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Is There Life Outside Public Accounting for Tax Accountants?

Are you considering a line of work that’s not so heavy on the Excel? Does your co-worker’s audible humming drive you crazy? Is it possible that you’ve been working too hard and are just hearing things? Email us your questions and we’ll make it stop.

Hey GC,
There have been a lot of articles lately about what to do when you want to leave public accounting and how to succeed just well enough to get your senior badge and gtfo. Every time it’s geared towards the audit side of things and tax is a slightly different story. Where can I go after that fateful Sept/Oct/April 15th when I finally lose it and chuck the laptop out the window, burn a couple returns, and inevitably give an intern a bag of poo to courier as a client copy? In all seriousness, where do the tax people go when they leave? Everyone I know is in audit and I’m not asking anyone here [Ed. note: a mid-tier firm]. Let’s broadly say corporate, estate, some individual experience.
Maybe I’d like to see daylight in March in a few years.
Dear Daylight,
We appreciate your question and just know that we love hearing from you tax jockeys. It just so happens that auditors are exponentially more miserable and, thus, more willing to write a desperate cry for help to a washed-up Big 4 refugee and liberal arts dropout. But if you’re in tax, don’t hesitate to act on your desperation; email us with any questions from life to love to accelerated depreciation.
So. Where do tax people go after they’re sick of public accounting? Well, if we’re talking large companies, they can go just about everywhere auditors can go. Most large multi-national corporations have strong tax departments (Weatheford International is Exhibit A for companies that do not) and sometimes the magic acts they perform get far more attention than their financial accountant counterparts. Just ask the tax teams at Apple or General Electric about that.
But what if you’re not looking for a job in a mega-company? Luckily, smaller companies need tax experts too and if you have broad experience like you described – corporate, estate, individual – a family-owned or closely-held private company may be perfect for you. Anything from a small private oil and gas company to a obscure private equity or hedge fund shop will need tax planning for its array of entities, partners, owners, executives, etc. Those companies will save a lot of money employing a team of tax experts to do work in house as opposed to handing everything over to their CPA firm.
The challenge is that these opportunities are a little harder to find than your run-of-the-mill financial accounting job, so you’ll have to do a lot of legwork to find one. An even better idea is to work with a recruiter and express your desire to GTFO of public accounting. You’ll be handing bags of poo to the intern at your new, non-public job in no time.


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