If you have an affinity for finances and an interest in tax law, consider becoming a tax attorney. This helpful how-to guide covers the education requirements and career path you can take to become a skilled tax professional.
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What Does a Tax Attorney Do?
A tax attorney helps with your income taxes. They offer guidance while preparing taxes and can save clients thousands of dollars and a lot of stress from dealing with the IRS.
Tax attorneys often work in private practice. Some attorneys work as solo practitioners; others work in small or boutique law firms or large firms where they work alongside several lawyers.
Assist clients with complicated tax deductions and minimize or eliminate filing errors, saving clients costly IRS audits.
Help clients identify and claim accurate itemized deductions.
Assist clients with IRS audits or claims.
Act as a communication liaison between clients and the IRS.
Help clients identify errors in an IRS audit and negotiate a settlement claim.
Help clients navigate complex tax laws, document business entities and advise clients on estate, tax and financial planning.
Work for businesses and corporations to restructure debt.
Assist businesses with issues involving the distribution of profits, treatment of capital gains and losses, write-offs of non-performing assets, and establishment of retirement and other benefit plans.
Assist organizations with mergers, reorganizations or finding taxation alternatives.
Know when and how to appeal a tax court decision.
Communicate effectively with IRS officials.
Help clients or businesses save money.
Help clients or businesses identify and claim tax credits.
How Do You Become a Tax Attorney?
Demand for tax attorneys is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 10% growth through 2031 for lawyers, with as many as 48,700 job openings yearly.
Given this projected growth, aspiring tax attorneys are likely to find many job opportunities in the business sector of a corporation, at a boutique law firm or in private practice. For specialization, here are 10 areas to focus on:
Step 1: Get a bachelor’s degree.
The tax attorney’s career begins with a bachelor's degree, as you can’t apply to law school without it. Although you need no specific degree, we strongly recommend completing an undergraduate degree in.
Step 2: Prepare and take the LSAT.
To prepare for law school, which is required to become a tax attorney, you should take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This standardized exam tests reading comprehension and logical and analytical reasoning. As you study and prepare for this exam, double-check the minimum application requirements from your desired law schools to ensure you meet their test requirements.
Step 3: Attend law school.
With a qualifying LSAT score, you can apply to law school. The American Bar Association must accredit the school and program. Tuition, location, student body size and the school's overall quality are factors to consider when selecting a law school. We also recommend expanding your search to include graduate schools with certified degrees in taxation.
Step 4: Earn qualifying experience during school.
While you study, take advantage of the various onsite organizations, legal clinics, internships and volunteer opportunities. This hands-on experience can help boost your resume and improve your rating with hiring managers.
Step 5: Narrow your focus to tax-related subjects.
Most tax attorneys find ample career opportunities within a business with specialized interests. You can choose to focus on one or more of the following subspecialties:
- Corporate tax
- International tax laws
- Financial services
- Estate planning
- Taxation for international deals
- Business taxation
- Federal taxation
- Estate and gift tax
- Succession taxation
Step 6: Study for your state’s bar exam.
After graduating from law school and earning a doctorate degree, you must pass a state bar examination. Once you do so, you can legally work as a lawyer in the taxation field.
Step 7: Apply for entry-level tax attorney jobs.
Any successful job search begins with crafting a high-quality resume highlighting your skills and experience. Look at JobHero’s library of tax attorney resume samples for guidance on creating a resume.
Once your resume is complete, search online for job opportunities. As you look for openings, make the most of your professional network, including people you met in college, law school, or during internships or jobs early on in your career.
When applying for jobs, write a cover letter that expresses your interest in the position and highlights your qualifications and what you would bring to the role. Take a look at our lawyer cover letter samples for guidance.
Tax Attorney Skills
The tax lawyer must know how to interact with others using everyday language to explain complicated tax codes and laws. An inefficient tax lawyer will try to impress his clients by talking over their heads or getting into nuances that clients don’t need to understand.
The following skills may help you establish a loyal client base and increase your legal tax reputation.
Insights from a Tax Attorney
In order to get an inside look at how to become a Tax Attorney. we talked to Stephan Brown of NewPoint Law Group. Here’s what he had to tell us.
What is the common career path for a tax attorney?
I am not sure that tax attorneys all have the same career path. For me, I started out as a tax preparer, went to law school, and took the logical step into practicing tax law since I already had a background in tax. Some attorneys unexpectedly end up practicing tax law because of a case they may have worked on in some other area of law that had some sort of tax aspect to it.
What should someone consider before becoming a tax attorney?
I think it is important for someone becoming any type of attorney to have a desire to help people. Another key consideration for a prospective tax attorney is knowing whether reading the tax code and trying to make sense of it is something he or she has an interest in doing.. Personally, I find it both challenging and rewarding.
What type of person excels in this job?
It can be very stressful to be responsible for large financial decisions and transactions that can result in serious consequences if any small detail is overlooked. It is important to be extremely detail-oriented, but also have a calm enough demeanor to stay focused in stressful situations.
What are some of the most important skills – hard and soft – for tax attorneys to have?
Many attorneys are not good with numbers, but a tax attorney should be able to understand many aspects of basic math, and be able to read and understand financial statements and tax returns. A good tax attorney should also be able to write well and be creative.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a tax attorney?
I find it highly rewarding when I help a client achieve their ultimate goal. This is especially true for lower income clients that have less at stake in the grand scheme of things, but perhaps the result has a much larger impact on their lives.
How Much Do Tax Attorneys Get Paid?
Tax attorneys are typically paid on a yearly basis, with the median hourly wage in the United States being $115.800, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest-paid Tax Lawyer makes about $55,900 a year, while the highest-paid can earn around $187,000.
Top 5 States for Tax Attorney Salary
While we’re giving you information about what a general lawyer makes, these figures can also be applied to tax lawyers. Lawyers in the following states make the highest yearly wages in the U.S.
Tax Attorney Resources
We put together this list of additional resources to help you continue exploring a career as a tax lawyer.
National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP)
Provides support, education, products and services that tax lawyers need to succeed in the tax profession.
National Society of Tax Professionals (NSTP)
Helps its members attain the greatest expertise, proficiency, and competency in all areas of the tax profession.
American Bar Association (ABA)
Provide benefits, programs and services which promote members’ professional growth and quality of life.
Tax Lawyer Blogs
Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ)
CTJ’s mission is to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws.
Helps out tax lawyers and gives them daily news on tax-related issues.
Tax Policy Center
TPC provides timely, accessible analysis and facts about tax policy to policymakers, journalists, citizens, and researchers.
Tax Lawyer Books
Explores the historical contexts of seminal U.S. Supreme court federal income tax cases and the role they continue to play in our current tax law.
Federal Income Taxation: A Contemporary Approach
The book uses several modern platforms to introduce students to the federal income taxation of individuals.
Fundamentals of Corporate Taxation
In its 9th printing, this widely used casebook teaches the “fundamentals” of a highly complex subject using everyday engaging language.