Should You Focus Your Master’s Degree on Taxation of Businesses or of Individuals?

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Taxation of entities and the taxation of individuals are similar concepts, with a few key differences. One focuses on the taxation of corporations, trusts, and other organizations, and the other focuses on the taxation of individual people. Studying either track can lead to a lucrative career.

Students earning a Master of Taxation online can advance their understanding of core subjects, including federal tax issues, tax planning and research, flow-through entities, and tax ethics, among others. Master’s students also broaden their knowledge of tax law and practice in specialized courses.

Graduates of the master’s program are prepared to become effective leaders in the field. A strong familiarity with taxation coupled with expert examinations of the industry’s latest trends gives graduates the ability to manage direct reports and confidently aid clients. Which track students take depends on their unique career goals.

Taxation of entities

Students who are eager to become experts in the business world should consider the taxation of entities track. Students learn about relevant trusts, separate taxable entities, partnerships, limited liability companies, and other topics.

After earning a Master of Taxation with a focus on entities, graduates can pursue positions such as corporate auditors, who ensure compliance with internal policies as well as state, federal, and international tax law.

In addition to studying taxation at an advanced level, students in the Entities Track learn about complex topics. For example, students deepen their knowledge of the most common types of taxes imposed by state and local governments. Graduates possess a better understanding of the underlying principles that drive distinct types of taxes, as well as their interrelationships.

Furthermore, students in the master’s program examine foreign taxes as they relate to corporations receiving income from abroad. International topics range from foreign tax credits to passive foreign investment companies. As the globalization of the economy becomes more ubiquitous, demand for these services will likely grow.

Graduates of the Entities Track can gain an advanced familiarity with flow-through entities like S corporations. Concepts including tax treatment of shareholders will become more transparent to students.

This knowledge can position students to pursue several in-demand jobs (salary figures from PayScale; job duties from BLS):

Management consultant
Average salary: $84,960
Job growth outlook 2016-26: 14 percent
Responsibilities: Assists organizations in improving business performance. Provides expertise in terms of strategy, operations, and structure.

Forensic accountant
Average salary: $65,660
Job growth outlook 2016-26: 10 percent
Responsibilities: Analyzes financial records to determine their compliance with laws and corporate standards.

Project accountant
Average salary: $55,647
Job growth outlook 2016-26: 10 percent
Responsibilities: Oversees expenses, billable hours, budget planning, and invoicing for a specific project.

Taxation of individuals

Students who want to work with individuals can opt for a track that provides a broad understanding of taxation issues, and then delves deeper into specific topics such as retirement plans and estate tax. Upon graduation, students in this track will be ready to work preparing tax returns for individuals or with trusts and estates.

In addition to the core curriculum, students in the individual track dive into retirement planning, a service that will likely always be in high demand. Students learn about the underlying requirements for funding, coverage, and distribution of retirement savings.

Additionally, graduates of the Individual Track can gain an understanding of the general rules for the taxation of trusts and estates. Students learn not only the underlying concepts but also the issues that commonly arise when forming a financial strategy.

Students who choose to focus on the taxation of individuals also expand their knowledge of investments and insurance as they relate to financial planning. The master’s program helps students develop the skills to construct investment plans and policies and provide implementation recommendations. Graduates can also be prepared to help clients make decisions about life insurance policies, plans for long-term care, and personal liability issues. When studying these concepts, students can develop a better understanding of how to mitigate risk and think critically.

The skills practiced throughout the Individual Track can give graduates the ability to qualify for various careers:

Certified Public Accountant
Average salary: $63,733
Job growth outlook 2016-26: 10 percent
Responsibilities: Audits financial records for individual clients or organizational stakeholders. Prepares tax returns while maintaining compliance with laws and standards.

Tax Accountant
Average salary: $55,429
Job growth outlook 2016-26: 10 percent
Responsibilities: Maintains and updates knowledge of local, state, and federal tax laws and trends. Creates return estimates and prepares payments. Develops regular reports that provide transparency and clarity.

Estate Planner
Average salary: $100,000
Job growth outlook 2016-26: 15 percent
Responsibilities: Provides consulting expertise to clients and develops strategies for financial management. Aids clients in making decisions concerning insurance and investments.

Advance your tax career with a degree from Northeastern

Whether you want to focus on the taxation of individuals or entities, the Online Master of Science in Taxation at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business offers experienced tax professionals the skills to be more competitive candidates in the field. Contact an enrollment advisor to learn more about how an advanced degree can shape your career path.

Recommended Readings:

Classes you can take in Northeastern’s MST Program

Online Master of Science at Northeastern University


Management Consultant Salary

Personal Financial Advisor Career

Financial Management Analyst

Forensic Accountant Salary

Accountants and Auditors

Project Accountant Salary

Public Accountant Salary

Tax Accountant Salary

Estate Planner Salary

Northeastern University’s Online MST Program