As an aspiring accountant, you may be considering a variety of career paths within the field, including work with the federal government. About eight percent of all accountants work for the government, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). One of the major government employers of accounting and auditing professionals is the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.
Employment with the IRS
The IRS employs close to 95,000 people, according to The Wall Street Journal. Not all IRS workers are accountants. There are positions in management, administration, human resources, law enforcement and information technology (IT). The bureau even has thousands of employees in identity theft and fraud prevention, dedicated to protecting taxpayers. However, professionals in the field of accounting, budget and finance are essential for processing the hundreds of millions of individual income tax returns, corporate tax returns, estate tax returns, gift tax returns and other types of tax returns the IRS handles each year.
Accounting Roles with the IRS
There are a variety of jobs for business and accounting professionals with the IRS, from entry-level positions for recent graduates to senior roles for experienced workers. Some of these roles include extensive contact with taxpayers and accounting professionals outside the bureau, while others fulfill more internal functions. In every IRS role, accountants can put their technical accounting skills to work in tasks like determining how much a taxpayer owes, assisting with questions, processing returns, and handling appeals. Some of the roles accounting, business and finance professionals take on at the IRS include:
- Internal Revenue Agents find out how much an individual, small business, large business charitable organization or other type of taxpayer owes in taxes, according to the IRS.
- Tax Compliance Officers investigate taxpayers’ finances and assist with technical accounting problems and general customer service concerns.
- Appeals Officers mediate appealed tax cases to settle problems between taxpayers and the IRS.
- Contact Representatives connect with taxpayers in person or over the phone helping solve tax problems like delinquent payments through methods such as working out installment payment arrangements.
- Tax Examiners answer taxpayers’ questions, audit tax returns for accuracy, prepare returns for computer processing, assist with electronic filing and communicate with taxpayers via phone or mail to resolve tax problems.
There are also roles for accounting professionals in other branches of the IRS. For example, forensic accountants may find work in the bureau’s criminal investigation, or law enforcement, branch as a Criminal Investigation Special Agent. These agents investigate money trails to find proof of crimes, the IRS reported.
The IRS is among the largest single employers of accounting professionals, according to the bureau’s website. Opportunities for accountants range from tax specialists and examiners to appeals officers and roles in forensic accounting. Accounting professionals employed by the IRS not only find the job of serving their country through their work satisfying, but they also enjoy benefits such as health insurance, a retirement fund and the opportunity to advance their careers through continuing education.