Accountants who provide tax preparation, bookkeeping and auditing services for their clients are called public accountants. Those who specialize in tax accounting usually either work for themselves or are employed by an accounting firm who performs those services for clients in both the private and business sector. Tax accountants may also find themselves advising management clients on business decisions due to the tax impact that various types of capital allocation can have. Tax burdens drive many decision making processes on both a business and personal level, right down to the purchase of a home.
Most tax accountants hold a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Tax accountants have to engage in continuing education in order to stay on top of the constant changes in tax codes. Many choose to obtain status as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), although many tax accountants work entire careers without CPA status. The most tangible value of CPA status is the ability to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accountants without CPA status cannot do. CPAs must pass a national exam and meet state requirements as well; licensing for CPAs is provided at the state level.
There were about 1.3 million accountants of all types working in the U.S. in 2006. Twenty one percent of them worked for public accounting firms and can be considered tax accountants. Ten percent of all accountants are self employed, and those individuals are also usually tax accountants. Based on these Department of Labor figures, there were over 400,000 public accountants working for accounting and tax preparation firms in 2006.
Growth is expected to be strong in this field, projected at 18% over the decade 2006-2016. A portion of this growth will be driven by increasing requirements for work in the tax field due to increased reporting requirements and the effect of business globalization on internal accounting.
Lowest 10%; $56,849
Median Salary $72,270
Highest 10% $89,390
Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Salary.com