What is a tax specialist?

The term “tax specialist” can refer to a variety of positions and roles – tax accountants, tax advisors, tax preparers, tax managers, etc. However, one thing all of these jobs have in common is the need for expertise in tax. They utilize this expertise to guide companies and clients through increasingly complex and labyrinthine tax rules and regulations.

At Parker + Lynch, we help tax specialists align with exciting opportunities at leading companies across the country. Whether you are looking for a temporary or permanent position, we can help you zero in on the job you are looking for. Explore our available tax specialist jobs and apply today.

Tax specialist job outlook

America’s tax laws and regulations are amongst the most complicated in the world, and with every new piece of legislation they are getting even more complex. Thus, the demand for tax professionals who understand the intricacies of tax rules is on the rise. Companies need tax professionals to provide strategic guidance on tax planning, monitoring and compliance.

Another positive trend for tax professionals is the fact that more and more companies are operating on a global scale, creating demand for people who can untangle the web of jurisdictions and international tax laws. For instance, when a product is developed in India, sold to customers in America and distributed by a company in China, figuring out what should be taxed, and how, can prove extremely difficult. But tax specialists with international experience can provide answers, making them valuable assets in today’s economy.

What does a tax specialist do?

Tax specialists can work at a variety of levels and in a variety of settings, including corporations, nonprofits and government agencies. They can also work as private, individual practitioners.

At a minimum, tax specialists fill out the necessary forms for their clients or for the businesses in which they work. More experienced tax specialists review the work of others, while senior-level tax professionals help set tax policies, ensure compliance and advise executive leadership on best practices and emerging issues related to tax.

Essential skills for tax specialists.

Being successful in a tax job requires a lot more than just advanced mathematical skills. Some of the traits essential for tax professionals include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Time management
  • Multitasking
  • Analytical ability
  • Communication skills (to engage and inform clients)

In addition to the skills listed above, the most successful tax specialists of today also have strong technical knowledge. Firms are implementing new electronic systems for preparing, storing and submitting tax-related forms and statements, and if you want to keep your skills current and your future potential wide open, it is imperative to understand these emerging tools and software. Furthermore, an understanding of big data systems, and an ability to interpret and crunch large amounts of data points, can help set you apart in forward-thinking organizations.

Educational requirements for tax specialists.

Nearly all employers require tax specialists to have completed a bachelor degree program. Bachelor’s degrees can be earned in accounting or in related areas such as math, business administration, finance, etc. However, most managerial and senior-level roles require a master’s degree in accountancy with a focus on tax.

To perform as a tax accountant, you must obtain a license from your local state to practice as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Only CPAs are able to submit and file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Common interview questions for tax specialists.

Every company takes a different approach to interviews, but there are some questions that you should expect to be asked in an interview.

  • What sort of companies/clients have you supported in the past?
  • If you encounter a situation that you are unfamiliar with, how do you research to find the answer?
  • Do you have experience resolving discrepancies with the IRS on behalf of your clients?
  • How do you handle heavy volumes of work during tax season?
  • How do you stay knowledgeable of the latest changes to tax laws, rules and regulations?
  • Can you describe the systems you have used and your comfort level with each?

Resources and support for tax specialists.

Given the complex nature of tax practice, even the most distinguished professionals can use a little assistance now and then. Fortunately, there is a lot of support available. For example:

  • Consider joining the National Association of Tax Professionals, the largest nonprofit organization that serves individuals specializing in tax preparation.
  • Leverage the latest updates directly from the IRS, a great way to keep your skills and knowledge current.
  • Subscribing to Accounting Today, the leading newspaper dedicated to the accounting and finance community, can help you stay abreast of tax changes and best practices.

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