Tax officers are civil servants, working for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who work out how much tax companies and individuals must pay on their income and profits. Some tax inspectors work in areas such as fraud or international taxation.
You could be:
checking tax returns from companies and individuals
making sure the right amount of tax is being paid
examining the accounts of a company or an individual suspected of fraud
interviewing clients and their accountants and lawyers, asking them to explain any irregularities in the accounts
negotiating the amount of tax to be collected and resolving disputes
arranging for the collection of unpaid tax
leading a team of tax professionals
representing HMRC at tribunals and in court.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the department in which you work
the demand for the job.
Trainees on the HMRC Graduate Programme (Tax Professional) start on £30,880 a year (£35,105 a year in London). Once they have qualified, tax officers start on Grade 7 at £51,050 a year (£57,440 in London). There is a good pension scheme.
You would work in a government office, usually during normal office hours.
You might also have to work some evenings or weekends.
You might be able to work part time or flexitime.
You may sometimes have to travel to interview clients at their company premises.
You would have to work under pressure at times.
You would have to make difficult and unpopular decisions, sometimes in confrontational situations.
You might have to move to different locations in the UK at the request of your employer.
Entry is very competitive and is through the HMRC Graduate Programme (Tax Professional).
To join the Tax Specialist Programme you need at least a 2:2 Honours degree (SCQF Level 10). Entry requirements for degree courses are 4-5 Highers.
The recruitment process for the programme has three stages: Stage 1 is an application form and some online tests; Stage 2 you will be invited to undertake an online video interview where your answers to a series of pre-set questions will be recorded and evaluated by a trained assessor; Stage 3 is one day spent at an assessment centre.
The Civil Service has nationality requirements. For the Tax Specialist Programme, you should be a UK national, Commonwealth citizen, or EEA national. You can get more information on nationality requirements on the Civil Service website. You must have the right to work in the UK and meet the Immigration and Visa requirements on the GOV.UKVisas and Immigration page.
Security checks are part of the selection process. You will be asked to declare any spent or unspent convictions and cautions.
Alternatively, you might become a tax inspector after gaining experience in a more junior executive post within Revenue and Customs, and working your way up.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
able to get on well with a wide range of people
good at dealing with complex information and issues
able to communicate effectively in speech and writing
analytical and good at solving problems
able to think independently
discreet in dealing with others and with confidential information
assertive and willing to take, and stand by, unpopular decisions
able to negotiate, challenge and influence
flexible to deal with change.
Training for the Tax Specialist Professional takes three years to complete and covers both technical (tax) knowledge and professional skills.
You work towards a BA (Hons) in Professional Studies in Taxation (SCQF Level 10). (currently under review).
Trainees have mentors and supervisors.
After your training is complete you would take on a technical or investigative role, or a customer relationship manager role.
There is a clear promotion structure within the Civil Service, and promotion depends on experience and merit.
You might work as a consultant, offering specialist advice to teams across the business.
You could go on to become a district inspector, managing an office, a team of inspectors and other executives and support staff.
With further experience you could gain promotion to more senior management positions.
HMRC sometimes run an Internship Programme for 8 weeks over the summer. This is an opportunity to gain an insight into HMRC business and the role of a Tax Professional. Please note that this programme may not run every year.
Revenue and Customs jobs are usually advertised in the local press and Jobcentre Plus offices.
Recruitment for the HMRC Graduate Programme (Tax Professional) usually begins in September each year for entry the following September. Please refer to the HMRC website for updates.