How to Become a Tax Preparer

Taxes aren’t easy to do year in and year out. Many people opt to hire a tax preparer to do all of the dirty work for them so that they’re free to do other things. If you like working with numbers though and would like to earn extra income every year when tax season rolls around, consider becoming a tax preparer. Tax preparation isn’t really a full time job, so you can’t expect to quit your regular job to prepare taxes every March and April, but you can stand to make a few thousand dollars if you play your cards right.

Loosen has outlined the steps you need to follow to become a tax preparer in your state. This article won’t follow the traditional numbered steps you may be used to. Because becoming a tax preparer is very different from other careers, we’re going to skip the numbered system and use just plain paragraph form to get it all across.

The ultimate goal out of anything you do in preparation to become a tax preparer is to gain enough experience and training to actually help people with their taxes. Some states require licensing while others do not. To get the ball rolling on your tax preparation career, there are two different training options you can consider.

Training courses are offered at many different locations and it’s important that you pick the right tax preparation courses to not only fulfill your educational needs, but also fit in your schedule. Many of the tax preparation companies around the country (think H&R Block) offer free courses every year to people wanting to start their own tax preparation businesses. The alternative to classroom teaching is to do all of your training online.

If you elect to go through a tax preparation company for your training, here’s how it’ll work. The programs generally last between nine and twelve weeks and will give you all of the know-how you need to prepare taxes. They’ll tell you what software to buy and how to use it, as well as give you some pointers for heading out on your own. Why do they do this all for free? At the end of the courses one of two things will happen.

They will either ask you to join their team full time to make money during tax season, or they’ll present the option of purchasing a franchise from them. Tax preparers are always in short supply, so the more people they can hire on, the better. You can of course decline on both counts and walk away with a free education, which is what many people choose to do.

The other option is to do online classes. Online classes are very different from traditional courses, but they offer a lot more freedom. Classroom instruction usually begins later in the year around September or October, whereas with online classes you’re free to start and stop whenever you want. Starting earlier means you have more time to prepare for the March or April tax season. Online classes usually cost about $500 to complete.

With training under your belt, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want. You can apply to work at companies like H&R Block, or you can work freely. We recommend practicing on your own tax forms and documents before offering services to others. Some states require that you become licensed before you can practice tax preparation legally in your state.

Contact the IRS to see what’s involved with getting a license in your state. Or if it’s your first year doing tax preparation, contact a local tax preparer and ask what’s involved with working for them. It’s a good way to get your license from them and gain experience at the same time.

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