Some accounting programs allow students to choose specialized degrees or concentrations. Taxation degrees build off fundamental accounting topics while specialized in personal and/or corporate taxes. Graduates with a taxation degree enjoy strong job prospects.
As long as individuals and businesses must pay taxes, they need eligible tax professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 1.4 million accountants and auditors work in the U.S., with 90,700 new positions projected from 2018-2028.
This resource explores tax concentrations at various degree levels, including common courses and potential careers for graduates.
What Is a Taxation Concentration?
Taxation covers all types of taxes, including income, property, payroll, and real estate tax. Unlike general accounting degrees, taxation concentrations focus on one part of the accounting process. These concentrations prepare graduates for positions like tax analyst and tax manager.
Some schools offer associate degrees in accounting, which may touch on taxation. Bachelor's in taxation programs delve further into taxation principles than associate degrees, but master's degrees offer advanced knowledge and skills in taxation. Some professional certifications require a related master's degree.
Taxation programs typically build off accounting skills, so many undergraduates concentrating in taxation earn bachelor's degrees in accounting. Courses in these programs differ from general accounting programs, focusing more on taxation. Due to the foundational nature of a bachelor's degree, general accounting degrees and accounting degrees with concentrations in taxation usually lead to similar careers. Both options prepare graduates for master's degrees in accounting or taxation.
Taxation concentrations offer many benefits, including career advancement opportunities, higher salary potential, and certification preparation. The following list outlines several benefits of pursuing a taxation concentration.
Some positions require specialized taxation knowledge and skills, which professionals can acquire through a taxation concentration.
Those who earn bachelor's or master's degrees in taxation tend to make higher wages than those with less education.
More Job Prospects
Employers seek a combination of education and experience, and many taxation concentrations supply learners with both, expanding their job opportunities.
Preparation for Certifications
Professional certifications, including the CPA and certified tax preparer (CTP) designations, require a minimum number of college credits. Taxation concentrations can help satisfy these requirements.
Those with a genuine interest in taxation can learn to do their own taxes and experience personal fulfillment and enrichment from a taxation concentration.
When Is a Taxation Concentration Better Than a General Accounting Degree?
Students who know they want to pursue a career related to taxation benefit from the specialized knowledge and skills offered by taxation concentrations. However, students who are unsure of their career goals often benefit more from general accounting degrees, which allow them to explore a variety of professional interests.
When Might a General Accounting Degree Be Better Than a Taxation Concentration?
General accounting programs are more common than taxation concentrations, so prospective accounting students can choose from more programs and institutions. General accounting degrees may also lead to more diverse career opportunities in accounting than taxation concentrations.
What About Other Concentrations?
The accounting field includes many concentrations aside from taxation, which lead to a variety of careers. For example, professionals who want to perform government tax audits benefit from forensic accounting or auditing concentrations.
Courses to Expect With a Taxation Concentration
The courses students take while earning taxation degrees depend on degree level and program. Most programs include core and elective requirements, and many require thesis or capstone projects.
Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several common courses found in taxation programs.
Financial accounting covers the impact of large economic events on various entities, including corporations, individuals, and investors. Students learn to analyze financial statements, communicate findings, and determine how current accounting practices might affect future finances. Other topics include financial reporting, risk analysis, and security analysis.
Federal Income Taxation
Sometimes split into an introductory and advanced course, federal income taxation covers the basic principles of income tax, including various tax brackets, tax rules, and definitions used to determine taxable income. Some programs focus on the relationship between federal and state income taxes.
Usually required for any business-related degree, business law introduces the American legal system and its relation to businesses. Topics covered include policies, procedures, and contracts.
Taxation of Business Entities
Typically taken during a master's in taxation, this course covers federal income taxes paid by businesses. Students examine topics like contributions, liquidations, acquisitions, and distributions.
Often offered as a graduate-level course, strategic management builds on prior learning and experience and teaches students new methods of strategic decision-making. Learners analyze businesses' vision and mission, explore how their current business models relate to their missions, and learn to implement new strategies.
Careers for Taxation Degree Graduates
Graduates who earn accounting degrees with taxation concentrations can pursue a variety of careers. Many taxation specialists work as accountants or auditors. According to the BLS, accountants and auditors earn a median annual salary of $71,550, with the top 10% of earners making more than $124,450.
According to the BLS, tax examiners and collectors, who only need a bachelor's degree, earn a median salary of $54,890. Tax examiners who work for the federal government earn an even higher median salary of $61,590.
Some tax concentration graduates find careers unrelated to accounting or taxation, such as top executive positions with corporations. Potential careers for graduates include:
Tax accountants work for individuals, private companies, and public organizations to prepare and submit tax documents. They also advise clients on how to strategically pay, defer, and eliminate taxes while complying with local, state, and federal laws.
Tax consultants work with individuals and businesses to strategize large purchases and financial moves to minimize tax payments. Some tax consultants also submit tax forms for clients. These professionals typically need CPA credentials and at least a bachelor's in accounting, though some employers prefer a master's degree.
Accountants who become licensed CPAs earn the "public accountant" moniker. These tax and accounting professionals work for accounting firms, large corporations, or themselves to prepare and submit local, state, and federal taxes. Public accountants may work long hours during tax season, typically between January and April.
A high-level position for tax professionals, tax managers prepare and file taxes for companies; oversee internal public offerings, mergers, and acquisitions; and ensure that clients remain compliant to avoid audits. Tax managers must hold a master's degree and CPA credentials.
Financial analysts study marketplace trends to develop investment methods for clients. Financial analysts often work for firms or corporations, though some start their own businesses and work for individuals. Financial analysts should hold bachelor's degrees at minimum.
Selecting an Accounting Program With a Taxation Concentration
Prospective students should consider the following factors before committing to a program that offers a taxation concentration.
Cost and Financial Aid
Prospective students should compare the cost of various schools and their financial aid offerings.
Each city, county, and state creates its own codes and regulations for taxation. Applicants should select programs in the region where they want to work.
Master's and bachelor's degrees in accounting typically take two and four years to complete, respectively, but some schools offer accelerated courses or programs, reducing degree length.
Sometimes the cheapest option does not lead to the best career outcomes. Students should research programs with strong outcomes related to their specific career interests.
Competitiveness of Admissions
Schools set various standards for admission, and some taxation concentrations reject more applicants than they accept. Students should research the admission requirements at each prospective school.
Online vs In-Person
Both undergraduate and graduate taxation concentrations come in online formats. Those who cannot commit to specific class schedules and require more flexibility should consider earning their degrees online.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are career options for graduates with a degree in taxation?
Taxation degrees lead to careers as tax accountants, tax consultants, finance analysts, and tax managers, along with other accounting careers.
What can I do with a master's in taxation?
Master's degrees in taxation qualify graduates to sit for various certification exams, including the CPA and CTP exams.
Is taxation hard to study?
Taxation builds off fundamental accounting topics. Taxation degrees prove difficult for those who do not like math, accounting, or policy.
Can you get a taxation degree online?
Some schools offer taxation degrees partially or entirely online, and online students can sometimes complete taxation degrees faster than on-campus students.
Is taxation a good career?
Individuals, organizations, and businesses need experienced tax professionals to handle their taxes, so taxation is a steadily growing, high-paying field.
Professional Organizations and Resources
Professional organizations provide students, recent graduates, and seasoned professionals with plenty of benefits, including networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities. The following list outlines several popular organizations for taxation and accounting professionals.
National Society of Tax Professionals Founded in 1985, the NSTP represents tax professionals across the country. Members receive access to newsletters, tax news, and other useful information. The NSTP also offers discounted education and research services to its members.
National Society of Accountants A large organization for all types of accounting professionals, the NSA offers members access to industry information, professional development resources, and exam study materials. NSA also awards scholarships to current accounting and taxation students across the nation.
Institute for Professionals in Taxation IPT serves over 6,000 tax consultants, corporate tax professionals, and current taxation students. Membership benefits include continuing education opportunities, networking opportunities, and access to exclusive publications.