Tax Accounting Programs and Schools

Students who are interested in pursing a degree in tax accounting will focus on accounting and business operations, tax policy and procedure, and tax legislation. Unlike traditional accounting, which focuses on public financial statements, tax accounting programs and professionals follow the tax laws set in place by the Internal Revenue Code.

Depending on your career interests, you have the option of enrolling in an associate, bachelor or master degree program in tax accounting and taxation and should expect to spend between two and eight years completing. In all tax accounting programs you can expect to cover courses such as payroll accounting, bookkeeping, business management, individual and business taxation, federal and state income taxes and cost accounting.

Online Opportunities:

Most colleges now offer both online options for accounting degrees in addition to traditional courses for completing your coursework. This is especially true at the higher degree levels because administrators understand that most students who take advantage of online opportunities are nontraditional students who are busy working professionals who also have family obligations.

To earn an online degree in tax accounting, students must complete a comprehensive course load consisting of finance classes, accounting classes, business management and business ethics classes, and business fundamental courses.

Licensing Requirements:

Although each state has its own licensing requirements for tax accountants, the typical requirement is a minimum of a bachelor degree and two years of full-time experience in the field of accounting. Additionally, You must possess the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential before you can file tax reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The National Association for the State Boards of Accountancy administers the test and the requirements to take the exam vary based on your state of residence. The CPA exam is computer-based and takes up to 14 hours to complete. It consists of four sections:

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation

Career Outlook:

There are many different career options available recent graduates with a degree specializing in tax accounting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020 there are 62,600 people employed as tax preparers in the United States who earn an average annual income of $52,710. When the category is expanded to include accounting, bookkeeping and payroll services, the median annual income remains similar at $52,240.

During this time, the states with the highest employment levels of tax preparers were California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois. Both New York and Texas reported some of the highest salaries among tax preparers as of May 2020. In fact, Texas ranked first in the nation, with an average salary of $73,480, followed by Alaska, at $71,450, New York, at $69,280, and Rhode Island, at $67,910.

Accountants and auditors who specialize in tax issues earned an average salary of $85,050 as of May 2020. The BLS predicts a 4 percent increase in accounting and auditing jobs between 2019 and 2029. People in this role typically work for businesses to help ensure that the company’s tax returns are prepared correctly and submitted on time. The projected increase is attributed to increased financial reporting regulations imposed by the federal government.

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for tax preparers and accountants and auditors represent national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data Accessed May 2021.