Tax Consultants

Tax consultants, also referred to as tax advisers, are trained in tax law. They understand the regulations regarding business and individual taxes and advise clients on how to comply with both federal and state tax legislation. The job outlook for financial and tax consultants is projected to increase by 32 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Duties and Responsibilities

Tax consultants provide their clients with financial and tax-related advice. They meet with clients over the phone and in-person to discuss their clients’ tax situations. They educate their clients on tax options, including how to legally lower tax liability or how to compute taxes based on their investments. Tax consultants might prepare and complete client tax returns and assist clients in finding the right deductions, credits and adjustments based on their financial situation. Consultants must stay up-to-date on the latest federal and state tax requirements, consult tax law handbooks and look for bulletins regarding common and atypical tax procedures.

Work Environment

Tax consultants might be self-employed or work for an agency. Often they must travel to client locations, conferences and classes. Most work full-time and 24 percent work over 50 hours per week. Working on weekends, evenings and holidays might be required to attend conferences or meet with new clients.

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Requirements and Educational Preferences

Tax advisers and consultants typically need a bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, business or tax law. Additional coursework in estate planning, investments and risk management might be beneficial. If consultants prepare tax returns, they must become a registered Tax Return Preparer with the IRS. Completing and passing the Tax Return Preparer Competency Test is required. A Certified Financial Planner certificate from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is recommended for consultants who offer financial advising services in addition to tax consulting. Passing this certification shows competency in financial advising, such as helping clients plan for retirement or create budgets. It requires a bachelor’s degree, three years of work experience, and a passing score on the exam.

Personal Qualities

Tax consultants must be well-spoken and have excellent communication skills since they deal with clients and other professionals on a daily basis. Having analytical and math skills are essential to this job. Since the tax and financial consulting industry is competitive, tax consultants often need selling skills to help increase their client base and sell their services to prospective clients.