Your guide to becoming a tax manager
Do you want to build a career that offers you the opportunity to interact with clients, help them achieve their financial goals, and answer complex tax issues and problems they and their business face? Do you want to be a leader and a mentor for your younger or less experienced colleagues as they learn the ropes of the profession? Would you like to have insight into all your clients’ activities and see what they are doing in terms of investments, financial activities, and planning?
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then there is a good chance that a tax manager career could be a suitable option for you. However, the road from this point to becoming a tax manager is long, and – apart from the will to succeed – it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, motivation, and study to get there. Let’s find out what a tax manager is, and what you have to do to become one.
What is a tax manager?
Tax managers hold critical positions in their companies and are responsible for a wide array of duties that vary depending on the size of their organization. The tax manager role can be diverse and rewarding, providing access to leadership positions in their organization.
Tax managers are experienced professionals who manage their company’s tax department and coordinate all its tax-related activities. They ensure that their organization is compliant with all laws and regulations and that the department they lead provides accurate and timely tax services for their organization, its clients, or both.
Tax managers participate in end-of-year reporting and are in charge of everything revolving around tax planning and tax return documentation. They advise their organization’s top management on matters such as risk management and risk mitigation, stay up to date with new tax laws and trends, and evaluate the impact legal changes or new provisions can have over the business.
A tax manager’s checklist:
Ensure that their organization’s business operations are compliant with tax policies, laws and regulations
Manage and coordinate their company’s tax department
Manage and coordinate their company’s tax department
Advise on tax-related matters
Participate in end-of-year reporting
What to expect from a career in tax accounting?
Contrary to popular belief, a career in tax can be pretty dynamic, offering a good balance between customer interaction and actual desk work. As a tax professional, you answer emails, take calls, or meet customers directly to discuss their financial activity. In addition, you research and plan your clients’ tax situation, and work to identify ways to help them pay less tax.
So, if you’re passionate about the world of taxes, you enjoy liaising with people, and like the pressure – and rewards – that come with a leadership role, then a tax manager career may be the right choice for you.
The tax manager career path
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that “employment of financial managers is projected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.” Tax managers fall into this growth category, so if your goal is to become one, you are choosing a lucrative profession that is in high demand. The median yearly salary in 2020 for tax managers was $98,180.
As a tax manager, you have access to numerous career options, ranging from coordinating the tax department of a medium-sized business or a large corporation, joining a federal or government agency, being a self-employed individual, or starting your own specialized company.
Skills to be a successful tax manager
There is no specific list of formal requirements that directly qualify you for a tax manager position. If you want to be considered for such a role, you must show extensive experience in the fields of accounting and tax, as well as an impressive mixture of soft and hard skills, abilities, and competencies. Let’s have a closer look at the most important ones.
Earn a bachelor’s in accounting
Most tax managers start their careers as accountants, so earning a bachelor’s in accounting should be the first step on your education path. This program offers you the body of knowledge necessary to start your career and continue your education.
Earning a bachelor’s degree takes around 4 years or 120 credit hours, and admission criteria generally include having a high-school diploma and being able to prove solid mathematical and writing skills. Prominent institutions ask for strong college admission test results and a score of at least 2.5 in your General Public Assessment (GPA).
Continue your education with a master’s
A master’s degree dives deep into practices and processes, helping you advance your career by standing out from other candidates for a tax manager position. A master’s in accounting program also gives you the chance to go for a specialization, one of them being taxation. Choosing it, you learn local and global taxation processes, techniques, and practices and acquire specialist tax planning competencies, which are essential for a career in tax.
Most universities offer the possibility to choose either a hybrid or an online program, giving you the possibility to work and study at the same time. Thus, earning a master’s in tax offers you the opportunity to apply the knowledge you learn in class at your workplace and accumulate both theoretical and practical experience in the field. Juggling between the 2 is difficult, though, so if you do that, try to be as organized as possible in both environments.
Become a certified public accountant
It usually takes 2 years or 35-40 credit hours to earn your master’s degree and, combined with the credit hours from your bachelor’s program, you should have no problem in qualifying to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Obtaining such a credential is an excellent way to diversify your employment opportunities and set yourself apart from the competition.
Become a certified management accountant
Professionals who seek to obtain a management role in the accounting industry tend to become Certified Management Accountants (CMAs). This certification proves that you have acquired advanced know-how in planning, control, analysis, strategic financial management, and decision-making. You can obtain the CMA certification once you pass the exams organized by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).
To qualify for the CMA exam, you need to have significant business and accounting knowledge. IMA requires candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting obtained from an accredited institution.