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How To Become A Tax Consultant: Degree & Career Guide
Thinking about your tax is enough to make you panic. When you think about doing it yourself and navigating its intricate complexities all by yourself, it is enough to set your nerves on edge. But luckily, in a world where taxes are so important, there are people who are dedicated to providing people and companies with valuable tax advice and information.
Becoming a tax consultant can be extremely beneficial, especially considering that tax is a permanent factor in our lives. This means that job stability in this particular field is guaranteed.
To become a tax consultant, you would need to obtain a bachelor's degree, you would need to obtain your CPA, you would need to gain hands-on experience (which you may even obtain before taking your CPA), and then you can apply for a role as a tax consultant.
Let us take a closer look at this career and what steps you would need to take to pursue this role.
What Is A Tax Consultant?
Tax consultants use their knowledge of tax law to assist and aid their clients with tax-related concerns. They work with individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises, and they provide assistance to clients in understanding their tax obligations.
Taxes are usually so complicated and that is because they need to be so precise. It is for this reason that tax consultants dedicate their entire careers to learning every facet associated with taxes. This allows them to harness this expertise and assist others, whose focus is not taxes, in getting this done correctly.
While tax consultants do operate in a very technical space in that they need to calculate tax liabilities, prepare tax returns, and devise effective tax solutions for their clients, a large part of what they do involves working with other people in the form of clients. This means that they need to have great people skills and they need to be able to fulfill people-centric duties.
What Do Tax Accountants Do?
When working with businesses, tax consultants need to make sure that an organization's tax strategy is accurate and effective, and that it is done correctly. They need to make sure that it is in line with regulations.
They also need to have a working knowledge of state and federal laws that pertain specifically to tax.
A tax consultant can often be found working in accounting firms or financial accounting firms, and in some cases, their services may be readily available to anyone who requires assistance when conducting their tax returns.
As a specialist in the field of tax, it is usually expected that a tax consultant's advice pertaining to tax processes is true and correct. In many cases, tax consultants are the only sources that people consult with for everything pertaining to their taxes. It is for that reason that they are expected to be licensed and that they have the ability to provide factually correct information to clients.
Steps To Become A Tax Consultant
Step One: Obtain A Bachelor's Degree
Once you have decided that tax is the field of study that fascinates you most and that you want to pursue this as your career path, you would need to enroll for your bachelor's degree. Ideally, you would enroll for a bachelor's degree in accounting or any business and finance-related field. This will equip you with the knowledge you need as it pertains to tax.
Step Two: Become A Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
In order to become a tax consultant, you need to obtain your CPA. The CPA is a major exam that comprises four major parts and you are required to complete the exam within one and a half years. The exam is set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the aim is to assess the extent of the candidate's knowledge in the field of accounting.
Given that tax is such a big part of the accounting process, it is easy to see why a CPA is required for you to become a tax consultant.
It is important to note that the requirements and the CPA exam vary across all states. Before you consider taking your CPA, it is extremely important that you first research what your state requirements are and that you make sure you meet all state requirements.
Step Three: Gain Hands-On Experience
If you are hoping to be successful in this career, it is extremely important that you make sure to garner some hands-on and direct industry experience. One of the best ways to do so is by applying to be a part of an internship program where you can work with senior tax consultants and gain on-the-job experience.
Once again, depending on the state requirements for the CPA exam, you may need to complete an internship before taking the exam, especially if a certain amount of experience is required before hand. If not, and if the requirements allow, you may consider applying for an internship after you have completed your CPA.
Step Four: Obtain Your License
Once you have your degree, internship, and CPA in hand, it is time to obtain your state licensure as a tax consultant. Much like with the CPA, each state has a variety of different requirements that may vary. It is important to know what the licensure requirements are so that you do not experience any delays when trying to obtain your license.
Step Five: Search For A Job
Now that you are ready to join the workforce, it is time to search for a job that suits your needs and your level of qualification and expertise.
How Much Does A Tax Consultant Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tax preparers, the field of which tax consultants comprise, earn a median annual salary of $46,290.
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Tax Consultant?
You would need advanced knowledge and understanding of all tax-related concepts, and you would need to know how this effectively translates into real-life practices.
Aside from the already assumed skills that they are required to have, they would need to have superior communication skills and a knack for working with other people. They would need to be able to effectively communicate with a wide array of clients and be able to explain complex tax terminology in a way that is concise and easy to understand.
Do I Have To Pay To Hire A Tax Consultant?
Since tax consultants are providing you with a tax-related service, you are required to pay them for their services. Essentially, tax consultants will be assisting you and carrying out duties that you are unable to do for yourself. In such cases, they are needed, and you are liable to pay them for assisting you and meeting your tax needs.
Tax consultant fees may differ from firm to firm or from consultant to consultant, but the responsibility lies with you to be aware of their fees before time.
If you enjoy working with numbers and if the field of tax has always fascinated you, then perhaps being a tax consultant is the role for you. It will be great knowing that for as long as taxes are around, you will be needed.
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