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Everything You Need to Know to Become a Tax Preparer

Most people dread tax season, but not you. You’re always eager to learn more about the inner workings of taxes, which is why you think a career as a tax preparer suits you.

Here’s how to become a tax preparer:

  • Have at least a high school diploma
  • Enroll in a college program
  • Get your PTIN and EFIN
  • Register in your state
  • Pursue a certification at a state and federal level
  • Gain related experience

In this guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps to becoming a tax preparer so you can begin your exciting new career.

How to Become a Tax Preparer

Since income taxes are consistently due in April, tax preparers will always be in demand year after year. Here are some general steps to follow to begin the next stage of your career.

Graduate with a High School Diploma

What is the required education to be a tax preparer?

To enter the tax field, you can begin with a GED or high school diploma. Though, the more education you have, the better your resume will be. By furthering your education, you’ll open the door to ample opportunities and find the transition into your role to be smooth.

Enroll in a College Program

Next, we recommend enrolling in a college or university.

During your studies, you will learn many critical skills that hiring managers are looking for in a tax preparer. You will be well-equipped to succeed.

The skills that you collect during your program include presenting and speaking, law and ethics, digital marketing, communications, critical thinking, business analytics, leadership, business management, and taxation.

Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number

There are several paths you may choose to take. You can either run your own tax business or work as a part of a company by creating your Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN.

The Internal Revenue Service or IRS issues PTINs to tax preparers so they can legally file tax returns for clients and receive payment for doing so.

To apply for your PTIN, you’ll have to complete form W-12. You can either print and complete a paper form and mail it to the IRS or submit one online.

Then you’ll receive a link to set up your PTIN account. You will then add information such as your jurisdiction of issuance, certification number, business name and contact info, personal name and contact info, and your social security number.

You will also have to provide your own tax return from the year prior, including your filing status, address, and name in the documentation.

Once all information is provided, you’ll receive your unique PTIN.

Apply for your Electronic Filing Identification Number

Over time, it’s become more common to file tax returns electronically. If that’s something you plan to do as a tax preparer, then you need more than a PTIN.

You will also be required to obtain an Electronic Filing Identification Number or EFIN.

You can register your EFIN through the IRS website. If the IRS doesn’t already have your fingerprints on file, then you will be required to do that before your EFIN is issued to you.

From start to finish, the EFIN process is about 45 days long.

Get Registered (If Your State Requires It)

Throughout the United States, some states require aspiring tax preparers to pay a fee to register before they can begin practicing in that state. Other states do not have these laws.

Fortunately, the states that do require you to register are few and far between. They are Ohio, New York, Maryland, Iowa, Connecticut, and California.

Gain On-the-Job Experience

Now that you’ve taken all the steps to become a tax preparer, the only thing left is to begin applying for jobs or internships to gain relevant experience.

The more experience you have to showcase on your resume, the easier it will be to get hired or build a client base of loyal customers who will return to your tax service year after year. Maybe they’ll even refer some friends, family, or colleagues!

What’s it Like to Be a Tax Preparer?

Before you pursue the road to working as a tax preparer, you’re interested in learning the day-to-day of the job.

What does a Tax Preparer Earn?

 Tax preparers earn an average salary anywhere from $40,000-$60,000 a year!

Your Busy Season Depends on the Time of Year

For several months of the year, you’re quite busy.

This usually lasts from the beginning of January until the end of April.

That momentum will carry you through until the tax deadline comes and goes in April. Then you’ll be busy for much of the rest of the month tying up any loose ends.

At least your busy season isn’t during the spring or summer so you can maybe take a much-needed vacation!

Tax Preparers Work in Various Fields

Tax preparers work all year long. This can range from individual taxes to basic commercial taxes.

You even have the ability to work in forensic accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, retirement planning, investments, and/or business counseling.

You Need to Stay Current on Tax Codes

Tax codes and other laws don’t change all that often, but when they do, you need to be completely well-versed on what those changes are long before they go into effect.

Tax preparers take a three-day course every three years to continue their education, keeping them up to date on all tax codes.

You must expect that your clients are going to have questions. You should be ready to address everyone’s questions and concerns to put them at ease to guide them through tax time.

You Might Run into Clients with Difficult Tax Situations

Most people work in a corporate office and receive paychecks every two weeks. Those kinds of tax filing situations are easy.

Those who are self-employed, have multiple freelance jobs, support themselves via several side gigs, or have other unconventional jobs are where tax time can become a bit more to handle.

Is Being a Tax Preparer Worth It?

Is being a tax preparer worth your while? For many people, it can be, and here are some reasons why.

You Know You’re Helping People Where It Counts

No one gets past Uncle Sam, yet taxes are confusing and thus a dreaded thing for most people.

You can be the friendly, knowledgeable, helpful presence who steps in every January through April and navigates this time for your clients.

You’ll reduce their stress so they can enjoy their lives.

You Help Clients Save Money

One of the best parts of being a tax preparer is finding deductions for your clients that they didn’t even know about. Perhaps you help them earn a decent tax refund.

Either way, knowing that you’re putting some money into the pockets of your clients is a great feeling.

You Can Save on Your Own Taxes

Being a tax expert, there’s almost no tax challenge that can bring you down. This makes it a lot easier to file your taxes and ensures you get the max deductions.

Plus, you can self-file, saving you both time and money.

How to Become a Tax Preparer Online

If you’re looking for an online university to enroll in so you can get on the road to working as a tax preparer, choose Bryan University.

Bryan U’s Associate Degree in Accounting program will teach you the basics of taxes and accounting. You can work as a tax preparer as well as a payroll clerk, bookkeeper, billing clerk, accounting assistant, or accounts receivable clerk.

If you’re not working for yourself, you could get hired in sectors such as retail, service, non-profit, production and manufacturing, insurance and finance, business consulting, and government.

As a student in the Associate Degree in Accounting program at Bryan University, your tuition will include the cost of all courseware and books.

You can also test for two certifications without having to pay an additional fee (for the first exam); the Microsoft Excel Associate certification and the National Association of Certified Bookkeepers certification in QuickBooks, Tax, Accounting, or Bookkeeper.

Continue your education by enrolling in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting.

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