Job of a tax consultant

Tax consultants, also know as tax advisors, are experts in tax law, compliance and planning. They serve individuals and businesses alike by staying current on new tax law and positioning taxpayers for long and short term tax optimization. A tax consultant typically expands on the role of tax preparer. While tax consultants prepare tax returns, they also often work closely with clients throughout the year to ensure client tax liability is minimized. Tax consultants are strong written and verbal communicators able to explain tax law and strategies in a way that is easy and accessible for clients to understand.

Tax consultants work for public accounting firms, law offices, financial consulting firms and many even have their own independent tax preparation and consultation businesses. In all settings, tax consultants can be expected to perform duties that include:

– Conducting research on tax laws

– Strategizing with clients to minimize tax liability

– Communicating with clients to explain tax issues

– Preparing tax returns

– Estate planning

– Keeping clients compliant with their tax obligations

Producing written content is a significant part of the job, as tax consultants must communicate their research findings including changes in tax laws that create opportunities for new tax strategy. Because a tax consultant may have many clients affected by the same issue, the ability to draft a well-written and concise letter is often the most effective means of disseminating information to a number of different clients.

Education Required

Tax consultants generally hold bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance or a related field; however, because no formal certification is required, individuals often take on advisory roles after years of experience in another tax related profession. Ultimately, professionals with both formal education and tax experience are best positioned for these careers. Obtaining licensure as a CPA demonstrates the formal education and professional experience needed to support a future as a successful tax consultant. Internal Revenue Service employees may have years of experience, yet no formal education and be very well suited for advisory roles allowing them to obtain positions as tax consultants because of their relevant experience alone.

 

Postgraduate education can also be beneficial to the tax consultant career path, and many pursue a Master of Science in Taxation. An option for more advanced postgraduate study is through a Juris Doctor degree in taxation program. This advanced degree provides an in-depth knowledge of tax law and allows graduates to practice as tax attorneys.

Associations and certifications

There are several professional designations that compliment the tax consultancy profession well. Each of these is offered by different governing bodies and involves unique certification requirements.

Accredited Tax Consultant

The most relevant certification to the tax consultant profession is the Accredited Tax Consultant (ATA) credential. This designation demonstrates that a professional has advanced knowledge in complex tax planning subjects, including estate and retirement planning. To achieve the designation, a candidate should have at least five years of experience in a tax-related profession, with at least 40 % of the work dedicated to tax planning and consulting. There are no minimum education requirements to be considered for an ATA credential. The candidate will be required to pass a thorough exam consisting of 100 multiple choice questions. The exam questions cover ethics, tax preparation, client consulting, bankruptcy, compliance, regulation and more.

Similar to a CPA, ATAs are required to meet annual education requirements to ensure the continuity of their certification. Although CPAs often need to obtain as many 120 credit hours during a three-year period, ATAs are only required to complete 90 hours of continuing education.

Tax consultants, also know as tax advisors, are experts in tax planning, law and compliance. While tax consultants prepare tax returns, they also often work closely with clients throughout the year to ensure client tax liability is minimized. Tax consultants are strong written and verbal communicators able to explain tax law and strategies in a way that is accessible and easy for clients to understand.

Tax consultants generally hold bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance or a related field; however, because no formal certification is required, individuals often take on advisory roles after years of experience in another tax related profession. The most relevant certification to the tax consultant profession is the Accredited Tax Consultant (ATA) credential.

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