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Audit vs. Tax Accounting: Which Career is Right for You?

November 15, 2016

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Now is a great time to pursue a career in accounting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 11 percent through 2024. This rate is faster than the national average for all occupations. Factors like globalization, overall economic growth, and increasing regulation all stand to contribute to the ongoing need for trained auditors and tax accountants. “Stricter laws and regulations, particularly in the financial sector, will likely increase the demand for accounting services as organizations seek to comply with new standards,” the BLS says. “The continued globalization of business may lead to increased demand for accounting expertise and services.”

Tax vs. Audit Salary Information

Salaries in the accounting field are attractive as well, with the median annual wage for accountants and auditors at $67,190. The top 10 percent of workers can expect to earn $118,930 per year. With strong outlook and salary opportunities, many business-minded individuals are interested in pursuing a career in the accounting field. However, it can be difficult to know which specific career path within accounting is right for you. Understanding audit vs. tax accounting is an ideal place to start.


Auditors are responsible for ensuring that business records are accurate and error-free. There are a few different types of auditors, including internal and external auditors in both the public and private sectors. Auditors can also work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state government agencies. In general, auditors “assess financial operations and ensure organizations run efficiently. Their job is to follow cash flow from beginning to end and ensure an organization’s funds are accounted for properly,” Investopedia says.

Public auditors work for corporations, governments, and individuals, completing tax forms and balance sheet statements for potential investors. Many public auditors are also Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Private auditors, on the other hand, keep track of financial information for an organization and analyze budgets to evaluate the company’s overall performance. They might also “help plan the cost of doing business, and select financial investments for their companies,” according to Investopedia.

If auditors are employed by government, they are likely responsible for:

  • Ensuring revenues are received and spent according to laws and regulations
  • Detecting embezzlement and fraud
  • Analyzing agency accounting controls
  • Evaluating risk management

Internal auditors work with either private businesses or government departments to identify ways to eliminate waste and watch for instances of fraud. They also track revenue and expenditures, and relay findings to stakeholders at the C-level. External auditors are independent contractors who ensure that financial statements accurately represent the health of the company’s finances overall.

Tax Accountant

Tax accountants prepare and submit tax documents for their clients, which can include individuals and both private and public companies. Government agencies and non-profits rely on tax accountants as well. Another primary responsibility of tax accountants is to coordinate audits with taxation authorities and advise corporate management about tax strategies, according to PayScale. This is why it is particularly important for tax accountants to understand tax law and be able to explain it to their clients clearly.

For individual clients, tax accounting “focuses solely on items such as income, qualifying deductions, investment gains or losses, and other transactions that affect the individual’s tax burden,” Investopedia says. However, tax accountants working with businesses or agencies must take additional care to evaluate funds directed toward various business obligations, the same article states.

Other common job responsibilities for tax accountants include the following, according to PayScale:

  • Preparing presentations and reports on tax situations
  • Advising clients regarding how to minimize tax liability
  • Informing clients of changes in tax regulation
  • Providing support during audits

Because of the complex work they do, tax accountants should have a deep understanding of government regulation, tax policy, and core business concepts.

Get Started With King University

No matter which career path you choose, becoming a successful tax accountant or auditor begins with the right education. “Job applicants who have a master’s degree in accounting or a master’s degree in business with a concentration in accounting” may have a competitive advantage when it comes to job opportunities, the BLS reports.

King University offers an online MBA with a specialization in Accounting that can help you make the most of your career. In this program, you will learn advanced business skills related to management, decision-making, communication, and more, along with specialized coursework in accounting. This program can also help you complete some of the 150 hours of coursework required to sit for the CPA exam. Begin or advance your accounting career today with an MBA from King University.