If you are aiming for top-level executive positions within the evolving and exciting accounting field, then you may be the perfect fit to become a director of taxation. Tax directors are key company leaders who are responsible for the direct management of the full breadth of tax functions at an organization. Tax directors are often involved in managing a company’s taxes, conducting research on tax laws, determining the budget, offering tax advice to other executives for sound financial decisions, collaborating with business partners, and ensuring the timely preparation of all tax returns. Since the director of taxation must have significant training to fully understand the tax laws that impact business, the following is a step-by-step guide to building the qualifications needed for becoming the head of tax.

Earn a Master’s Degree in Taxation or Accounting

After completing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited post-secondary institution, it is likely that you will need to further your studies by completing a master’s degree with a specialization in taxation or accounting. Many universities offer a Master in Taxation (MTax) degree to specifically prepare graduate students for filing tax returns, working with revenue authorities, and advising employers on smart tax decisions. If your chosen school does not offer an MTax degree option, earning a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program will also be valuable in acquiring broad-based accounting knowledge that can be applied to advanced tax practice. Regardless of which degree you decide on, it is recommended you fill up your schedule with courses in income taxation, tax law, tax planning, corporate taxation, estate planning, and international taxes.

Apply to Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Once you have completed a master’s degree to fulfill the 150-hour requirement mandated in the majority of states nationwide, the next step to become a director of taxation is to become licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In order to earn the highly respected CPA credential, you will need to receive a passing score on the certification exam issued by your state’s board of accountancy. With a total of 14 hours of testing, the CPA exam is divided into four major sections in Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). You should take CPA sample tests to better understand the multiple-choice questions and case studies on exam day, according to the American Institute of CPAs.

Acquire Years of Work Experience in Taxation

Although employers at smaller companies may only require four years of experience, most will require tax directors to acquire at least ten or more years of work experience related to taxation at the corporate level to be considered for the leadership role. In most cases, employers will want new tax directors to have a minimum of two years in a supervisory tax role to ensure you have the skills to lead others. The career path typically involves starting work as a staff accountant, eventually specializing in tax accounting, working up the ladder to tax manager, and then being named the director of taxation.

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Overall, tax directors are highly experienced accounting professionals with a solid knowledge of current tax laws who are responsible for helping executives in the boardroom to make the best investments and budgeting decisions based on the company’s tax returns. When you follow these steps to become a director of taxation, you will develop the business acumen, interpersonal effectiveness, organizational skills, problem solving abilities, and strong technical competence needed to succeed in this respectable role.