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Tax Analyst Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by
| Brian Schuchart is a CPA with fourteen years of experience, including nine years in financial strategy roles. He has held the roles of auditor, staff accountant, manager of financial planning and analysis and senior finance partner.

Question 1 of 25

Are you a detail-oriented person?

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Tax Analyst Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Are you a detail-oriented person?

      The tax analyst position requires great attention to detail as the role is in charge of producing and maintaining meticulous financial records. It is expected that the analyst can catch mistakes before reporting is provided to leaders of the organization.

      Brian's Answer

      "Yes, I am extremely detail-oriented. Part of what makes me a great analyst is my organization skills and ability to self-review my work. I know that providing financial information containing errors creates doubt among leadership that the financial records are accurate. Therefore, I implement systems that allow me to check the details, such as monthly checklists and reviews."

  2. 2.

    When do corporations typically pay federal taxes?

      Companies that file Form 1120 are required to estimate their taxes and pay on the 15th day of the 4th, 6th, 9th and and 12th months of the tax year. There are some circumstances where these filing deadlines are adjusted, such as in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic.

      Brian's Answer

      "Most public companies that file Form 1120 are required to estimate their federal tax and pay four times during the course of a year. For companies with 12/31 year-ends, the due dates are typically April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and December 15th."

  3. 3.

    How would you handle working in an increasingly remote environment?

      This is a question to gauge if you are disciplined enough to work from home. Be sure to touch on how you would stay focused and communicate with team members. Even after things return to normal, remote work may continue to be more common across many industries, including accounting.

      Brian's Answer

      "I have experience working remotely. At my internship, we were able to work from home on Fridays during the summer. I enjoyed working from home and was able to stay on task and communicate effectively with my team members. There were some ground rules I implemented, such as maintaining regular hours, keeping my morning routine as if I was going to the office, and scheduling breaks to take care of non-work related tasks. I also had a standing meeting with my manager and team members every morning to discuss priorities for the day."

  4. 4.

    How do you manage your manager? In other words, what steps do you take to make sure you get what you need from your boss and make both your lives easier?

      Also known as 'managing up', 'managing your manager' is a soft skill that can be developed over time. It essentially means doing whatever is necessary to make your manager's job easier. Some clear-cut benefits of managing up include increased productivity and better working relationships between boss and employee.

      Brian's Answer

      "I am a firm believer in the benefits of managing my manager. At the end of the day, I want to make sure our work runs as smoothly as possible. One area I really focus on is communicating and prioritizing my workload on a regular basis. This ensures that I'm always working on the highest-priority items. Another thing that is crucial is understanding my manager's style. For example, do they like regular check-ins by email throughout the day, scheduled catch-up meetings, etc. Then I tailor my communication to their style."

  5. 5.

    What is your experience with interacting with senior executives at various organizations?

      A tax analyst will, at times, be expected to interact with senior leadership of an organization. Highlight that you not only have experience presenting in front of leadership, but also that you are comfortable doing it. Be specific with what you have presented.

      Brian's Answer

      "I have ample experience getting in front of leadership and presenting. In my previous role as staff accountant, I would meet with the Controller and CFO to discuss the monthly close. I always felt the need to prepare in advance for any questions that might arise and would often promptly follow-up on anything that developed during those meetings. Even though these were low risk conversations, the interactions gave me confidence at an early stage in my career."

  6. 6.

    Are you willing to work extra hours if needed during busier times?

      The life of a tax analyst is tied to the month-end close calendar and tax filing deadlines, which could result in a schedule that is 'lumpy' and not a typical 9-5. A tax analyst should expect there to be some additional time worked during busier times and should highlight that they are flexible.

      Brian's Answer

      "Yes, I am willing to work extra hours as needed. I understand that the work required ramps up during month-end close, tax filings, and other busier times. I am happy to be flexible and work as needed to make sure the job gets done."

  7. 7.

    What is Section 179 Expense?

      Section 179 Expense is a common IRS-approved method to recognize full depreciation of fixed assets in the year of purchase. There is a limit on the amount of equipment that qualifies for Section 179 in a given year (up to $1,050,000 in 2021). It is advisable to mention how Section 179 expense differs from straight-line depreciation.

      Brian's Answer

      "Section 179 Expense was instituted by the United States government to encourage companies to buy equipment and invigorate the economy. Section 179 allows a company to deduct the full purchase price of equipment in the year of purchase, as opposed to depreciating over the useful life of the asset as required by financial accounting standards. Section 179 is a nice option for companies that invest in themselves to reduce taxable income."

  8. 8.

    What have you done at your previous job to reduce costs or save time?

      The interviewer wants to know if you have the ability to improve processes. Speak to a specific action you took that resulted in reduced costs, saved time, or better insights gained.

      Brian's Answer

      "My last role was accountant for a small, established company. However, my predecessor did not have established procedures in place and it sounded like he had made constant mistakes. One of the first things I did when I started was I made a monthly checklist that detailed all the steps I took during the monthly close. Included in these steps were checks I performed to self-review my work. The checklist served as a cover sheet that I would hand off to my manager so that she would know exactly what steps I completed. This led to increased efficiency, as we estimated it saved four to six hours per month in error corrections."

  9. 9.

    How would you go about calculating estimated taxes for the current year?

      Like individuals, companies are required to pay taxes throughout the year. Most individuals, however, have taxes withheld from their paychecks and, if necessary, pay estimated taxes. Companies, on the other hand, need to pay estimated taxes each quarter as that is the only mechanism to pay taxes regularly. At the highest level, estimated taxes for a business are based on forecasted taxable income.

      Brian's Answer

      "Quarterly estimated tax payments are a necessary tool to make regular tax payments to the federal and state governments. In order to properly calculate estimated taxes, I would work with the accounting and business planning teams to develop a monthly forecast for the current year. Using this financial forecast, I would then make book-to-tax adjustments to arrive at taxable income. From there, I can calculate the estimated taxes owed. It is important to refresh this calculation each month so that the estimated taxes are always based off the latest information available."

  10. 10.

    Why did you want to become a tax analyst?

      This question is a way for the interviewer to find out a little bit about what makes you a good fit for the job. Be honest and direct - don't give a phony answer that the interviewer will see through.

      Brian's Answer

      "Since I was young, I have always liked math and have been good with numbers. I took an accounting class in high school and really enjoyed it - the concepts came naturally to me. I also aspire to be a key contributor to an organization, and I know that the analyst role is visible to leadership."

  11. 11.

    Are you proficient in Excel?

      Excel proficiency is a must for not only a tax analyst, but any role in accounting. At a minimum, a tax analyst should be able to sort through large amounts of data and analyze that data using pivot tables.

      Brian's Answer

      "Yes, I am proficient in Excel. I have used Excel extensively throughout my time in school as well as in my previous role. For example, I used data sorting and filtering as well as pivot tables to organize large amounts of data. Additionally, I have experience using V-Lookups and H-Lookups to pull together analysis for our external auditors. I have even dipped my toes into data visualization software such as Tableau, but that is a skill I would like to continue to develop."

  12. 12.

    Have you obtained your CPA license?

      Many, but not all, professionals in tax accounting have a CPA license. These days, many students are able to sit for the CPA exam before they graduate. Specifically, the Regulations section of the exam pertains to the tax profession.

      Brian's Answer

      "Becoming a CPA was a major goal for me in my career, as it helped me grow in the accounting profession. In my previous role in public accounting, I set a goal to pass all four parts of the exam in 18 months. I am proud to say I was able to do just that, and I'm looking forward to utilizing the knowledge I obtained in the next phase of my career. Specifically, the knowledge obtained from the Regulations portion of the exam will help me in my role as Tax Analyst."

  13. 13.

    How do you keep up with the latest developments in tax rules and regulations?

      This question is to see if you take the initiative to stay current on the latest tax accounting developments. If you are a CPA, talk about how you use mandatory continuing education requirements to stay up to date on the latest trends and regulations.

      Brian's Answer

      "I stay up to date in various ways. First, I subscribe to e-newsletters from the IRS to remain current on the latest rules and regulations. Additionally, since I am a CPA, I stay up to date with new standards for continuing education courses. I try to select courses that align nicely with the roles and responsibilities of my current position."

  14. 14.

    What accounting softwares are you familiar with?

      Speak specifically to the accounting systems you have used and some of the functions you performed. Many job descriptions specifically state which accounting software the company uses. In any event, make sure to highlight that you are quick to learn new software systems.

      Brian's Answer

      "In my last role, I used SAP to book journal entries and run queries. As an independent contractor, I also used Quickbooks to complete monthly bookkeeping for various clients. I used that software to book journal entries, complete bank reconciliations, run monthly reports and invoice customers. Since I have an underlying understanding of accounting, I am easily able to learn new software packages."

  15. 15.

    What are some of the most common accepted methods of depreciation?

      Depreciation expense is the recognition of the portion of a fixed asset that has been consumed in the current period. There are multiple accepted methods of depreciation, and the interviewer is testing whether you have knowledge of some of the most common methods.

      Brian's Answer

      "There are multiple methods for depreciating an asset. The most common method for financial reporting is the straight line method, where depreciation expense is recognized evenly over the life of the asset. Another common method is the declining balance method, where more expense is recognized earlier in the useful life of the asset than towards the end. The IRS allows for special depreciation methods, including Section 179 expense and half-year conventions."

  16. 16.

    What qualities or skills do you believe a good tax analyst should possess?

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  17. 17.

    What would you do if you discovered there were accounting transactions that were suspicious or questionable?

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  18. 18.

    How would you interact with our organization’s external auditors?

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  19. 19.

    The tax department interacts frequently with other departments. What are some of the ways that you can show professionalism when representing our department?

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  20. 20.

    What are permanent and temporary tax differences?

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  21. 21.

    How are C-Corporations taxed differently than S-Corporations?

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  22. 22.

    What are some methods you use to self-review your work?

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  23. 23.

    What do you do when you don’t know the answer to something?

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  24. 24.

    What is a deferred tax liability?

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  25. 25.

    What are examples of different types of taxes a company must pay?

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