How to Become a Tax Attorney – Tax Lawyer Salary Guide

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One of the most common specialties chosen by future lawyers is tax. This is one of the most obvious ones, given that every year, there’s tax season and there will always be individuals and business who need advice regarding the fees that they’re required to pay. Most of the tax lawyers out there usually have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or other similar programs prior to being in law school. This certainly helps; however, anybody who is determined to become a tax lawyer can do it—given that once they’re in law school, they pick classes based on what they’d like to practice.

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What is a Tax Attorney?

Once you become a tax attorney, you will be a specialist in all legal aspects of taxation. Generally, tax lawyers are the ones who handle their clients’ issues with the IRS and other revenue agencies. A good tax lawyer can stop problems with taxes and auditing as soon as they appear and they can foresee potential headaches for their client’s business.

Also, keep in mind that because tax is a tricky subject that’s very dynamic, you need to be able to keep up with changes in tax law. Almost every year, a new law for taxes will be implemented, or your client might want to expand their business next year, hence, their need to consult you. Business owners aren’t the only ones that need your services—you can get clients who need to solve disputes regarding an estate that they’ve inherited, etc.

A tax lawyer is needed when:

  • A client is planning on starting up a business and seeks legal counsel with regards to the taxes that he or she needs to pay before and during.
  • A client owns an estate that is taxable.
  • A client is planning on expanding their business internationally and needs assistance with drafting contracts and how they can establish a proper tax treatment.
  • A client wants to file a suit against the Internal Revenue Service
  • A client is being investigated for criminal charges by the IRS
  • A client has committed tax fraud and needs an attorney for their defense.

Tax Attorney Salary

How much does a tax lawyer make a year?

The average tax attorney salary for this field is around $57,000 annually for those who are just starting out and around $211,000 for those who have years of experience under their belt—and that doesn’t include the bonuses yet.

The great thing about being a tax lawyer is that you’re almost always in demand every year, especially around April because of the tax season. It’s a good source of income, considering that the average salary can be quite hefty and it most likely gets higher if you’re employed by a prestigious law firm in a big city.

These are ten special areas that you can focus on to increase your income further:

  1. Corporate tax
  2. International tax laws
  3. Financial services
  4. Estate planning
  5. Taxation for international dealings
  6. Business taxation
  7. Federal taxation
  8. Estate and gift tax
  9. Successions

There has been a trend for the past few years to have in-house corporate lawyers that are familiar with international tax laws, especially for multi-national conglomerates where they intend to make a major part of their income overseas.

Keep in mind that salary should not be the only driver when making a career choice. If number’s are not your strength and instead you are an animal lover, then working as a veterinarian or even as a veterinary technician might give you a more fulfilling career path both of which will earn you a good salary.

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How to Become a Tax Attorney

What do I need to have before practicing as a tax lawyer?

  • Bachelor’s degree – You’re only requirement is to have finished a 4-year program from a university—however, it certainly helps if you have a Bachelor of Science in a business or accounting related degree. This gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the financial and structural aspect of business. You need to have an interest (or at least, enough knowledge to be able to do it everyday) in accounting, statistics, and math—you’re practically a lawyer and an accountant at the same time.
  • An LL.M. in Taxation – You can attend law school to get your Master of Laws in Taxation. Your program should provide you with two choices—you can take up various electives to develop your knowledge in tax law or you can direct yourself towards a specialization that you’ve set your mind to. Most, if not all, US schools require students to have 30 hours’ worth of required semester credits and at around 60 hours for electives.
  • A license – Of course, you’re going to need a license to practice in the state you’re currently in. However, if you’re one of those who need to relocate to another state or country because of their law firms, you may have to take the bar exams more than once.

Top Tax Law Schools

Are there any tax law schools that can be recommended for those interested to become tax lawyers?

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Most top-ranking tax law schools in the United States and other countries provide LLM tax programs for those who are interested in pursuing a career as a tax attorney. Some of these schools include:

  • New York University School of Law (New York, NY) – NYU almost always tops the rankings for best tax law schools in the United States. Currently, they have more than 50 courses that cover tax laws for domestic and international dealings. Annual tuition – $54,678
  • Columbia University Law School (New York, NY) – Columbia Law School produces some of the most sought-after lawyers in the field of both corporate and tax law. Their program covers courses such as estates, partnerships, trusts, and bankruptcy. Annual tuition – $57,838
  • University of Florida – Levin College of Law (Gainesville, FL) – The Levin College of Law in University of Florida offers a different kind of program for those who want to become tax attorneys. Their LL.M. program is only one year and is created for those who already have their law degree. Annual tuition – $41,546
  • Harvard Law School (Cambridge, MA) – JD and LLM students at Hardvard Law School has the freedom to choose from 10 courses about tax law. The Ivy League university also offers an exclusive program for those who’d like to pursue international tax. Annual tuition – $53,308
  • University of San Diego School of Law (San Diego, CA) – The University of San Diego is proclaimed to have the best LL.M. in Taxation program in the west. Evidently, their tax law program can be taken up by both part-time and full-time students and their method are experiential. They give their students freedom to participate in in tax clinics where they can have first-hand experience in assisting low-income taxpayers with their settlements. Annual tuition – $45,860

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