How to Become a
Tax Attorney

Businessman showing a document to a couple

Are you interested in a career as a Tax Attorney? You came to the right place. This guide is packed with information and resources for becoming a Tax Attorney. Learn about educational requirements for the job, what the position pays and more.

What Does a Tax Attorney Do?

A Tax Attorney helps with your income taxes. She offers you guidance while preparing your taxes, and can save you thousands of dollars as well as a lot of stress you may feel by dealing with the IRS.

IRS tax matters are highly sensitive, and incorrect deductions can cost you money and time. Thus, a tax attorney understands all the deductions that you can take, which is important since most individuals don’t know whether they can itemize a deduction. A Tax Attorney can help you make the most important decisions in your taxes. He or she can help you with an audit notice from the IRS, or when the IRS is pursuing a claim against you.

In addition, a Tax Attorney can help you navigate complex tax laws, documenting business entities and advising clients on estate, tax, and financial planning.  The lawyer helps clients navigate the highly technical statutes which make up our tax laws.

If the IRS notifies you of an audit, for example, you should immediately hire a tax lawyer. The most important thing a Tax Attorney can do for you is to protect you from the IRS. He or she can communicate with the IRS on your behalf in order to receive a settlement, and be present and on your side during your audit.

Once you connect with a lawyer of your choice, you should be rest assured as he or she has probably had to deal with the IRS during many occasions. The tax lawyer can know how exactly the IRS may have misunderstood the facts in your case, and he or she can work on your behalf by explaining the facts and information of your case to the IRS.

Tax attorneys also work for businesses and corporations in order to restructure debt. In addition, tax attorneys 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. If the organization contemplates a merger or reorganization, tax attorneys advise on the consequences of each alternative.

Tax Attorneys often work in private practice. Some work as solo practitioners if they have enough clients to take on, others in small or boutique law firms or large firms where they work alongside several lawyers.

Being a Tax Attorney requires:

  • Knowing when and how to file an appeal of a tax court decision.

  • Being able to communicate effectively with IRS officials

  • Helping clients or businesses save money

  • Helping clients or businesses taking advantage of tax credits.

Tax Attorney Skills

The tax lawyer must know how to interact with others using everyday language in order to explain complicated tax codes and laws. The ability to simplify tax laws and relating rules are often very complex. The right lawyer will simplify complex issues into understandable formats. 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. Tax lawyers also must have excellent writing skills, as the field requires a great deal of writing. If someone doesn’t like to write, he or she may not be in the right profession.

Tax lawyer clients don’t need to know technical possibilities but they want to know that you are thinking in different ways than other attorneys they have talked with.

Other key Tax Attorney skills include:

  • The ability to do legal and factual research skills

  • Proficiency in math

  • The patience to learn and relearn tax laws as it constantly changes.

  • Ability to excel interpersonal skills as the position requires heavy interaction with businesses and individual clients to inspire confidence in you.

How Do You Become a Tax Attorney?

Education and Training

Becoming a tax attorney requires graduation from a college or university and being able to complete three years of law school.

The tax attorney’s career begins by earning a Bachelor's Degree with a background in business or accounting. You cannot apply to law school without that degree.

To prepare for law school, which is required to become a tax attorney, you should take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized exam that tests reading comprehension and logical and analytical reasoning. With the LSAT in hand, you then can apply to law school. The school must be accredited by the American Bar Association. Tuition, location, student body size and the overall quality of the school are factors to consider when selecting a law school.

To prepare yourself in your career before graduating from law school, it’s advised that you gain hands-on experience in tax laws by completing a summer or semester internship with a law firm that specializes in taxation.

After graduating from law school, where you will have had earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, you must pass a state bar examination. You cannot work as a lawyer without having passed this test. Once you do so, you are legally allowed to work in the taxation law field.

Finding a Job

Demand for Tax Attorneys is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 6 percent growth for the position through 2024.

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 ten areas that you can focus on:

  • Corporate tax

  • International tax laws

  • Financial services

  • Estate planning

  • Taxation for international dealings

  • Business taxation

  • Federal taxation

  • Estate and gift tax

  • Successions

Any successful job search begins with crafting a high-quality resume that highlights your skills and experience. For guidance on creating a resume, take a look at JobHero’s library of Tax Attorney resume samples.

Once your resume is complete, search online for job opportunities.  As you look for Tax Attorney openings, be sure to make the most of your professional network, including people you met while 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 sample for help.

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.

    District of Columbia

    $174,480

    New York

    $155,050

    Delaware

    $152,330

    Florida

    $128,050

    Illinois

    $125,920

    Tax Attorney Resources

    We put together this list of additional resources to help you continue exploring a career as a tax lawyer.

    Professional Groups

    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.

    TaxProf Blog
    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

    Tax Stories
    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.