What is a Taxation Degree?

Taxation is the practice of collecting money from citizens and companies by governments to finance public institutions, goods, and services. Tax professionals provide tax advice. They perform tax analyses, calculate tax liabilities, and ensure that clients are meeting their tax obligations.

Degree programs in taxation prepare students to work in this diverse and often complex field. Coursework spans federal tax, state and local income taxes, international tax, individual taxes, corporate income tax, payroll taxes, penalties and procedures, tax planning, tax databases, income from trusts and estates, auditing, managerial accounting, and more.

Tax affects our finances and our daily lives. The people who study it and become tax experts help us manage the inescapable reality that it is.

Program Options

Note
Typically, taxation is not a distinct major. It is more commonly offered as a specialty within an accounting or business administration program.

Bachelor’s Degree in Taxation – Three to Four Year Duration
At the bachelor’s level, almost all programs which teach taxation do so in conjunction with general accounting and finance courses. In addition to gaining specialized knowledge related to tax laws and regulations, students learn fundamental skills required by every accounting and financial professional. An internship is a common feature of the typical curriculum.

Here is a sample program overview:

• Quantitative Skills
• Introduction to Management
• Business and Communication Skills
• Financial Accounting
• Governmental and Non-Profit Accounting
• Accounting Information Systems
• Business Economics
• Business Law
• Marketing
• Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship
• Essentials of Financial Technology
• Introduction to Taxation
• Federal Income Tax
• Financial Management
• Cost Management and Accounting – Integrated Business Processes with SAP ERP System
• Auditing and Assurance
• Corporate Reporting
• Business Research Methods
• Management Accounting Techniques
• Corporate Law
• Ethics and Corporate Governance
• Corporate Finance
• Advanced Taxation
• Strategic Management Accounting
• Business Analysis
• Financial Risk Management
• Business Taxation
• Tax Planning
• Tax and Accounting
• Investigation in Taxation

Master’s Degree in Taxation – Two Year Duration
Distinct programs in taxation exist largely at the master’s level. Programs are designed to prepare students for careers as tax professionals and tax consultants in public practice, government, and industry. Some schools offer opportunities to pursue specializations, such as corporate taxation, employee benefits law, estate planning, state and local taxation, and international taxation. Instead of a traditional master’s thesis, some programs require that students prepare a research paper addressing a contemporary tax issue.

These are examples of core courses from a master’s level taxation curriculum:

• Professional Tax Practice – using case studies, this course introduces theories and methods of tax research and analysis; the role and regulation of the tax practitioner and representation of taxpayers before the IRS; IRS examination of returns, statutes of limitations, and tax practice strategies
• Federal Taxation of Income – federal tax law as it applies to individuals; determination of gross income, deductions and credits, identity of the taxable person, tax accounting
• Transactions – property transactions (tangible and intangible) and the tax consequences
• Corporations and Shareholders – taxation of events in the life of a corporation; taxability of associations, partnerships, and trusts as corporations; tax considerations in the organization of the corporation; dividend distributions; stock redemptions; and complete and partial liquidations
• Multi-Jurisdictional Taxation – international, multistate, and e-business taxation in the global environment; geographic allocation of income and avoidance of double taxation
• Internship in Tax Practice – integrating classroom study with real-world experience

Elective classes may cover topics like the following:

• Federal Taxation of Income from Trusts and Estates
• Mergers and Acquisitions
• Investment Companies and Other Financial Products
• Intellectual Properties
• Tax Aspects of Buying and Selling a Business
• Tax Accounting Problems
• State and Local Tax Practice
• International Tax Practice

Degrees Similar to Taxation

Accounting
Degree programs in accounting prepare students for the work of gathering, recording, analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, and communicating financial information. This includes examining accounting records, reconciling accounts, preparing financial reports, and completing tax returns. The typical curriculum includes classes in mathematics, business management, business communication, business research, finance, and economics.

Auditing
Auditors review accounting records and verify that they are accurate and legitimate. Auditing degree programs give students the skills needed to professionally carry out this responsibility. They are therefore focused on examination, analysis, and verification.

Finance
In very simple terms, the finance field is about helping businesses, organizations, and individuals make money. Degree programs in finance, therefore, teach students about investing, financial and estate planning, risk management, interest rates, insurance, and taxes. Their objective is to produce graduates who are ready to help both commercial and retail clients reach their short- and long- term financial goals.

International Business
Students of international business study business from a global perspective. They learn how to work cross-culturally, how to manage multinational businesses, and how to turn local and national companies into international corporations. Coursework often includes some foreign language studies, as well.

Skills You'll Learn

The demands of completing a taxation degree program leave graduates with a diverse set of transferable skills:

• Adaptability and Time Management – working in taxation requires prioritizing tasks, meeting deadlines, and taking responsibility for a professional workload
• Analysis and Problem solving – reducing the amount of tax that a client pays involves using a range of tools and finding clever solutions
• Attention to Detail – taxation regulations are very specific and must be interpreted in exactly that way
• Communication – an integral part of working in taxation is explaining complex regulations in a way that non-specialists can understand
• Computer Literacy – modern taxation involves using sophisticated software
• Industry / Commercial Awareness – keeping up with changes in the field is essential
• Information Processing – taxation involves analyzing large amounts of information
• Integrity – taxation specialists are expected to adhere to strict ethical standards
• Numeracy – taxation specialists must be comfortable working with numbers
• Organization – taxation specialists face large, complex tasks which must be broken down and tackled methodically

What Can You Do with a Taxation Degree?

A degree in taxation opens the door to a wide range of career opportunities in both the public and private sectors:

• Tax Accountant – prepares and submits tax documents for individuals, private companies, and public organizations
• Tax Consultant – works with individuals and businesses to strategize large purchases and financial moves to minimize tax payments; some tax consultants also submit tax forms for clients
• Public Accountant – Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are referred to as public accountants; they work for accounting firms, large corporations, or in private practice and prepare and submit local, state, and federal taxes
• Tax Manager – professionals in this position must hold a master’s degree and have CPA credentials; they prepare and file taxes for companies, oversee internal public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, and ensure that clients remain compliant to avoid audits
Financial Analyst – studies marketplace trends to develop investment methods for clients

Other job titles within and related to the taxation field include:

• Income Tax Auditor
• Federal Tax Business Analyst
• Investment Tax Consultant
• Risk and Financial Advisor
• Corporate Finance Specialist
• Audit and Assurance Associate
• Multistate Tax Manager

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a variety of taxation roles for professionals, paraprofessionals, and administrative workers. They include:

Accountant
Auditor
• Industry Specialist
• Tax Compliance Officer
• Internal Revenue Officer
• Criminal Investigator
• Appeals Officer
• Contact Representative
• Tax Examiner

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