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Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu2Ecmmt5K4.
Quick Facts: Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents
2021 Median Pay $56,780 per year
$27.30 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 56,900
Job Outlook, 2020-30 -4% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2020-30 -2,100

What Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents Do

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.

Work Environment

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work for federal, state, and local governments. Many work primarily in an office setting; others spend most of their time doing field audits in taxpayers’ homes or places of business. Most tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work full time.

How to Become a Tax Examiner or Collector, or Revenue Agent

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. However, the level of education and experience required varies with the position and employer.

Pay

The median annual wage for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents was $56,780 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents is projected to decline 4 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 4,400 openings for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents Do About this section

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents are responsible for ensuring that individuals and businesses pay the taxes they owe.

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents determine how much is owed in taxes and collect tax from individuals and businesses on behalf of federal, state, and local governments. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.

Duties

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents 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 understanding of accounting procedures and knowledge of changes to tax laws and regulations
  • Keep records on each active case including telephone numbers and actions taken
  • Notify taxpayers of overpayment or underpayment and issue a refund or request additional payment

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that individuals and businesses pay the appropriate amount of taxes owed, as prescribed by laws and regulations. In addition to verifying that tax returns are filed correctly, 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's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) deals primarily with business and personal income taxes. State governments collect income and sales taxes. Local governments collect property and sales taxes.

Because some states base income taxes on taxpayers’ 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 typically deal with simple tax returns filed by individual taxpayers who claim few deductions and by small businesses. Tax examiners also may contact individual taxpayers in order to resolve 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, called internal revenue agents in the IRS, specialize in tax-related accounting. Like tax examiners, they review returns for accuracy. However, revenue agents handle the complex tax returns of large businesses and corporations.

Some experienced revenue agents focus exclusively on a particular area, such as multinational business. Regardless of their specialty, revenue agents must keep up to date with changes in tax laws and regulations.

Tax collectors, also called internal 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 tax collector.

When a tax collector takes a case, he or she first sends a notice to the taxpayer. The tax 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. Tax collectors research information on taxpayer financial statements or mortgages and locate taxpayer-owned items of value through third parties, such as local departments of motor vehicles. Ultimately, they must decide whether the IRS should place a lien—a claim on an asset such as a bank account, real estate, or an automobile—to settle a debt. Tax collectors also have the authority to garnish wages—that is, take a portion of earned wages—to collect taxes owed.

Work Environment About this section

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work for federal, state, and local governments.

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents held about 56,900 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents were as follows:

Federal government 44%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 38
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 18

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work primarily in an office setting; others spend most of their time conducting field audits in taxpayers’ homes or places of business.

Work Schedules

Most tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work full time.

How to Become a Tax Examiner or Collector, or Revenue Agent About this section

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents
Most tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents typically 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.

Education

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents typically need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, such as business. For some jobs, work experience may substitute for a degree.

Candidates for tax examiner and collector positions at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may qualify with a bachelor’s degree in any field of study or with specialized experience, or with a combination of education and experience. Internal revenue agents at the IRS generally need a bachelor’s degree in accounting; a combination of education and experience equivalent to a major in accounting; or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate.

Training

Newly hired tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents typically receive on-the-job training that lasts between 1 month and 1 year. These workers also must keep current with changes to the tax code and in enforcement and collection procedures.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some employers accept work experience as a substitute for education. For example, employers may hire tax examiners and revenue agents who have experience as accountants or bookkeepers, or they may hire tax collectors who have experience working as bill and account collectors, customer service representatives, or credit checkers.

Advancement

Tax examiners who review individual tax returns may advance to revenue agent positions, working on more complex business returns.

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents who demonstrate leadership skills and a thorough knowledge of tax collection activities may advance to supervisory or managerial positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Tax examiners and revenue agents must be able to identify questionable claims for credits and deductions and determine if claims are lawful.

Communication skills. Tax collectors must be able to clearly explain complex details, especially about sensitive information, in their work with the public.

Detail oriented. Tax examiners and revenue agents verify the accuracy of each entry on the tax returns they review. Therefore, it is important that they pay attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Tax collectors must be comfortable interacting with people. When pursuing overdue accounts, tax collectors should be firm and composed.

Math skills. Tax collectors and revenue agents deal with numbers daily and must be comfortable with arithmetic. They also need to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures.

Organizational skills. Tax examiners and revenue agents may work with multiple returns and a variety of financial documents. Keeping the various pieces of information organized is essential.

Pay About this section

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Median annual wages, May 2021

Financial specialists

$77,300

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

$56,780

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents was $56,780 in May 2021. 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 $35,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,840.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government $58,760
State government, excluding education and hospitals 58,670
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 47,740

Most tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Total, all occupations

8%

Financial specialists

5%

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

-4%

 

Employment of tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents is projected to decline 4 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Despite declining employment, about 4,400 openings for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

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.

Employment projections data for tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

13-2081 56,900 54,800 -4 -2,100 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Accountants and auditors Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records.

Bachelor's degree $77,250
Budget analysts Budget Analysts

Budget analysts help public and private organizations plan their finances.

Bachelor's degree $79,940
Cost estimators Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to assess the time, money, materials, and labor required to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $65,170
Financial analysts Financial Analysts

Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals in decisions about expending money to attain profit.

Bachelor's degree $81,410
Financial managers Financial Managers

Financial managers create financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Bachelor's degree $131,710
Loan officers Loan Officers

Loan officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications.

Bachelor's degree $63,380
Personal financial advisors Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their money and plan for their financial future.

Bachelor's degree $94,170
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations and check financial records for accuracy.

Some college, no degree $45,560
Financial examiners Financial Examiners

Financial examiners ensure compliance with laws that govern institutions handling monetary transactions.

Bachelor's degree $81,410
Human resource specialists Human Resources Specialists

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, and interview job applicants and place newly hired workers in jobs. They also may handle compensation and benefits, training, and employee relations.

Bachelor's degree $62,290

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about careers with your state or local government, contact the appropriate office of taxation.

For more information about careers at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), visit

IRS Careers

For more information about Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requirements for the federal accounting and budget occupational series, which includes tax-related occupations, visit

U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

O*NET

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/tax-examiners-and-collectors-and-revenue-agents.htm (visited July 03, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Monday, April 18, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.