Advantages & Disadvantages of an Internal Revenue Agent

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Internal Revenue Agent making phonetical from desk.
Internal Revenue Agent making phonetical from desk. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you live in the United States and earn an income, paying taxes is an inevitable part of life. Internal Revenue Service agents are federal government employees charged with the task of ensuring that taxes are paid in the proper amount and in a timely manner. The position of IRS agent can offer a number of potential advantages and disadvantages.

Benefitting Others

One advantage of being an IRS agent is that agents have the satisfaction of knowing their efforts benefit others. By ensuring that all citizens and corporations are paying their fair share in taxes, they are helping to provide the necessary funds for a wide variety of essential federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. They also track down individuals who attempt to defraud the tax system by claiming improper tax deductions or fail to file tax returns and are involved in the criminal prosecution of tax law violators.

Pay and Benefits

Another advantage of being an agent is the potentially lucrative compensation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of IRS agents was $91,507 as of March 2009. They also receive a comprehensive fringe benefits package that is available to full-time federal government employees, including health insurance and life insurance, paid vacation and sick leave and tax-deferred investment and retirement programs. Because of the ongoing need to collect taxes, IRS agent positions can offer a relatively high level of job security.

Complexities

On the downside, IRS agents must deal with the complex nature of the federal tax code. Although much of the necessary number-crunching tasks are conducted with the use of computer programs, agents still need to have a thorough understanding of tax laws. Because the laws and codes change frequently, it can be difficult for agents to keep up. Agents who work with corporate taxes must deal with even more complicated tax returns, according to the M.B.A. Today website.

High Stress

IRS agents often carry heavy caseloads and must meet tight deadlines, which can create high levels of stress. Agents with poor time management and organizational skills may struggle to keep up with the demands of the job. The nature of the position requires agents to deal with individuals who are not pleased about having to pay more in taxes than expected or having their reported tax deductions questioned. Thin-skinned individuals or those who don't want to deal with unpleasant situations may not enjoy being an agent.

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