A tax trainee works alongside experienced tax preparers and bookkeepers to learn the required procedures needed for a tax career. Some trainee positions pay a small starting salary, while others serve as unpaid tax internships for students typically majoring in accounting or a related business field. A tax trainee typically starts out with basic duties such as checking tallied tax statements for errors, preparing balance sheets, and entering client information into a tax preparation software program. Some tax trainees may also research specific tax laws as they apply to individual client accounts and present this information to the tax preparer.
Tax trainee job requirements may vary by local regulations and by the policies of individual accounting firms. Many aspiring tax advisers need to have at least a two-year college degree in accounting, mathematics, or business to be eligible for one of these trainees positions. Some established tax professionals hire trainees who have completed a high school degree, and these types of tax trainee positions often involve classroom lessons combined with practical experience in an accounting office. One of these entry-level jobs often prepares a trainee for local, regional, or national certifications required for a tax career.
One area of focus in a tax trainee job is the accurate preparation of various reports to be submitted to the tax revenue governing agency at the end of each fiscal year or quarter. These statements may include deducted taxes from a business's employee payroll and summaries of any taxes an individual client may owe to the tax agency. This type of work normally allows a trainee to learn the specifics of local and national tax regulations, such as which kinds of expenses qualify as deductions and which ones do not. A trainee with a bit more experience often assists a tax preparer with filling out client tax returns and with correcting common errors.
Part of a tax trainee's job is often dedicated to learning the use of specialized computer programs for various aspects of the accounting industry. Since many types of tax returns can be prepared and filed electronically, a trainee usually practices entering the correct numbers into the correct forms and double-checking the totals before submitting the completed tax return. Computer software is considered a tool that streamlines a process otherwise done with paper forms, so a tax trainee still needs to apply learned concepts of mathematics and financial laws as they relate to the tax system.