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A how-to guide on applying for a tax examiner job with the IRS


This guide will help you apply for a tax examiner position with the IRS. Generally, the tax examiner’s wage, depending on the grade level, can go from $25,000 to 34,000. There are many steps, but if you follow all the directions below, you will have the tools to successfully apply for the IRS. Good luck!

How to apply

If you want to apply to the IRS, or any other government job, first go to WWW.USAJOBS.GOV. USAJOBS is the official jobsite for the Federal Government. Once there, you will want to create an account. At the top-right part of the screen, click “create an account,” and you will be taken to the next page, where you will enter your name and other pertinent information. According to USAJOBS.COM, once you sign up, you will be able to do the following:

  • Build and store up to five distinct resumes
  • Save and automate job searches
  • Save and apply for jobs
  • Search by Agency, Occupation, Location
  • Apply to Federal Agencies
  • Learn how to use USAJOBS
  • Learn about the Federal hiring process
  • Discover special hiring programs
  • See which jobs are in demand

When you have signed up and are logged in, go to the top-left of the page for “Search Jobs.” Here, you can conduct a basic or advance search. For a basic search, you will be able to type in two search areas: key word and location. To apply to the tax examiner position, for example, type into the key word space, “tax examiner.” Alternately, you can leave the key word space blank, and use the location space. Type in a city and state to see what type of jobs are available in your area.

Once you type in tax examiner into the key word space and click search, your results will come up. There may be many tax examiner positions, or none, depending on the month. Make sure you apply to the tax examiner position during the latter part of the year (July or August is usually the best time to begin looking). When the results come up, you will see many things listed: position (in this case, it should be a tax examiner position); salary; series or grade; location; open period; announcement number; department (for a tax examiner, it will be The Department of the Treasury); agency (Internal Revenue Service); position information (temporary position, permanent, etc.); and who may apply. When you click on a tax examiner position, it will give you the overview of the position, duties, qualifications and evaluations, benefits and other info, and how to apply.

Important things to look for when applying for a government position

Duty locations are important to know, especially if you do not want to travel far. IRS positions are in almost every state. However, make sure you know where the position is and if you are willing to move to a new location, for the duty location may not be in your state or city. If the duty location states, “IRS Nationwide Locations, United States,” you have to be willing to move anywhere in the country for the position. If you choose “IRS Nationwide Location” they will give you a choice and you can often choose from several cities in which to work; other times you might not have a wide choice.

Grade or Series

Grade or series numbers go by pay grade, from a GS-1 to GS-15. If you don’t have a college degree, but have some college experience or work experience, or both, you can apply to a GS-1 up to a GS-4. If you want to apply for a GS-5, you can qualify three ways, according to USAJOBS.COM: “A. One year or twelve (12) months of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level (GS-04) in the Federal government…A Bachelor's degree or four (4) years of education above high school in any field of study from an accredited college or university. OR C. A combination of education and experience equivalent to that described above.” The tax examiner position will require a GS-4 or GS-5 grade or series.


You may ask, “How much will I get paid for a GS-4 or GS-5 position?” Well, that all depends. If you are accepted for a GS-4 position, it will pay around $25,000. The GS-5 position is from $29,000 to $34,000. Be warned: The pay will be calculated by the average wage of the location. For example, it will be cheaper to live in Nashville, Tennessee than San Francisco, California. Thus, the pay rate will be higher in San Francisco, California. If you apply for third shift, you will be paid more. Third shift positions usually pay a dollar more after 6:00pm.

Open Period

Open period means that the position that is posted will be open for a certain amount of time. For instance, a tax examiner position, or any other government position, could have an open period from a certain date of the month and end on a certain day of the month. You cannot apply after the open period ends. The position will be closed, for no more applicants will be accepted. In short, make sure you look at the open periods so you won’t waste time applying for a position that has been closed.

Position Information

Position information can be confusing since there are many types of position in the government: Career/Career Conditional (this is one position: conditional means probation for a certain amount of time), Seasonal, Term, Permanent, Student Employment, and Contracting. The most important positions, if you want to secure a permanent position with the government, is to choose Career/Career Conditional, Permanent, or Seasonal—Career/Career Conditional.

Career/Career Conditional

Career/Career conditional is a competitive position for which anyone can apply—either a civilian or a Federal Employee. This is the hardest position to get into if you have never worked for the government, because you are competing with other Federal employees, veterans (who have seniority over civilian applicants) and civilians (non-government applicants). If you do get hired as a Career/Career Conditional employee, you will be on probation for one year. To get tenure, which means you will be a permanent Federal employee, you will have to work as a Career/Career Conditional employee for three years. If you get hired on as a Career/Career Conditional employee, and you do not like the position you are in, you can apply to another position in the government as a government employee after ninety (90) days. In other words, you will not have to compete with civilian or veteran applicants.


Seasonal employment can be without a Career/Career Conditional appointment (which you do not want, for you will have to reapply at USAJOBS after your season is over) or with a Career/Career Conditional appointment (this is the one that you want). With Seasonal Career/Career Conditional, you will not have to reapply for the same position the next year, and the department will call you back to work the next season. Most, if not all, the tax examiner positions are seasonal at first. The season for tax examiners vary, but typically, they can run from ninety (90) days, or up to four to five months. In some cases, the position can run up to nine months, or the whole year. It just depends on whether or not the IRS needs the extra help.

Who may apply?

Who may apply to the position usually includes United States citizens, government workers (internal), people already in the military service, etc. Veterans will have preference over non-government employees. This gives Veterans an advantage in the hiring process. Also, if the Veteran is qualified for the position, they will get hired before a qualified non-Veteran.

When to apply

When applying for any government job, make sure, if you are currently working, not to quit your current job. Depending on what department you are interested in, the IRS hiring process can take up to six months to a year. However, since this article is about applying for a tax examiner position at the IRS, which tends to be a seasonal position, it can take anywhere from four to seven months before the process is complete and you start to work. Since the tax season is at the beginning of the year, you would want to apply around July, August or September for a tax examiner. The tax examiner position does not usually start until January or February—sometimes later.

Applying to the tax examiner position

To apply to the position, there will be blue tab on the top-right portion of the screen that says “Apply Online.” Click this tab, and it will direct you to the government site that relates to the position. Let’s assume you applied for a tax examiner position. Once you click on “Apply Online,” it will take you to the IRS website, where you will fill out your information and take a short assessment on your abilities that relate to the job. If you score is high enough, you will be on the list for the next stage in the hiring process.

The next stage

Within a couple of weeks or months of applying and taking the assessment for the tax examiner position, you will receive an email stating your score on the assessment. Your score will be based on your qualifications (education and experience), as well as what you made on your assessment. The score will be based on one of three grades: A (Superior Qualified); B (Highly Qualified); and C (Qualified). If you are get graded with an A (Superior Qualified), you have a good chance of making it to the next phase in the hiring process.

Tentative offer letter

After you receive your assessment grade, it will be about a month or two before you hear anything else. The government has to sort through the most qualified applicants. If you happen to be one of the lucky few that score a high grade, your application will get referred or considered for the position. Once you get referred, you may or may not receive a tentative offer letter. There are some cases where the IRS will notify you that you are eligible for the position but never contact you about the position again. If this happens, call the phone number that is on the tentative offer email. Usually when they do not contact you again, it is because they filled the positions. But I recommend following up with a phone call—you never know—they may have forgotten to call or email you. Best advice: Always follow-up with a phone call about the status of your application!

Accept or Decline the Offer

If you receive a tentative offer letter, one or two months will go by before you will receive an email with a link to accept or decline the offer of employment with the IRS as a tax examiner. This is a tentative offer based on whether or not you pass the background check.

Background Check and Fingerprinting

In about a month you will receive another email stating that you have made it to the background and fingerprint session. You will click on the link they give you in the email to schedule a time for the background and fingerprint session. If you applied to a position out of state, you can request to have your fingerprint and background session done in your state; they will usually accommodate you.

Firm Offer (Final Stage)

Once you finish with the background and fingerprint session and accept the offer, you will receive another email in three weeks to a month with a Firm Offer for the position of tax examiner.


If you survived this “how-to” article without passing out from an information overload, then you will have no problem applying for a government position. Now, go out there and give it your best shot: you have all the tools you need now. If you have enough patience and tenacity, you, too, can work for the federal government. Good luck!

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