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Jobs Outlook: Tax Examiners, Collectors & Revenue Agents




Employment of tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents is projected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations during the 2004-14 projection period. Because of the relatively small number of openings, jobseekers can expect to face competition.

Demand for tax examiners, revenue agents, and tax collectors will stem from changes in government policy toward tax enforcement and from growth in the number of businesses. The Federal Government is expected to increase its tax enforcement efforts. Also, new technology and information sharing among tax agencies make it easier for agencies to pinpoint potential offenders, increasing the number of cases for audit and collection. These two factors should increase the demand for revenue agents and tax collectors. The IRS plans to streamline its tax examination and collections process, and both State and Federal tax agencies are turning their enforcement focus to higher income taxpayers and businesses, which file more complicated tax returns. Because of these shifts, workers with knowledge of tax laws and experience working with complex tax issues will have the best opportunities.

Several factors may limit the growth of these occupations. Because much of the simpler work done by tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents is now computerized, productivity has increased, limiting the need for more workers. The work of tax examiners is especially well suited to automation, adversely affecting demand for these workers in particular. In addition, more than 40 States and many local tax agencies contract out their tax collection functions to private-sector collection agencies in order to reduce costs, and this trend is likely to continue. In 2005, the IRS received Congressional approval to begin outsourcing tax collection. IRS outsourcing will dampen growth in employment of revenue officers but is not expected to affect employment of revenue agents.

Employment at the State and local levels may fluctuate with the overall state of the economy. When the economy is contracting, State and local governments are likely to freeze hiring and lay off workers in response to budgetary constraints. Opportunities at the Federal level will reflect the tightening or relaxation of budget constraints imposed on the IRS, the primary employer of these workers.