Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents determine how much is owed in taxes and collect tax from individuals and businesses on behalf of the government.
What they do
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.
They typically do the following:
- Review filed tax returns to determine whether credits and deductions claimed are allowed by law
- Contact taxpayers to address problems and to request supporting documentation
- Conduct field audits and investigations of income tax returns to verify information or to update tax liabilities
- Evaluate financial information, using their familiarity with accounting procedures and knowledge of changes to tax laws and regulations
- Keep records on each case they deal with, including contacts, telephone numbers, and actions taken
- Notify taxpayers of any overpayment or underpayment and either issue a refund or request additional payment
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents are responsible for ensuring that individuals and businesses pay the appropriate amount of taxes they owe, as prescribed by laws and regulations. In addition to verifying that tax returns are filed properly, they follow up with taxpayers whose returns are questionable or who owe more money.
Different levels of government collect different types of taxes. The federal government deals primarily with personal and business income taxes. State governments collect income and sales taxes. Local governments collect sales and property taxes.
Because many states assess individual income taxes on the basis of the taxpayer’s reported federal income, tax examiners working for the federal government report to the states any adjustments or corrections they make. State tax examiners then determine whether the adjustments affect the state taxpayer liability.
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents have different duties and responsibilities:
Tax examiners usually deal with the simplest tax returns: those filed by individual taxpayers who claim few deductions and those filed by small businesses. Tax examiners also may contact individual taxpayers in order to resolve any outstanding problems with their returns.
Much of a tax examiner’s job involves making sure that tax credits and deductions claimed by taxpayers are lawful. If a taxpayer owes additional taxes, tax examiners adjust the total amount by assessing fees, interest, and penalties and then notify the taxpayer of the total amount owed.
Revenue agents specialize in tax-related accounting for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for equivalent agencies in state and local governments. Like tax examiners, they review returns for accuracy. However, revenue agents handle complicated tax returns of large businesses and corporations.
Many experienced revenue agents specialize in a particular area. For example, they may focus exclusively on multinational businesses. Regardless of their specialty, revenue agents must keep up to date with changes in the lengthy and complex tax laws and regulations.
Collectors, also called revenue officers in the IRS, deal with overdue accounts. The process of collecting an overdue payment starts with the revenue agent or tax examiner sending a report to the taxpayer. If the taxpayer makes no effort to pay, the case is assigned to a collector.
When a collector takes a case, he or she first sends a notice to the taxpayer. The collector then works with the taxpayer to settle the debt. Settlement may involve setting up a plan in which the amount owed is paid back in small amounts over time.
When delinquent taxpayers claim that they cannot pay their taxes, collectors investigate and verify the claims. Collectors research information on taxpayer mortgages or financial statements and locate taxpayer-owned items of value through third parties, such as neighbors or local departments of motor vehicles. Ultimately, collectors must decide whether the IRS should take a lien—a claim on an asset such as a bank account, real estate, or an automobile—to settle a debt. Collectors also have the authority to garnish wages—that is, take a portion of earned wages—to collect taxes owed.
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work primarily in an office environment; others spend most of their time conducting field audits in taxpayers’ homes or places of business.
How to become a Tax Examiner and Collector, and/or Revenue Agent
Most tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. However, the required level of education and experience varies with the position and employer.
Tax examiners need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, or a combination of relevant education and specialized experience in accounting, auditing, or tax compliance work. Candidates for tax examiner positions at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must have a bachelor’s degree or 1 year of full-time specialized experience.
Revenue agents need a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business administration, economics, or a related discipline. A combination of relevant education and full-time experience in business administration, accounting, or auditing is also qualifying. Revenue agents with the IRS must have either a bachelor’s degree or 30 semester hours of accounting coursework, along with specialized experience. Specialized experience includes work in accounting, bookkeeping, or tax analysis.
Collectors usually must have some combination of relevant college education and specialized experience. Specialized experience may include previous work as a loan officer or credit manager, or a background in collections, management, customer service, or tax compliance. A bachelor’s degree is needed for employment as a collector with the IRS; no additional experience is required, and experience may not be substituted for the degree. Employers desire degrees in business, finance, accounting, and criminal justice.
Although a bachelor’s degree is not always required at the state and local levels, related work experience is desired.
Newly hired tax examiners get some formal training, which typically lasts between 1 month and 1 year. All tax examiners must keep current with changes in the tax code and in enforcement procedures.
Entry-level collectors get both formal training and on-the-job training under an instructor’s guidance before working independently. Collectors also are encouraged to continue their professional education by attending meetings to exchange information about how modifications to tax laws affect collection methods.
The median annual wage for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents was $54,890 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,090, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $101,780.
Employment of tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. Employment of these workers will depend primarily on future changes to federal, state, and local government budgets. Budget reductions in recent years have resulted in decreased hiring for the agencies that employ these workers.
Similar Job Titles
City Tax Auditor, Revenue Agent, Revenue Collector, Revenue Officer, Revenue Specialist, Tax Collector, Tax Compliance Officer, Tax Examiner
Loan Officer, Brokerage Clerk, Eligibility Interviewer-Government Programs, Loan Interviewers and Clerks, Human Resources Assistants (except Payroll and Timekeeping)
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Governments provide services and infrastructure such as schools and roads… how is it all paid for? Taxes provide income to pay government costs, and tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents ensure that governments receive tax money that is owed by businesses and citizens. Tax examiners deal with simple tax returns filed by small businesses and individual taxpayers. They review returns and enter them into a computer system for processing, ensuring that credits and deductions are lawful. They also may contact individual taxpayers to resolve issues. Collectors deal with overdue accounts. If a taxpayer makes no effort to pay, the case is assigned to a collector to settle the debt, whether by setting up a payment plan, claiming assets, or taking a portion of earned wages to collect taxes owed. Revenue agents specialize in tax-related accounting for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and for state and local governments. Like tax examiners, they review returns. However, revenue agents handle complicated tax returns from large businesses and corporations Most tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents work full time, in an office environment; some conduct field audits in taxpayers’ homes or places of business. Generally, a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is required to enter these fields, although education and experience requirements vary by position and employer.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org