ISU to offer Master of Taxation degree

May 4th, 2017 | By | Category: Education

By Kendra Evensen/kevensen@journalnet.com

ISU students help prepare taxes through one of the school's tax help programs.

ISU students help prepare taxes through one of the school’s tax help programs.

POCATELLO – Idaho State University will begin offering a new degree this fall: a Master of Taxation (MTax).

The Idaho State Board of Education approved the program, proposed by ISU’s College of Business, earlier this year. University officials say the specialized degree will not only provide another career path for students, but will also help fill a market need.

“Experts in taxation are in demand in Southeast Idaho and nationally,” Dr. Daniel Ames, chair of the Accounting Department and associate dean, said in a news release.

Full-time students who already have an accounting degree will be able to take all of the required courses in as little as a year, and Idaho residents will pay approximately $12,000 in tuition, according to ISU officials. They say the national average salary for jobs associated with the degree start at $79,231.

According to PayScale.com, average salaries can differ by job, but they range from as low as $48,656 to $81,990 for a tax accountant to as high as $115,896 to $190,187 for a tax director.Masters Taxation

Dr. Ramon P. Rodriguez Jr., faculty adviser for the Master of Taxation program, says the degree is a good option for those who know they want to work in the tax industry.

Many schools began offering a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree when Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification requirements increased to 150 semester hours, Rodriguez said. But most programs don’t include very many tax classes, which has left a void in the market and created a need for a more specialized degree.

Emma-Anne Millard, director of tax talent acquisition for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which is one of the Big Four auditors, said they hire thousands of entry-level employees each year, and relatively speaking, few applicants have a MTax degree. She thinks it’s a bonus when they do.

“It can jump off the resume and catch the eye of the tax recruiter (because those applicants will have a) better understanding of tax practice and can hit the ground running,” Millard said. “If they do join the firm, they can get up to speed at the practice much faster than their peers who don’t have specialized degrees.”

Deloitte, which is also one of the Big Four, looks for applicants with backgrounds in tax, accounting, law or economics, according to its website.

“An academic skill necessary to succeed in Deloitte Tax is the ability to understand the underlying policy or theory behind tax rules, rather than focusing on memorization of code sections, limitation amounts, and various other thresholds,” the website states.

Millard says schools that offer a MTax degree can help draw more attention to the tax profession and help students to consider the career path sooner than they otherwise might.

“They may not consider tax or realize how many tax opportunities are out there in the accounting world,” she said.

ISU officials will continue to offer a MAcc degree along with the new MTax degree geared toward those who know they want to work in the tax industry. In the news release, Ames said the MTax program will follow the same structure as the MAcc in preparing students for the four parts of the CPA exam. He notes that they’ve had an 88 percent first-time pass rate among MAcc students over the last three years.

“The MTax will overlap with the MAcc program in a handful of courses,” Ames said in the news release. “However, it diverges by offering several concentrated tax courses taught by our outstanding faculty members specializing in taxation.”

ISU officials say students who participate in the MTax program will receive specialized training in estate planning along with individual, corporate and partnership taxation.

Rodriguez said they did their homework before they decided to offer the degree.

“We’ve talked to undergraduates and there’s a lot of interest,” he said, adding that they got feedback from both ISU and Brigham Young University-Idaho students.

Those who are interested in learning more about the program can contact Heidi Shiosaki, ISU’s director of Graduate Studies, at wadsheid@isu.edu or call 208- 282-296

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