How to make it in your chosen career: The tax inspector

Job description (what it says): Determining tax liability of individuals and businesses on behalf of the Inland Revenue. Representing the Inland Revenue before the Tax Commissioners in disputed cases. Detecting tax evasion and challenging tax returns.

Job description (what it means): Being despised by every sane person in society. Hardly surprising when you consider that you'll be spending almost all your waking hours trying to catch people out. You'll be doing that by writing to, visiting and interviewing businesses, individuals and partnerships so that you can check out their accounts and background material. You'll get to manage teams of technical and clerical staff as well as managing resources and budget control.

Qualifications: Second-class honours degree minimum.

Way in: Recruitment/training is via inspector training programmes or via fast stream. Training includes practical work, assessment and exams. Usually, fast-stream trainees complete training in four years and those recruited through the inspector training programme take five to seven years.

Starting salary: £14-30,000

Perks: "One of the main satisfactions of my career is the fact that I genuinely offer a public service ensuring that rich and poor comply with the law and pay the same taxes," says one graduate recruit. Typically 9-5 with a nice balance between working in the local district tax office and visiting business premises. Variation: one day you'll be talking to Joe Bloggs with no tax knowledge; the next you might deal with a senior tax partner in a Big Six firm.

Drawbacks: You can hardly think to yourself one day, "I've had enough of my employer. I'll find another." Boring business dress. Restrictions of social contacts. Being screamed at and having fists in your face.

Read: AGCAS booklet, Accountancy, Taxation and Financial Management.

Icon: Get real. See Goodfellas for some heavy-duty examples of tax inspection.

Need not apply: Anyone with compassion. No, that's unfair. Just think again if you're the type to ooze with sympathy. Definitely think again if you're the type to ooze with gullibility.

Career prospects: After training, opportunities exist for specialist tax work in large companies, management and tax policy advice work. Fast stream is for progression into senior Civil Service.

Do say in interview: "I grassed my own brother up when he told me he was doing some moonlighting."

Don't say: "Come on, we all milk the system when we can."

Compiled by Kate Hilpern

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