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Earnings Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings of all tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents were $43,490 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $32,520 and $62,570. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $25,120, and the top 10 percent earned more than $81,240. However, median earnings vary considerably, depending on the level of government and by occupational specialty.

Facts at a glance

  • Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents work at all levels of government.
  • A bachelor’s degree is required for work at the Federal level; in State and local government, less formal education or work experience may be sufficient.
  • Employment is expected to grow more slowly than average.
  • Because there are few openings, jobseekers can expect to face competition; workers with knowledge of tax laws and experience with complex tax issues will have the best chances.

Summary of what this career entails

Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents work generally work a 40-hour work week, although some overtime might be needed during the tax season. State and local tax examiners, who may review sales, gasoline, and cigarette taxes instead of handling tax returns, may have a steadier workload year-round. Stress can result from the need to work under a deadline in checking returns and evaluating taxpayer claims, and travel is sometimes necessary. Collectors also must face the unpleasant task of confronting delinquent taxpayers.

Examples and or details of work

Tax examiners review filed tax returns for accuracy and determine whether tax credits and deductions are allowed by law. At the entry level, many tax examiners perform clerical duties, such as reviewing tax returns and entering them into a computer system for processing. Revenue agents specialize in tax-related accounting work for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for equivalent State and local agencies. Revenue agents handle complicated income, sales, and excise tax returns of businesses and large corporations. Collectors deal with delinquent accounts, working with the taxpayer on how to settle the debt. For each case file, collectors must maintain records, including contact information and actions taken. The IRS website lists tax examiner, revenue agent and revenue officer (collector) as three of their 13 “Hottest Jobs”.

Degrees that lead to this career

A degree in accounting is becoming the standard source of training for tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents. Some of the degrees and certification an individual can attain include:

  • A.S. in Accounting
  • B.S. in Accounting
  • B.S. in Finance
  • B.S. in Business

Specific Career openings in this field

Some of the positions available for individuals that want a career in taxation include tax examiner, revenue agent, collector, accountant, auditor, tax preparers, appraisers and assessors of real estate.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Tax Examiners, Collectors, and Revenue Agents, on the Internet at

Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Careers at IRS: Our Hottest Jobs on the Internet at