All in all, it is a good time to be in the tax profession. While schools across the country are graduating record numbers of finance and accounting students, demand from businesses is also quite high, which is reflected in premium salaries versus other professional disciplines.
In fact, a Korn Ferry analysis shows the 2019 median starting salary for new college graduates overall was $51,437, compared to the $60,050 average for entry-level tax analysts; with more experience, that salary increases at a good pace.
It is important to know that compensation for tax professionals can vary widely depending on the city the job is based in. Korn Ferry tracks compensation data globally for millions of employees and thousands of organizations. In support of this research, compensation for tax roles is extracted from 300 U.S. organizations providing data on more than 2,300 incumbents.
Below are the U.S. national average base salaries of select tax professionals:
- Tax analyst (bachelor’s degree and up to 2 years of experience): $60,050
- Intermediate tax accountant (bachelor’s degree and 2-4 years of experience): $66,969
- Senior tax accountant (bachelor’s degree and 6+ years of experience): $99,625.
Base salaries for tax professionals in major cities across the United States can vary dramatically. Boston, New York, and San Francisco pay among the highest for these roles, while Atlanta and Dallas are two of the lower paying major metropolitan areas surveyed. The full numbers are shown in the Exhibit.
Base Salaries for Tax Professionals, by Major City
In addition, there tends to be a correlation between organization size and compensation; larger organizations tend to pay more than smaller organizations for similar roles.
Besides base salaries, most for-profit organizations also offer incentive compensation, often ranging from 5% to 10% for lower-level tax jobs and from 10% to 20% for first-level tax management roles. Incentive opportunities, as well as the possibility of long-term incentives, increase with more senior tax executive roles.
Incumbents in tax roles typically increase their compensation as they gain more experience and increasingly work on more complex tax matters, advising and influencing their internal and external customers and supporting larger parts of the organization.
As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, only two things are certain, and one of them is taxes. For anyone concerned about job security, this is the profession to choose.