Work and careers – guidance

Join the HMRC Graduate Programme (Tax Professional)

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

With 56,000 employees, around £500 billion revenue, and around 33 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 single adult and business in the UK, from students and single mothers, to the largest multi-national corporations. HMRC is the business that helps keep the UK working. As such, HMRC is completely in a league of its own.

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

HMRC’s Tax Specialist Programme (TSP) leads to work as a generalist tax professional or specialist in technical or investigative work.

The programme is structured to identify and develop your potential, ensuring you’re ready to take up a senior tax position when you complete the programme, which takes around 4 years.

Along the way, as you’re gaining experience and confidence through early responsibility, supported by mentoring, advice and supervision to gain tax professional qualifications, you’ll enjoy a competitive salary. At the end of the 4-year programme, you can specialise and move around HMRC to build on your experience.

You’ll learn to deal with complex tax cases, confidently negotiate with customers and their professional advisors and to lead and influence teams.

HMRC was placed 60 and 42 out of 300 in the Guardian UK 300 top graduate employers in 2012 to 2013 and 2013 to 2014 respectively, and has been voted by students in the Target jobs awards 2013 to 2014 as the best graduate recruiter in the banking, insurance and financial services sector.

Join us on Facebook for more information or to ask us a question about the programme.

HMRC Tax Professional Development Programme

Graduate Programme (Tax Professionals)

HMRC are looking for graduates who will have a 2.2 degree before September 2016 to join our Tax Specialist Programme.

The application process for this programme opened on 1 October 2015 and will close at midnight on 24 November 2015.

The successful applicants will start work on 8 September 2016.

The work that HMRC does is vital for the UK economy, especially in the current economic climate when HMRC is committed to reducing the deficit. Despite public sector cuts we still need 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. The Tax Specialist Programme exists to identify and develop these people.

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 will 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 (eg lawyers and accountants) and how to tackle complex tax work.

The Tax Specialist Programme 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 the work HMRC do and 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

The programme is designed to give you a broad insight into the range of the tax work HMRC undertakes. It’s the perfect foundation for a wide-ranging career, and offers the opportunity to find your way as you develop. HMRC will encourage and support you in exploring and developing your own particular skills and knowledge.

What is HMRC looking for?

It takes all kinds to successfully run an organisation as complex and vital as HMRC, and as they want the people working there to reflect the Britain they serve, HMRC welcomes all applications.

For Tax Specialist Programme you must have a 2:2 degree at application stage or the expectation of a 2:2 degree before September 2016.

Note that there are different eligibility criteria for applicants already working in HMRC. See HMRC intranet for details.

HMRC only take into consideration your attitude, capabilities, talent and willingness to learn, and they are looking for people who 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 and have the determination and resilience to complete an intensive four year training programme with exams every three to four months, and six-monthly work assessments
  • team players who can also exercise their initiative
  • adaptable to shifts in business focus and customer needs HMRC’s customers and other people they deal with must have no doubt about their integrity and professionalism, therefore everything HMRC do must be above suspicion and comply with the Civil Service Code.

As a civil servant, you are appointed on merit through fair and open competition and are expected to carry out your role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.


The intensive 4-year programme includes core modules designed to equip you with essential knowledge, alongside job-specific modules related to your particular role. Modules cover both technical (tax) knowledge and the professional skills you’ll need to apply that knowledge effectively and deal efficiently with your customers.

Throughout, you will be working with and learning from an experienced team, and your responsibility will increase in line with your knowledge and confidence. Before you know it, you’ll be carrying out interviews and site visits, and perhaps even leading a team. Your programme will include:

  • practical work experience in teams, on live assignments
  • self study modules
  • formal study days at one of our training centres
  • tutor-led sessions, and office work, as well as ongoing exams and practical work assessments designed to build up your knowledge of tax law and practice
  • regular reviews and appraisals

You’ll be formally assessed on each module. A module usually lasts about 3 to 4 months, and there are 9 major exams during the programme. Your manager monitors and assesses your performance throughout, with formal assessments every 6 months. After 4 years, you’ll be ready to take on a technical/investigative role, or a customer relationship manager role.

Wherever you find yourself, you’ll 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. As you complete each module you will also be working towards gaining an externally accredited qualification. Successful completion of the programme offers the opportunity to be employed in a Grade 7 post to which the programme leads.

During the programme, you will only be able to take leave during breaks between modules. There are also set breaks - 2 weeks at Christmas, 1 week at Easter, 1 week spring break at the end of May and 4 weeks summer break in August.


2016 Tax Specialist Programme locations will be as follows:

  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • London (Greater)
  • London (Central)
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Portsmouth

Eligibility and selection process


For Tax Specialist Programme you must have a 2:2 degree at application stage or the expectation of a 2:2 degree at September 2016.

Nationality and immigration

The HMRC Tax Specialist Programme is open to applicants who are:

  • European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, including British citizens
  • Commonwealth citizens
  • Swiss nationals
  • In some circumstances, Turkish nationals


Sponsorship as the prerequisite to employment in the UK isn’t available for the Tax Specialist Programme.

You must have the right to live and work in the UK throughout the scheme. Bear this in mind, particularly if your right to live and work in the UK will expire before the end of the end of the 4 year training programme.

For more information on Civil Service nationality rules, please see the Civil Service website.

Selection Process

You will need to complete an application form and the selection process has three stages.

Application form

The application form asks for personal information such as National Insurance number and contact details. HMRC also requires a full employment history for the past three years (including dates) as well as referee contact details. You don’t need to complete the application all at once as you are able to save any information you have entered and log in at a later stage to complete it. However, we recommend completing them as soon as possible so that we can provide IT support if necessary.

Stage 1

Once you have completed your application form you will be invited to complete a Civil Service Initial Sift Test followed by tests assessing your verbal and numerical skills and a questionnaire looking at your style of working.

Online tests

There are four stage 1 tests which may include:

  • civil service initial sift test
  • numerical reasoning
  • verbal reasoning
  • work style questionnaire

After completing the work style questionnaire, your application will be placed on hold while we decide if you are eligible to move onto the next stage. We will issue your results by email.

Stage 2

You will be asked to take an online analytical skills test and a deductive reasoning test. Specific details about these tests and any other online test will be given to you nearer the time. Stage 2 will open on 2 December and close on 21 December 2015.

Stage 3

A 1-day assessment from midday to midday from 1 February to 4 March 2016 at one of the following venues.

  • Warwick Conference Centre, Coventry
  • Lawress Hall, Lincoln

Full information will be given nearer the time.

Our recruitment process is underpinned by the principle of appointment on the basis of fair and open competition and appointment on merit, as outlined in the Civil Service Commissioners’ Recruitment Principles. If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Principles and you wish to make a complaint, you should in the first instance contact the Tax Academy, HMRC TSP Project lead, Room 1c/26, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can contact the Civil Service Commission, which regulates all Civil Service recruitment.

Rehabilitation of offenders

HMRC has an exemption under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions order 1975). Applicants who are successful in reaching the interview stage of the recruitment process will be asked to declare details of any criminal convictions, including spent convictions and cautions, to allow basic security checks to be completed.

Declaring a criminal conviction will not necessarily prevent you from being successful in your application for this particular programme, but it may exclude you from applying for other posts within the department.

How to apply

Applications for the programme are made through the HMRC online recruitment system.

Tax Specialist Programme (TPS)


Personal email address

All of HMRC’s communication with you will be by email. HMRC strongly recommends that you use your own personal email address as HMRC will send emails with private information about your results.

Problems with the tests

Pop-up blockers and security settings can prevent the tests from loading, moving to the next page, submitting or freezing. It is therefore essential that you adjust your computer settings to allow the test to run properly.

HMRC has a technical support guide which can help you. You can find this on the log-in page. This is where you input your user name and log in details.

Before logging in, you will notice a column on the left-hand side with various links. By clicking on the FAQ link, you can read guidance on problems you may come across while completing the tests and solutions to these problems.

Each section offers tips on how to solve the problem and will ask you if this helps. If you work your way through each of the possible solutions and you still have problems, there is an enquiry form which you can send to HMRC’s technical support team.

If you encounter problems at the last minute, HMRC won’t have time to offer much technical assistance. Therefore, we recommend you complete the application as soon as possible. Do not wait to apply the day before the deadline, as we will not be able to help.

Candidates requiring assistance

Please contact Civil Service Resourcing’s recruitment team by emailing if you have a disability or condition which may mean that you need help with the application form or online tests. The team will be able to discuss your needs and explain what help they can offer. If you feel you require extra time for the online tests, you will have to provide written evidence that this is necessary. The sooner you contact us the sooner we can help.

Guaranteed Interview Scheme

To meet its commitment as a disability symbol user, HMRC operates a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS). We do not hold interviews so under our scheme a candidate will be guaranteed progression to stage 2 of the process if they meet the minimum required standard on the Work Style Questionnaire to a disabled person who meets the minimum criteria for the job. Please also remember to tick the GIS and/or Help Required boxes on your application form pending whether you are applying under the GIS and/or seeking additional support.

Repeat applications

If at any stage your application is rejected, you cannot re-apply. If you try and submit a second application, HMRC’s system will flag this up to their recruitment team as a duplicate application and you will be automatically barred from progressing with this.

You may also not be able to apply for any new campaigns for a while.

Other Tax Professional posts in HMRC

It is our intention to offer suitable applicants who performed well in the application processes, but have just fallen short of the required standard for the Band T scheme, places to train as Higher Officer or Officer Tax Professionals (subject to suitable scores being reached at stage 2 and/or stage 3).

Outline of the Programme

The Programme takes 4 years to complete and includes:

  • training, in the form of self-study modules, supported by tutorials and coaching
  • online knowledge tests, skills assessments and written examinations
  • practical work, undertaken individually and as part of a team

During the 4 years of the programme you will study a broad curriculum of material, including Income Tax, VAT, Capital Gains Tax, Corporation Tax and employment-related tax issues. This broad knowledge base will equip you to take up a variety of Grade 7 roles - whether as a generalist tax professional or a specialist in technical or investigative work.

In your first few weeks in post, you will spend a lot of your time studying and familiarising yourself with the work of HMRC. There will be a formal induction event and you will start to learn some of the core topics, such as legal matters and tax awareness, and you will have to pass online assessments in these topics.

During the remainder of years one and two, you will study modules such as bookkeeping, VAT, Company Taxation, Sole Traders and Partnerships and investigative work. The modules are assessed through exams at the end of each module that you are required to pass to progress on the Programme. You will also have to pass assessments of your practical skills in communications, team working and project working.

Years 3 and 4

Throughout years 3 and 4, you will be building the broader professional skills, knowledge and other competences that HMRC needs from its future tax professional leaders. You will study company taxation and income tax in greater depth, including international tax as well as capital gains tax. You will have to pass exams at the end of each module.

You will spend time in placements working in other parts of HMRC on specific areas of tax work and/or tax projects. The placements allow you to gain wider tax experience and develop wider competencies.

Every 6 months throughout the programme your manager will assess the standards of your practical work and your progress in developing the competences HMRC are looking for in a Grade 7 tax professional.

Pay and benefits

Training pay scales at June 2014

Area Pay Minimum Pay Maximum
National £27,045 * £39,946
London £29,256 * £43,192

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

If you are successful and complete the programme you will be promoted to a Grade 7 post. This is an important role in HMRC. The current pay scale for a Grade 7 in HMRC begins at £47,903 pro-rata (National), £53,915 pro-rata (London).

Read more about the benefits for working for HMRC.

Internship Programme - application process opened on 1 October 2015

The Internship Programme is an opportunity to get an insight into HMRC business over eight weeks via a graduate level work placement, enhanced by structured training, mentoring, supervision and pay.

The Programme will give you a great insight into the true flavour of what a career with HMRC would have in store and the role of a Tax professional.

You will:

  • attend presentations from a number of business areas describing their role within HMRC
  • have an opportunity to undertake real work
  • take part in personal development activities
  • complete a project

The Internship Programme will run for 8 weeks between July 2016 and August 2016.

If you have a successful internship you may be offered the opportunity to join our Tax Specialist Programme starting in September 2017.


The 2016 Internship Programme locations will be:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Nottingham


The Internship offers a pro rata salary of £15,529 pa.


The Internship is open to all students in their penultimate year of study and expect to achieve a minimum 2:2 degree in any subject by the start of the Tax Specialist Programme starting in September 2017.

You must meet the nationality and immigration requirements for the post.

Selection process

Stage 1

The first part is an online application form followed by a series of short tests which may include.

  • civil service initial sift test
  • numerical reasoning
  • verbal reasoning
  • work style questionnaire

You can complete stage 1 of the process between 1 October 2015 and 24 November 2015. Please remember to apply under the Internship Programme Application and not the Tax Specialist Programme Application; otherwise your application may be rejected.

Each of these tests is timed as well as scored. You will be given a few example questions before being asked to start the test. As soon as you launch the test the system will start counting down the time. HMRC recommends that you try and complete all of the tests as soon as possible. If you leave them to the last minute they may not be able to assist you with any technical problems.

After completing the Work Style Questionnaire your application will be placed on hold whilst HMRC decide if you are eligible to move onto the next stage. You will receive your results by email.

Stage 2

You will be asked to take an online analytical skills test and a deductive reasoning test. Specific details about these tests and any other online test will be given to you nearer the time. Stage 2 will open on 2 December and will close on 21 December 2015.

Stage 3

A 1-day assessment from midday to midday from 1 February 2016 to 4 March 2016 at one of the following venues:

  • Warwick Conference Centre, Coventry
  • Lawress Hall, Lincoln

Full information will be given nearer the time.

How to apply

You will need to apply via the HMRC online recruitment system.

Please remember to apply under the Internship Programme Application and not the Tax Specialist Programme Application, otherwise your application maybe rejected.

Further information

Please email