If you're the type who triple checks your work, tax auditing may be the profession for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals work to ensure that companies or agencies align with local, state and federal tax laws. Auditors either work for a specific company and offer advice on a variety of financial and tax-related issues, or they work for external firms and audit financial records for clients. As corporate laws become more and more complex, there is a growing need for competent, well-versed auditors in our rapidly developing economy.
Tax auditors are typically well-versed in generally accepted accounting principles. They may be forward-looking and work on forecasting future tax bills, or they may analyze past tax filings to be sure they were completed in a timely, appropriate manner. According to the American Institute of CPAs, tax auditors may consult with the in-house or consulting senior tax manager on specific issues, such as the filing of corporate tax returns, atypical tax scenarios or tax planning. Additionally, a significant portion of the job includes reporting to clients or senior management regarding their analysis, research and suggestions.
Internal vs. External
Many companies retain their own tax auditors as full-time staff. They typically focus on internal controls and procedures and also help guard against fraud or financial mismanagement. Publicly traded companies often hire third-party auditors in addition to their in-house staff. These teams will analyze the company's filings and tax practices to offer an official opinion regarding the company's compliance with tax law. They may also offer advice on how to best handle the various taxes levied against the company. This can be particularly helpful for large corporations that operate in numerous states and countries where tax laws can vary dramatically.
Entry-level tax auditors typically have a bachelor's degree in accounting. Some auditors may work for a tax preparation service prior to their current position. Those wanting to become certified public accountants often work for a public accounting firm and spend several years as junior auditors to accrue the relevant number of professional hours required to earn their certification. Those wanting to stay in the specific field of tax audit will usually become senior auditors after accruing several years of experience. These individuals often serve as the supervising employee for audits or large national or international clients or companies, or they may compile and file corporate tax returns.
Salary and Outlook
While pay will vary, depending on certification and level of experience, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median salary of $63,550 in 2012. With an average job growth rate of 13 percent, auditors can expect to find the highest-paying careers in the finance, manufacturing, management and accounting industries. As the economy continues to become more global, and as companies are required to adhere to more tax and corporate regulations, the demand for well-trained auditors will likely increase.
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