Join the HMRC Graduate Programme (Tax Professional)

Find out about HMRC’s graduate recruitment programme, the selection process, and how to apply for the 2020 programme.

With around 60,000 employees, more than £627 billion revenue and around 45 million customers, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is a major government department with serious responsibilities.

HMRC’s work and the revenue it collects touches the lives of every adult and business in the UK, from students and single mothers to the largest multi-national corporations.

HMRC is the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority having a vital purpose: it collects the money that pays for the UK’s public services and helps families and individuals with targeted financial support. The work that HMRC does is vital for the UK economy.

The diversity of the work at HMRC calls for a range of tax professionals and offers a broad range of career paths and possibilities. Read more about the benefits of working for HMRC.

HMRC’s Tax Specialist Programme (TSP) leads to work as a generalist tax professional or specialist in technical or investigative work. In the 2019 TARGET jobs awards HMRC was shortlisted for the most popular graduate recruiter in the banking, insurance and financial services sector and the public sector. In 2018, HMRC was placed 59th in The Guardian UK 300 top graduate employers.

Graduate programme (Tax Professionals)

HMRC needs people with the potential to become part of the highly trained cadre of tax professionals who tackle the most challenging aspects of tax work in HMRC. TSP exists to identify and develop these people.

The Tax Professional role

Tax is a complex business offering a varied and stimulating range of career pathways and opportunities to specialise – for example, in international and corporation tax, investigation, fraud, tax policy or as a manager, technical specialist or consultant.

Eventually you’ll find your own niche, but along the way you will learn how to:

    • resolve tax disputes
    • lead teams
    • deal with senior business figures and allied professionals (such as lawyers and accountants)
    • tackle complex tax work

TSP is particularly suitable for people who are enthusiastic about:

    • dealing with people
    • tackling complex issues
    • using their intellect and solving problems
    • investigating and finding out how businesses function
    • analysing and interpreting information
    • persuasive communication: influencing, negotiating and challenging

Roles are as diverse as HMRC’s work – you could find yourself:

    • making site visits and interviewing directors, their lawyers and accountants
    • negotiating settlements and resolving tax disputes
    • representing HMRC at Appeal Tribunals
    • investigating fraud
    • working as a consultant, offering specialist advice to teams across the business
    • leading your own teams of tax professionals
    • considering and agreeing the application of tax statute and case law
    • taking responsibility for managing the relationship between HMRC and key businesses and their advisers

What is HMRC looking for?

For TSP you must have a 2:2 degree or equivalent at application stage, or the expectation of a 2:2 degree or equivalent before September 2020. Existing civil servants can apply without a degree.

HMRC is looking for people who demonstrate enthusiasm, and are:

    • independent thinkers who can confidently express their views and make decisions
    • strong analytical thinkers and problem solvers who can work out what needs to be done and take pride in doing it to completion
    • committed, with determination and resilience, to complete an intensive 3-year training programme
    • team players who can also exercise their initiative
    • adaptable to shifts in business focus and the needs of HMRC’s customers, so people they deal with have no doubt about their integrity and professionalism, because everything HMRC does must be above suspicion and comply with the Civil Service Code

All civil servants are appointed on merit through fair and open competition. The selection process will consider your attitude, capability, talent and willingness to learn. If appointed you will be and are expected to carry out your role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.

Training – what to expect

This is an intensive programme lasting around 3 years. It’s designed to give you technical knowledge and professional skills you will need when dealing with customers.

The tax technical element is delivered by HMRC’s Tax Academy. It is a well-recognised and highly successful programme delivered by tax professionals who understand the work and can put the learning into context. It is split into 2 stages.

Stage 1 provides you with a broad foundation of knowledge and skills across different areas of tax.

You will be able to put this learning into practice with your own portfolio of compliance casework. This will involve checking the tax liabilities of a range of businesses, helping customers get their tax right, and challenging those who are not complying with their legal obligations.

Stage 2 deepens your tax knowledge and builds broader professional skills that HMRC needs from its tax professional leaders.

The programme typically involves a number of self-study modules supported by tutor-led training sessions at one of our training centres. These tutorials may involve some travel, and there will be a formal exam at the end of each module.

You will be given real responsibility early on. You will be carrying out interviews and site visits to check that the right tax is being paid and, perhaps, even leading a team.

HMRC is currently exploring ways in which the programme may lead to an external qualification. Previously, successful completion of stage 2 has led to a BA (Honours) degree in Professional Studies in Taxation, but this currently under review.

The programme will include:

    • modular study for exams in tax (study time is built into the programme although most trainees find they need to supplement this with further study in their own time, especially near exams)
    • practical work, including interviewing customers and challenging their tax returns
    • working in teams and building on that experience to develop and demonstrate leadership skills
    • regular reviews and appraisals by your manager to ensure you are applying your tax learning in your practical work and that your performance is on line with the course requirements

On successful completion of the programme, you will be promoted to a Grade 7 post as a senior tax professional. You might take on a technical/investigative role, a customer relationship manager role or be involved in formulating tax policy.

Wherever you find yourself, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills essential to deal with anything from international issues or large companies to fraud, policy development or managing cases.

The programme can be completed on part time hours and the minimum number of hours recommended would be 30 hours per week. Successful candidates will be able to discuss their preferred working patterns with their manager.

HMRC is also hoping to offer a longer, more flexible programme for those with alternative working patterns, incorporating alternative delivery options. If you would like more information on this, or have any other general enquiries please email HMRC.


2020 TSP locations will be as follows:

    • Belfast
    • Birmingham
    • Bristol
    • Cardiff
    • Edinburgh
    • Glasgow
    • Leeds
    • Liverpool
    • London Stratford
    • London Croydon
    • Manchester
    • Newcastle
    • Nottingham

Nationality and immigration

You are eligible to apply for the TSP if you satisfy both the nationality and right to work/Immigration requirements.

Nationality requirements (Civil Service nationality rules)

You are eligible to apply if you are:

    • a British citizen
    • from the European Economic Area (EEA)
    • a Commonwealth citizen
    • Swiss national
    • Turkish national, in some circumstances

Nationality requirements are explained in more detail in the Civil Service nationality rules.

Right to work and immigration requirements

You must have the right to work in the UK and meet the Immigration and Visa requirements on the GOV.UK Visas and Immigration page.


HMRC is not able to sponsor applications for UK government visas associated with these jobs.

How to apply, and the selection process

The selection process has 3 stages.

Stage 1: online tests

Once you have completed your application form you will be invited to complete a verbal reasoning test. If successful, you will be invited to take a numerical reasoning test and if successful you will be invited to take a Civil Service judgement test.

If you meet the minimum standard on the Civil Service judgement test, your application will be put on hold for further consideration.

Stage 2: video interview

If successful at Stage 1, you will be invited to undertake an online video interview where your answers to a series of pre-set questions will be recorded and evaluated by a trained assessor. Full information will be given as part of your video interview invite.

You will need to complete your video interview between 25 November and 9 December 2019.

Stage 3: assessment centre

A one-day assessment at Warwick Conference Centre, Coventry, or Lawress Hall, Lincoln. The assessment day will run from midday to midday. There will be 56 assessment days between 3 February and 6 March 2020, and they will include:

    • a project management exercise
    • an analysis exercise
    • a group exercise
    • a role play exercise

A candidate pack will be sent to all attendees before their assessment.

Pay and benefits

Training pay scales at June 2018

Area Pay minimum Pay maximum
National £30,880 * £41,683
London £35,105 * £45,054

*Trainees joining from outside the Civil Service start on the minimum of the pay scale.

If you are successful and complete the programme, you will be promoted to a Grade 7 post. This is an important, senior role in HMRC. The current pay scale for a Grade 7 in HMRC begins at £51,050 (national), £57,440 (London).

Internship scheme

HMRC will run an 8-week paid internship programme for penultimate year undergraduates in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol.

More information about the programme is available here.

LSFL Courses in Tax Law

London School of Finance and Law offers over 60 online courses to tax, accounting and finance students and practitioners who value their time and opt for self-study to prepare for exams or undertake continuing professional development without interruptions in their careers. 

The most popular programmes among our students are professional exam preparation courses for accountants and investment managers: ACCA, CIMA, IMC, CFA and IAD.

There are currently 17 online courses in tax law that can be of interest for law students and practitioners specialising in the areas of company law and tax law.

We offer English language courses for tax, accounting and finance professionals planning to move to an English-speaking country for work or further studies in their professional fields. 

The courses start three times a year – in January, May and September. Register here.

View A to Z of LSFL courses in tax law