Audit VS tax Accounting
The age old question for every young accounting student asks, “What Line Of Business Should I Chose In Public Accounting: Audit or Tax?”
For me the answer was simple, and here’s why.
Logic, evidence, reason = Audit
Rules, legislations, research = Tax
Things need to make sense in my brain. I don’t find opinions interesting unless they make sense. Weird answer huh? It honestly had nothing to do with seeing clients more, working in teams, or future career paths.
But there is a lot to consider. This question is HUGELY important in the recruiting process.
The more things you know (where you want to work, when you want to start, audit/tax), the more likely you are to get hired. Firms like someone who knows what they want, has a plan, and is fully prepared.
Don’t be fooled by thinking: “Oh, if I say audit or tax I will increase my chances as they will consider me for twice the positions.” WRONG.
- You tend to work in teams.
- There are a LOT more audit positions than tax. In recent years the audit industry has grown. Internal audit, IT Audit, and new PCAOB regulations have greatly increased the number of positions available.
- With audit you’ll have limitless exit opportunities in various industries and for different types of positions in the accounting world (CFO, Valuation, Controller, IT Audit, Financial Accounting positions, Finance, etc.).
- You see the full picture of the business. In many cases, you are responsible for parts of the tax work as well as the financial statement audit.
- People will ALWAYS ask you, can you do my taxes? You can’t.
- Audit gives you the chance to be yelled at by the client starting day one!
- Being an auditor requires being skeptical and being independent. This can often times be a problem for people who want to “help” the client, or be on their team like a consultant. At the end of the day your goal is to minimize audit risk (the risk of a bad opinion).
- Tend to be quite a bit of travel involved and you almost always have to be at the client sites. While many see this as a pro, over time less people love the travel (though the hotel points are nice).
- They tend to pay a bit better for tax since it’s more specialized
- If you really wish to open up your own firm, tax could be for you. Many small firms are focused on bookkeeping and taxes first! Audits tend to come as you grow.
- Food. The tax team almost always gets the best food catered to the office during busy season.
- Dual, tri, and quad monitors! As you’re always in the office, you typically get the best computer setup.
- In some cases may take you a year before you even meet a client.
- There is less teamwork in tax preparation. You are on your own much more than with audits.
- Many (large) firms require a Masters in Taxation.
- There are fewer positions available at larger firms than audit.
While you want to try and make the best decision for yourself, you can alway change. I’ve seen countless people start at small and large firms in one department and move to the other.
The truth is, it’s a guessing game. You will not know until you get in the game.
Do you best but don’t say, “I want to do both” or “I would do either”.
If that’s true, pick one for now, and if you hate it, switch once you’ve accepted your offer and you’re at the firm!