Tax inspector: job description

Tax inspectors calculate the tax liability of businesses and individuals, check tax returns and identify tax evasion.

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Tax inspectors work for HMRC and the graduate scheme lasts four years.

What does a tax inspector do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Responsibilities include:

  • providing guidance about and applying taxation legislation
  • examining financial accounts and related documents
  • managing junior clerical and technical staff
  • investigating potential fraud cases via interviews, visits and research
  • writing reports
  • representing HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in disputes brought before the tax commissioners
  • managing budgets and resources
  • agreeing settlements in person or via written correspondence with taxpayers or their representatives (accountants and lawyers).

Typical employers of tax inspectors

Tax inspectors work for the government's HMRC department. Vacancies are advertised online, by careers services and in national newspapers. Competition is intense and there is a rigorous recruitment process designed to identify graduates who possess excellent academic ability, appropriate skills and leadership potential.

Closing dates are generally November for the tax specialist graduate programme: applications should be submitted in good time. Further details about vacancies and the application process can be obtained from HMRC's website.

Qualifications and training required

It is possible for both graduates and school leavers to become tax inspectors, although it is more common for graduates to be employed in this sector. Graduates will need a good honours degree in any subject (minimum 2.2). Postgraduate qualifications and previous relevant experience are not required but are advantageous and may be rewarded with higher starting salaries.

School leavers can enter HMRC at a lower level as revenue executives and work their way up, dependent on passing the appropriate departmental/professional requirements.

Key skills for tax inspectors

  • independent thinking
  • strong problem-solving and analytical ability
  • determination and resilience
  • decisiveness
  • adaptability
  • interpersonal skills
  • communication skills
  • excellent numerical and IT skills

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