what is a tax accountant?

Tax accountants work closely with businesses and individuals to help them prepare their taxes. Instead of clients visiting you once during tax season, they build long-term relationships with you as they trust you to manage part of their finances. Your annual tax plans help them track their finances and secure the biggest refund when you file on their behalf.

Tax accountants stay on top of province and federal tax laws, watching the news for recent changes. Your clients count on you to accurately file their taxes without audits or corrections. However, if your client engages in questionable behavior, you may work with the CRA during an audit.

With your expertise, your clients receive the biggest deductions. You'll itemize their deductions if they have varied expenses and the standard deduction isn't enough. You'll also provide advice throughout the year that reduces their tax burden while staying in line with the laws. For people who pay quarterly, you'll remind them about the dates so that they don't have a huge bill at the end of the year.

You'll warn your client about potential tax liabilities and advise them against potentially costly mistakes. While your services come with a fee, customers ultimately save money when they hire you.

Would working as a tax accountant suit your math skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a tax accountant role.

tax accountant jobs

average tax accountant salary

The average salary of a tax accountant in Canada can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the size of the company. However, according to recent data, the average salary for a tax accountant in Canada ranges from $50,000 to $80,000 per year with a national average of around $65,000.

Some provinces in Canada are known to have higher salary ranges for tax accountants. These provinces include: 

  • Ontario: Ontario is home to many large corporations and financial institutions, which often require the services of tax accountants. As a result, tax accountants in Ontario tend to have higher salary ranges compared to other provinces. 
  • Alberta: Alberta's strong economy, particularly in the oil and gas industry, can lead to higher salaries for tax accountants. The province offers competitive compensation packages to attract and retain skilled professionals. 
  • British Columbia: British Columbia has a thriving business sector, including technology, film, and tourism industries. Tax accountants in this province can benefit from higher salaries due to the demand for their expertise. It's important to note that salary ranges can vary within each province based on factors such as the size of the company, industry, and individual qualifications.
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types of tax accountant

Tax accountants can opt to specialize in specific areas of tax accounting:

  • advisory services: tax advisors assist clients in legally minimizing their tax liability by having a deep understanding of federal, state, and local tax laws. They analyze financial decisions and provide guidance on managing assets to achieve favorable tax outcomes. Some tax advisory experts obtain professional certifications, such as the certified planner designation. 
  • certified accounting: certain employers prefer to hire tax accountants who hold accounting certifications. These certifications may include the CPA (Certified Public Accountant), certified management accountant, and certified financial forensics designations. 
  • auditing: external auditors, employed by accounting firms or governmental organizations, examine financial records to uncover evidence of tax evasion or financial crimes. Internal auditors, on the other hand, work within businesses to assess financial activities, identify areas for improvement, and ensure accurate financial reporting. 
  • enrolled agent: an Enrolled Agent is a specialized tax accounting expert who is certified to perform various duties for clients. These duties often involve representing clients in dispute resolution negotiations and advocating on their behalf before tax authorities like the CRA.
woman smiling, arms crossed
woman smiling, arms crossed

working as a tax accountant

Tax accountants need specialized degrees and skills to succeed in their job field. Learn how to prepare for becoming a tax accountant.


tax accountant skills and education

Training to be a tax accountant is very similar to other accounting positions:

  • Bachelor’s degree: You'll need a degree in accounting, finance or a related field, as well as CPA or CMA certification. 
  • Master’s degree: This is not mandatory but additional training may be required depending on the type of organization you work for.

skills and competencies

Tax accountants are math experts. You perform quick, accurate calculations to keep your clients' finances in order. If you did well in algebra, calculus, geometry, and other subjects, you'll have the skills to excel in accounting. Similarly, you'll review financial documents and calculate tax credits, deductions, and other items.

Your clients will likely have lots of assets, purchases, investments, and charitable donations. You should know the difference between all the tax forms, and know which documents your client needs. Likewise, you'll fill out each form accurately and submit their taxes on time. Since it's your job to keep their documents organized, you should file ahead of schedule.

Other essential skills include:

  • data analysis
  • problem-solving
  • knowledge of financial concepts
  • attention to detail
  • time management
  • critical thinking

You'll communicate with several people throughout the week. When you write reports and present data, you'll make the information easy to understand. If you're part of a team, you'll effectively collaborate with everyone to get the work done. Tax accountants also answer questions and give advice in a timely, professional manner. You're not just working with numbers — you're helping clients succeed.


FAQs about working as a tax accountant

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about tax accountants.


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