Job Universe: Tax Examiners and Collectors

Tax examiners usually must have a bachelor's degree in accounting.

  • The job: Taxes are one of the certainties of life, and as long as governments collect taxes, there will be jobs for tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents. Tax examiners do similar work whether they are employed at the federal, state, or local level. They review filed tax returns for accuracy and determine whether tax credits and deductions are allowed by law. Collectors, also called revenue officers in the IRS, deal with delinquent accounts. When a collector takes a case, he or she first sends the taxpayer a notice. The collector then works with the taxpayer on how to settle the debt.
  • Outlook: Two factors should increase the demand for revenue agents and tax collectors: The federal government is expected to increase its tax-enforcement efforts. Also, new technology and information sharing among tax agencies will make it easier for agencies to pinpoint potential offenders, increasing the number of cases for audit and collection. The large number of retirements expected over the next 10 years is expected to create many job openings at all levels of government.
  • Experience: Tax examiners usually must have a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related discipline or a combination of education and full-time accounting, auditing, or tax compliance work. Collectors usually must have some combination of college education and experience in collections, management, customer service, or tax compliance or as a loan officer or credit manager. A bachelor's degree is required for employment as a collector with the IRS.
  • The not-so-good: Stress can result from the need to work under a deadline in checking returns and evaluating taxpayer claims. Collectors also must face the unpleasant task of confronting delinquent taxpayers.
  • Pay: In May 2006, median annual earnings for all tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents were $45,620. Earnings also vary by occupational specialty. For example, in the federal government in 2006, tax examiners earned an average of $38,290, revenue agents earned $82,204, and tax specialists earned $55,100.

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This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.