Why I Decided to Study Tax at Wake Forest University

Marquis Pullen
Marquis Pullen

Why tax? This question was commonly asked of me throughout my most recent job search. During formal and informal conversations with accounting professionals at “Big Four” and regional accounting firms, many inquired about my decision to seek a tax internship and my reasons for selecting the Tax Consulting concentration in my graduate accounting program.

When I first started in the Master of Science in Accountancy Program this May, I declared Financial Transaction Services (FTS) as my primary concentration. Interested in taking my study of financial management to the next level and also learning more about valuation and business combinations, I figured the FTS route would be an appropriate way to do so.

It was after a few weeks of my Introductory Taxation course that I started to second-guess my initial concentration selection. I enjoyed studying tax, learning about crucial code sections, and applying the code to textbook tax problems. I began to see how tax consulting, like financial advisory, is an important, value-creating function within professional services firms. I started to see myself wanting to further explore a career in tax advisory.

I met with my adviser and switched my concentration from FTS to Tax Consulting.

No one can deny the centrality of financial analysis in the business decision-making process. But equally important in the decision-making equation is tax planning: the major tax implications of deal structures and tax consequences of capital budgeting alternatives. Tax permeates all aspects of economic and business life in the United States and is critical to the bottom line of commercial enterprises. For these reasons, the demand for accounting and finance professionals with specialized, conceptual and practical knowledge of income and business taxation tends to be high.

A few weeks after the switch to Tax Consulting, I asked myself should I pursue the dual concentration by adding back the FTS track. My answer: Why not? I like the quantitative, analytical, and logical aspects of tax and finance and the fact that both are so central to the ability of corporations to generate positive cash flows and create value for shareholders. Both disciplines are rigorous and challenging to learn in an academic setting, and I would imagine tax and financial consulting practice are even more difficult.

I can see myself working at the intersection of accounting, tax, and finance. I just finished a class on business combinations, of course, with a heavy emphasis on acquisition accounting and I really enjoyed it; maybe M&A advisory is in my future.