Job: Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) tax auditor
Role: The role of a CRA tax auditor is to analyze the tax records of individuals and businesses to ensure that they are fulfilling their Canadian tax obligations, and receiving any amount they are entitled to from the government.
Tax auditors typically manage multiple accounts at a time, working from CRA offices as well as inside the taxpayers' premises. They work both individually and as part of a larger team of experts and specialists in specialized fields.
"The type of audit an auditor looks at will depend on their experience and position within the CRA," said Lisa Anawati, the director general of the international and large business directorate for the CRA. "A typical day in the auditor's life could include analyzing their workload and what type of businesses they have to review, they're gathering information about the taxpayer from our various systems, and they're conducting research on the industry."
Ms. Anawati adds that auditors are required to possess strong time management, interpersonal, communication and analytical skills.
Education: In order to become a tax auditor with the CRA, one must possesses a post-secondary degree with a specialization in accounting, or a chartered accountant designation.
"We don't require both, but nowadays to get the designation you need to have the university degree, so one follows the other, but if you don't have the designation a bachelors with a concentration in accounting will do," Ms. Anawati said.
Salary: The salary of a CRA tax auditor varies widely depending on their level of experience and position. Junior auditors, who typically audit small and medium-sized businesses, are given the designation of AU1, and typically earn a starting salary between $44,000 and $46,000 per year.
"As they become more experienced, they have an opportunity to apply on staffing processes for more senior positions, all the way up to an AU6 position," Ms. Anawati said. "The higher you go in the staffing process, the more specialized you become, and of course the work becomes much more complex. People in the AU6 range are typically dealing with large multi-national corporations."
Ms. Anawati adds that senior auditors are typically found in large urban centres that are home to multi-national corporations, and can earn as much as $124,000 per year.
Job prospects: After revealing the 2015 federal budget, the Conservative government announced its plans to provide the CRA with an additional $118.2-million over the next five years, which will allow for a large number of new hires during that time. Furthermore, an aging workforce has increased the need for new entrants.
While the CRA has auditors working in offices in every province from coast to coast, the size and location of each office will determine the level of experience required within.
"The large businesses in Canada tend to be located in the large urban centres, so that's where we have to put our auditors for the most part," said Ms. Anawati. "The more senior ones, anyway."
Challenges: Keeping up with changing tax regulatory systems can be a challenge for tax auditors, however Ms. Anawati believes that such challenges are embraced by the "analytical folks" who choose to work in such an environment. Instead she points to disputes between auditors and taxpayers as a significant challenge of the job.
"The taxpayers are not necessarily choosing to be audited," she said. "To address that, the CRA has really strong and intensive training programs."
Why they do it: The job of a CRA tax auditor is ideal for individuals who enjoy the challenge of analyzing and working both with a support team in-house and with a wide variety of businesses and individuals offsite. Furthermore, as federal employees, auditors are provided with a wide variety of employee benefits.
"Our auditors enjoy the ability to work flexible work hours and telecommuting options," said Ms. Anawati. "We also pride ourselves on what we do, because we're public servants."
Misconceptions: The CRA often finds itself competing with the private sector for accounting talent, and Ms. Anawati believes that many entering the industry have an impression that working for the government isn't as interesting or exciting as other accounting careers.
"The truth is that the CRA has a wide range of jobs for students, recent graduates or even mid-career folks, in accounting and even information technology and IT," she said.
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