How to Become a Professional Tax Preparer

Preparing and filing tax returns is something that many people find so difficult to do. With the process becoming more and more complicated and rules constantly changing, it’s no wonder why many are choosing to just hire someone, who is knowledgeable in the field, to handle their tax needs. Tax preparers are professionals who help individuals and businesses prepare their taxes during tax season.

How to Become a Professional Tax Preparer

If you’re a student looking for a great career to pursue, then becoming a tax preparer can be a good option for you. Aside from the rewarding pay, you’ll also enjoy life-long job security as people are required to file taxes every year regardless of the state of our economy. Read on to learn about the education and certification requirements for starting a career in tax preparation.

Education Requirements

There is no strict formal education required to become a tax preparer. Most tax preparers only have a high school diploma or GED and receive on-the-job training. However, some companies require experienced tax preparers with a bachelor’s degree related in accounting or finance. Some positions will also require you to complete a course related in the field to qualify for licensing and employment.

Many community colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree and certification courses for aspiring tax preparers. Even tax preparation companies and the IRS provide training programs to help students learn about taxes and qualify for entry-level positions. Training programs typically cover topics about tax preparation, tax schedules, client interviews, and refund calculation. Advanced courses may cover subjects like payroll taxes, estate taxes, investments, and tax-paying and saving strategies.

Certification Requirements

After you completed the necessary education, you are required to register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and obtain your Practitioner Tax Identification Number (PTIN). In addition, you have to pass a written exam and complete at least 15 hours of continuing education annually. Requirements for the exam may vary by state, so check your state’s tax board for details.

Career Overview

Once you’ve completed your education and acquired your license, you can then seek employment at any tax preparation company. However, since you’re just starting out, odds are you’ll be applying for entry-level positions. Basic duties will include assisting tax professionals in handling taxation matters, answering clients’ questions, preparing and organizing documents, and performing some clerical duties, such as managing schedules, answering emails, and taking phone calls.

Working as an entry-level preparer will give you an opportunity to explore many things and learn how the process works. However, you may want to level-up by attending higher courses and becoming a licensed accountant or tax attorney. This will mean additional expense and work-study hours to you, but the rewards are great.

Once you’ve gained more experience and education, it will be much easier for you to advance to a higher position with higher pay and responsibilities. You can, in fact, even start your own tax preparation company and hire other tax preparers to work for you! Just be sure to continue attending training or refresher courses to improve your knowledge and keep up with the ever-changing rules and regulations of the IRS.

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