
Employers can be confident that graduates of an accounting education program are able to:
- Accurately establish accounting information systems and tax preparation procedures.
- Use computers and specialized software to prepare and file tax returns.
- Analyze corporate and individual taxation, trust tax and estate tax systems.
- Adhere to the latest tax regulations and standards.
- Apply knowledge gained from a bachelor’s program toward an advanced degree or industry certifications that may be required for certain jobs.
Is a Tax Associate Career a Good Choice for You?
Tax associates need to be effective communicators and independent, highly detail-oriented workers. They must also develop a variety of professional skills, like critical-thinking, decision-making and problem-solving abilities. If you possess these qualities and the idea of working with numbers and tax laws appeals to you, then pursuing a tax associate career could be a great move.