I am contemplating obtaining a Masters degree in Taxation.
I am a CPA: accountant, tax preparer, bean counter, glorified bookkeeper, all around number cruncher. Several years ago, after working for a Big 4 accounting firm then later as Tax Manager at a national newspaper company, I decided I no longer wanted to be an accountant and left my job. Shortly thereafter, the company was bought out and everyone in my department lost their jobs.
A few years later I was back in tax at a global high-tech manufacturing company but soon switched departments to dabble in portal content management. I left the company altogether due to the chaos created by underfunding, undermanning, and underappreciating the portal team. Shortly thereafter, the company eliminated the department altogether and everyone lost their jobs.
*Trying to pretend I do not know what a Jonah is right now.*
I am now back at the small town public accounting firm I left over ten years ago to obtain broader tax experience in the big metropolis. It is like an old shoe, this firm: comfortable and warm and perhaps a bit boring. Hence the idea of obtaining my Masters degree to jazz things up a bit.
I emailed three of my friends who are high up the Tax food chain in both public companies and private accounting firms to ask about how a specific online course/University is respected, what they think of a potential new hire with a degree from this online U compared to a brick-and-mortar school, etc.
Two emailed back great info about the school’s reputation, the current scarcity of qualified people at certain tax levels, etc. The third called me the next day. I have condensed and paraphrased the conversation for your convenience:
Friend: WHY do you want to jump into a Masters degree program?
Me: I’m bored.
Friend: How old will you be when you finish?
Me: 50, including a few years of indentured servitude to my current employer if they opt to pay for the degree.
Friend: Um, WHY do you want to do this again?
Me: Think of it as really expensive CPE.*
Friend: Oh, well in that case, why not?
We are much alike, me and Friend. It was the right question to ask. Also factor in the fact that I only had one tax class in college. ONE. Yes, yes, I have had many CPE courses over the past twenty+ years and I have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge on the job, which is invaluable. BUT – and there is always a BUT – it feels slapdash and piecemeal. Tax is a fast moving business and the general attitude is “Go get your required CPE in the minimum possible amount of nonchargeable time and get your ass back here to bill bill bill and make the firm some money.” It is the nature of the business.
I have proposed weekly lunchtime CPE at the firm, where I teach classes on subjects ranging from simple Excel tips and tricks to more complicated tax subjects. The Masters course would give me fodder for the latter, which the partners themselves might be interested in. They are both incredibly smart but neither of them has a Masters degree in Tax, in fact I do not know of anyone in town who has one, so it could be fun for all.
Enrollment begins later this month for classes starting at the end of August. Decisions, decisions.
*CPA licensing requirements demand a certain number of hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) each two-year licensing period. Costs start at about $100 for a self-study class on a simple subject earning a few hours of CPE and go up from there. Each 3-unit course at the online U approximates $2,500 but it does count for 45 hours of CPE.