Categorized | Life

Financial Aid for Wounded Workers

Posted on 18 November 2008

Instead of sending Uncle Sam your money this year, you could be getting a big check from him–every two weeks. The taxman is hiring now, and hiring big. Between 1,000 and 2,000 professional employees will be hired. Anyone interested in working as an Internal Revenue agent, criminal investigator, revenue officer, tax specialist, resolution representative, or compliance officer should take note.

You can get your foot in the IRS door with a surprisingly small amount of accounting coursework. Some jobs, such as revenue officer, demand no such coursework; others require as little as six hours of accounting. So says Ellen Levine, director of the IRS career management and recruitment division in Washington, DC.

The agency is also searching beyond the college graduate job candidate pool. “We are looking for people who want to come in mid-career,” Levine confirms, “having decided that the benefits of working for the government will appeal to them. We’re talking about how it all adds up: quality of life, stability, career progression, benefits, and location.”

You may get to bring something to work that most Big Five accountants wouldn’t dream of–a gun.

Balance More Than Your Budget
Levine believes that IRS employees will be able to balance their work and home lives. You’ll work 40 hours a week with no overtime–unless you opt for it. If you do work longer hours, you’re given comp time. You’ll earn 13 days of sick leave and 13 days of vacation time as a newcomer; double that if you stay 15 years. You can work part-time, or even seasonally from January to April. With on-site day care at the larger offices and flex time in virtually any office, it’s easy to see why Levine thinks IRS benefits are among the best in the accounting world.

The IRS also has a good labor record with persons of color and religious minorities. “There are lots of opportunities,” Levine says. “The government has always been in the forefront of encouraging a diverse workforce.” Whether you’re a secretary or a revenue agent, you’ll find the IRS anxious to advance your accounting knowledge. “We have a human resources investment fund that takes a percentage of the training budget and allows employees to gain mission-related education that’s not job related. If you come in as a secretary and want to become a tax specialist, you can apply for a grant to attend school and start gaining accounting competencies. Assuming you pass the course, you do not have to pay it back,” explains Levine. Last year, 2,000 of the 100,000 IRS employees took advantage of the fund.

If you’re worried about moving to Washington, DC–Surprise! Most IRS employees work well outside the Beltway, in any number of major U.S. cities.

Could You Really Work for the Man?
There are some drawbacks to working for the IRS. If you’re ever a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, you may get booed by the audience, as one IRS employee found. And you may become the target of endless cocktail party quips when people ask where you work. But it’s not all that bad, Levine insists.

“The [anti-IRS] attitude is changing because, as demographers tell us, the college students we’re looking at hiring haven’t had a lot of experience with the IRS, so they’re not coming in with preconceived notions. There might be the notion that we’re the accountants with eyeshades. If you come work for us, you’ll be dealing with large companies almost from day one after your training. The challenges and growth opportunities are so much greater here [than at other accounting firms],” says Levine.

Unlike those Big Five accounting firms, the IRS won’t constantly put you on the road. “Most of our employees work within their own commuting area, so there isn’t a lot of travel other than local travel, going to a taxpayer’s residence or place of business,” she explains. Sign up for a job in the criminal investigation arm and you’ll get to bring something to work most Big Five accountants wouldn’t dream of–a gun.

And perhaps most soothing of all, you’ll never have to worry about being merged out of a job with the IRS. This is one company that’s never going to be on anyone’s acquisition target list.

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