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What is a Tax Assessor?

Municipalities employ a property tax assessor to calculate real estate taxes.
Some municipalities require that tax assessors be certified public accountants.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2014
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A tax assessor is responsible for interpreting the tax laws and regulations to determine the amount of tax that is owed for a particular transaction. Although the role of tax assessor is often viewed as a negative one, it is an important role for all government agencies. The equitable application of tax laws increases compliance and provides the funding necessary for government activities.

There are three requirements to becoming a tax assessor: post-secondary education, interpersonal skills, and in-depth knowledge of taxation. The majority of tax assessors have university degrees in accounting, finance, business, or management. Some federal and state agencies require all tax assessors to be Certified Public Accountants (CPA).

Interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, and debating skills are all necessary to be a successful tax assessor. It is important to be able to defuse a situation, explain the reasoning logically and come to a resolution. Most employers conduct personality tests to determine a person’s suitability for this type of job.

All accountants are required to take at least two courses on personal and business taxation. In addition to this information, additional specialist courses are required. These programs are managed internally by the taxation agency. An exam is usually held at the end of the course to test the level of knowledge. If the candidate fails this test, he is no longer eligible for a role as a tax assessor.

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There are three kinds of tax assessors: income tax, property tax and customs taxes, and tariffs. Each type of assessor has different level of responsibility, working environment and physical location. There are many opportunities for transfers between the different tax centers.

Income tax assessors usually work in a centralized office building. They are responsible for random selection and review of income tax returns filed by individuals and businesses. This role is usually the first step to a position as an income tax auditor.

A property tax assessor has a combination of office and fieldwork. He is responsible for confirming the estimated value and taxation for physical items. This can include buildings, arts, equipment, and inventions. They are responsible for researching the item and then viewing the actual property to confirm the assessed value.

Customs tax assessors work at border points and airports. They are responsible for ensuing the correct tax is charged on items that are being transported into the country. This includes personal items and property shipped from other locations. They review the documentation, inspect the item, and then make the decision of the taxation category and rate.

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