As Ben Franklin famously stated, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Many people find tax issues confusing and complex and prefer to enlist the services of an experienced professional to reduce their tax liability and protect their interests. A tax consultant provides in-depth, strategic advice on tax-related matters for individuals and companies. In addition to preparing tax returns, they offer strategies for reducing taxes and address concerns from the IRS. A bachelor’s degree in a business or tax-related field is typically needed to become a tax consultant, and many opt to obtain professional endorsements such as an Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA) credential from the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation.

Some of the primary job duties for a tax consultant include:

Reviewing and signing off on a return that was prepared online. This helps reassure clients that the return was properly completed and is a component of an audit protection service offered by some tax firms. Providing advice on tax-planning strategies for new and existing businesses, including determining which business structure is best for a company’s specific circumstances, evaluating potential deductions, and helping clients file paperwork with the IRS. Communicating with the IRS on behalf of a client and representing them during an audit, particularly if they are undergoing a significant life change such as divorce or retirement.

Because tax codes are complicated and constantly changing, a tax consultant must stay current on the latest changes to be able to provide their clients with the most comprehensive, accurate advice. They are also expected to have excellent communication skills and an analytical mind. A strong work ethic is important as well, as it is not uncommon for a tax consultant to spend long periods of time at their desk crunching numbers and preparing paperwork.

In addition to the work that takes place in their office, a tax consultant may be called upon by other professionals to assist in particular situations. A lawyer or CPA may be asked to work with a client to determine the proper method for dividing up a property settlement. Similarly, an individual living abroad may need help determining their tax obligations in two countries and filing required forms.

If you are considering hiring a tax consultant, you can start your search by asking for recommendations from friends and colleagues. You can also consult lists of qualified professionals compiled by the National Association of Tax Professionals and other groups. When interviewing potential consultants, pay attention to their communication skills as well as their level of expertise.

Choosing the right tax consultant can save you thousands of dollars in lost deductions and penalties. While it is not necessary to hire a specialist in every area, an experienced tax consultant can help you identify and maximize your deductions, prepare and file your taxes, and help you create an effective plan for minimizing your taxes in the future. If you are a business owner, you should look for one with experience advising small businesses and addressing the unique tax challenges that these firms face. Steuerberater