taxes

Tax-driven job prospects

Friday Feb. 5, 2010
Posted 11 a.m. EDT

Everybody complains about the income tax, but let's face it, paying taxes because you made money is better than the alternative.

So I was intrigued by an item in a tax newsletter I get that says job prospects are especially bright for certified public accountants, or CPAs.

Yes, it's a newsletter for accountants, but CPA Trendlines wasn't just cheerleading. It was quoting the latest Occupational Outlook Handbook produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor.

Labor Department analysts say that job growth for accountants and auditors should be around 22 percent through 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. And the employment prospects are even better for CPAs, according to the government.

There are many reasons for what Uncle Sam characterizes as "a very large number of new jobs" in the accounting industry. Given the creative bookkeeping of some firms over the last few years, there's a renewed call for transparency and controls in financial reporting.

Also, as the economy recovers, the number of businesses should increase. That means more accountants and auditors will be needed to set up books, provide management advice and, of course, prepare taxes.

Ah, yes, taxes.

The only thing growing more than the number of accountant positions is the tax code. Congress just can't seem to keep its hands off the thing. Take the homeowner credit. This one tax break was changed three times in just 18 months. And that was just one of the new tax laws in 2009.

Each year, the tax software and publishing company CCH produces the Standard Federal Tax Reporter to help decipher tax law changes.

It took 400 pages to explain the original 1913 income tax laws. This year, detailing the current laws, regulations and associated court cases take up 71,684 pages.

Want to guess how many pages it'll take in 2011?

And how many new accountants will be needed to help us comply with them?

Help finding tax help: If you need professional help now to get your taxes done, Bankrate describes your tax preparer choices.

The IRS is developing tax preparer regulations, but until those are in place, be sure to thoroughly check out your tax pro.

Free tax help is available in many forms, either directly from the IRS or via community groups supported by the agency.

You also might want to check into Free File, the IRS's online no-cost tax preparation and filing site for eligible taxpayers.

Read more tax blogs.

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