Choosing to pursue a tax-law career path doesn’t mean there’s just one direction you can take. The positions you can occupy strictly depend on your interests and qualifications.
First, it’s important to distinguish between the two major tax-law fields: consultancy and compliance.
The first one tackles tax issues and finds solutions for them. The second one involves the correct filing of tax-related paperwork. For instance, one of the primary tasks for those with consultancy tax lawyer jobs is to make sure your client pays as little as possible.
Of course, we don’t mean going to illegal lengths to achieve this. As a tax-law specialist, you are supposed to be familiar with tax structures and - more importantly in this case - all existing loopholes in tax legislation. Thus, your job is to efficiently organize your client’s tax obligations with as many deductions as possible, thus saving them money.
On the other hand, compliance tasks primarily pertain to completing client tax returns and ensuring they stay in line with the regulations. Besides that, you would liaise with the tax authorities to resolve any issues involving your clients.
According to some definitions from Lexis Nexis, the leading provider of legal regulatory information and analytics, there are several tax attorney positions based on the duties they perform. We’ll make a brief overview of each.
General Tax Attorney
People often confuse this position with tax law occupations in general. However, the principal assignments in this role involve handling partnership, corporate, and income-tax-related matters. They deal with various fields of tax law and serve as consultants on legal subjects.
In most cases, general tax attorneys collaborate closely with the in-house counsel of their client’s company and handle anything tax-related. In some sense, they act as corporate tax lawyers.
Another of the tax law careers is that of the estate planner. In this role, your focus will be on estate and gift taxes, as outlined by the IRC (Internal Revenue Code).
Typically, estate planners work as consultants to individual clients or even families. For example, people who decide to start a trust fund need an estate planner to handle the administrative parts of running one.
Other responsibilities undertaken by estate planners are helping clients avoid probate or advise them on how to minimize estate taxes.
“ERISA” stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. According to the US Department of Labor, this federal law sets up the minimum criteria for voluntary health and retirement plans in the private sector.
This is one of the more specialized jobs in tax law, and you would work with private companies to aid their employees in exercising their rights. “ERISA” lawyers help develop appropriate labor-related strategies for dealing with pensions and benefits.
Tax Law Work Environment
As most lawyers do, tax lawyers work in an office. The office could be part of a larger law firm, a corporation, or a private practice. In any case, jobs in tax law are nine-to-five occupations in a formal environment. Depending on your workload, you might be expected or forced to work longer hours or even stay over the weekend.
With international-tax law-firm jobs, you can look forward to some traveling, but not too often. A tax lawyer position is an office-bound one, for the most part. And with law offices come dress codes, so you will have to wear professional-looking clothes, like suits, or at least shirts and slacks or skirts.
Most tax attorney jobs officially entail a 40-hour workweek. However, people in these positions often have to work up to 60 hours, depending on the severity and urgency of a particular case.
Also, the younger and less experienced you are, the harder you are expected to work. You’ll be burning the midnight oil a lot in your first years until you reach a certain level of experience and knowledge.
On top of that, regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry, January will be the most challenging month of the year. Taxes are due in January, so you’ll have to prepare all necessary information and paperwork for the tax returns you’re handling in a timely manner.
Tax Law Career Path
If you ever wondered what the skills, education, and other requirements to start a career in tax law are, read the following lines. They will help you take all the right steps to eventually land a job in this branch of the law.
Despite it often being portrayed as less dynamic compared to other legal jobs, the role of a tax attorney offers plenty of opportunities to turn itself into a rewarding career. For instance, the fact that it comes with significantly less stress than lawyer positions with more courtroom time is a significant benefit.