Join the HMRC graduate programme (Tax Professional)

Find out about HMRC's graduate recruitment programme, the selection process, and how to apply for the 2021 programme.

Applications for the Tax Specialist Programme 2021 have now closed.

About us

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) plays a vital part in our society and economy.

We are the UK’s tax and customs authority. Our purpose is to collect the money that pays for the country’s public services and helps families and individuals with targeted financial support.

Our work funds schools and hospitals, builds roads and infrastructure and supports communities and the economy – so we need everyone to pay the tax that is legally due, no matter who they are.

We do this through education, excellent customer service and well-designed systems - and we step in when tax is at risk of not being paid.

We’re among the best in the world at what we do: around 95% of the tax legally due in the UK is paid. In 2018 to 2019 alone, we secured just under £628 billion.

With around 60,000 employees serving 45 million customers, HMRC is a major government department which offers a broad range of career paths and possibilities for tax professionals. Our Tax Specialist Programme (TSP) typically leads to work as a generalist tax professional or specialist in technical or investigative work.

In the 2019 TARGET jobs awards we were shortlisted for the most popular graduate recruiter in the banking, insurance and financial services sector and the public sector. We were shortlisted again in 2020, as well as being placed 59th in The Guardian UK 300 top graduate employers.

Read more about the benefits of working for HMRC.

Watch a YouTube video of HMRC Achievements in 2018 to 2019.

Our Tax Specialist Programme: a gateway to the tax profession

High-potential graduates who join our Tax Specialist Programme will get the chance to become part of a highly-trained group of tax professionals who tackle the most challenging aspects of tax work in HMRC.

The tax profession offers 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

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 are we looking for?

We’re 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 in line with the Civil Service Commission: Recruitment Principals. 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.

Watch the YouTube video: A Commitment to Diversity – Blind Recruitment

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.

Hear Michael’s story on how he’s developed his skills since starting the Tax Specialist Programme. What will the successful trainees be doing?

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 and challenging the tax liabilities of a range of businesses, helping customers get their tax right, and negotiating with those who dispute their legal obligations.

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

You will be supported throughout the programme and given real responsibility early on which may include leading a team.

Your programme will include:

  • 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. 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 within teams and building on that experience to develop and demonstrate leaderships 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 .

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 at the conditional offer stage.

We are 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 us.

Locations, pay and benefits

2021 TSP locations will be as follows:

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


Training pay scales (June 2020)

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).

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


Having a good work-life balance is really important, and we offer flexible working patterns as part of the TSP programme. Your hard work won’t go unnoticed either, as we have several reward schemes in place to recognise our brilliant colleagues. Here’s a few of our benefits:

  • competitive pensions
  • help with caring responsibilities, including special leave
  • generous paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave
  • our Employee Assistance Programme - access to counselling and support for both work and personal concerns
  • a community volunteering programme, the opportunity to join a trade union, and discounted membership of local and national sports and social groups, like Civil Service Council Sports and Leisure

Read more about the benefits of working for HMRC


You must have a 2:2 degree or equivalent at application stage, or the expectation of a 2:2 degree or equivalent before September 2021. Civil servants who do not meet the academic qualification can apply if you were recruited through fair and open competition and have passed your probation period.

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.

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.

Rehabilitation of offenders

HMRC has an exemption under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions order 1975).

Applicants who are successful in reaching the provisional offer 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, and the selection process

The application has 3 stages.

Stage 1: application and on-line tests

14 October to 11 November 2020

You must complete an application form and the civil service judgement test.

Once you have completed the civil service judgement test your application will be put on hold for further consideration. After the test deadline, we will look at all applicant scores and we may increase the pass mark.

We will consider the impact on protected groups, and the number of invitations to the next stage.

We will advise you if your application has been unsuccessful or successful.

20 to 27 November 2020

If you have been successful in the judgement test, you will be invited to complete the civil service verbal reasoning test.

If you meet the minimum standard for the verbal reasoning test, you will be invited to take the civil service numerical test.

If you meet the minimum standard for the numerical test, you will be invited to take the civil service strengths test.

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

After the test deadline, we will look at all applicant scores on the verbal, numerical and strengths tests to decide the job’s pass mark. We will consider the impact on protected groups, and the number of invitations to the next stage.

We may decide to raise the pass mark for the job - if so, you will be informed, and you will be told if you have passed or failed at the raised standard.

Meeting the minimum test requirements for a job level is no guarantee of an invitation to continue the selection process.

Stage 2

10 December to 17 December 2020

If you have been successful you will be invited to take a video interview. Further details will be provided with your invitation.

Stage 3

February 2021

If you have been successful at the video interview stage you will be invited to attend a one day assessment centre. The assessment centre will be a virtual assessment centre and full details will be provided with your invitation.

Applications must be made through the Civil Service jobs site. We do not accept CVs.

Repeat applications

You cannot re-apply for the same year’s intake if you fail at any stage of the application process. Any second application will be flagged as a duplicate and removed from the system.

You can however apply again for the TSP programme the following year.

Candidates requiring assistance

If someone with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

Watch Ruth’s story on YouTube

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:

  • email the Government Recruitment Service as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs
  • complete the ‘Assistance required’ section in the ‘Additional requirements’ page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For example, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re hearing impaired, you may need a Language Service Professional

Guaranteed interview scheme

HMRC operates a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS). Candidates who tick the GIS box will be invited to take the video interview if they meet the minimum standard at stage 1.

Please also remember to tick the GIS and/or Help Required boxes on your application form if you are applying under the GIS and/or seeking additional support.

Personal email address

We will email you throughout the recruitment process with updates and outcomes. We strongly recommend that you use your own personal email address as we will send emails with private information about your results.

Other Tax Professional posts in HMRC

Where candidates perform well in the application process but fall short of the required standard for the TSP, we may offer opportunities for Officer roles. If this is the case, you will be given more detail about potential roles and asked to register your interest towards the beginning of 2021.

The Tax Specialist Programme will start in September 2021.

Published 27 February 2013
Last updated 14 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Page updated for opening of applications for the 2021 programme.

  2. Added link to application page for the internship scheme.

  3. Republished on day that 2020 scheme opens for applications and includes updates to the process.

  4. Updated to reflect the application dates and new information for the 2019 graduate programme.

  5. Applications have now closed.

  6. Updated GIS information.

  7. Updated with this year's key dates and information.

  8. Amended to reflect that the current application process has now closed.

  9. Updated to reflect the application dates and new information for the 2017 programme.

  10. Added links to the Tax Specialist Programme (Graduate) 2016 and Internship Tax Specialist Programme 2016 on Civil Service Jobs.

  11. Amended application dates and added locations for the 2016 programme

  12. Amended application dates for the 2016 programme

  13. Updated to include details for the 2016 programme

  14. Added links to the How to Apply section

  15. Updated information on page for September 2014.

  16. Updates to reflect the Tax Specialist Programme (TSP), previously called TPDP, which forms part of the campaign to promote the 2015 Campaign.

  17. Added the line "The scheme will reopen for applications in September 2014".

  18. Added locations.

  19. Updated to include the closing date for applications of 29 November 2013

  20. Updated to include further information on the 2013/14 Programme

  21. Updated to include details for the 2014 programme

  22. First published.