How to Become a Tax Preparer

Every year around tax time many individuals fret about correctly filing their federal and state taxes. Tax preparers are professionals who provide assistance on tax returns for individuals and small organizations. Tax preparers often work for tax preparation companies, accounting firms, and law firms.

What does a tax preparer do?

Tax preparers work to calculate the amount of taxes to determine if clients are eligible for a refund or if additional taxes are due to the government. They interview clients to obtain helpful information regarding income, deductions, adjustments, expenses and credits and complete various forms using tax tables and specific instructions. They also review financial documents including previous tax returns, income statements and expenditure documents to prepare tax returns.

Tax preparers often use computers with accounting, spreadsheet, and tax preparation software to assist with their tasks. They also refer to tax law handbooks to prepare uncommon returns and conduct research on tax problems.

Some tax preparers work year-round, but many are hired as seasonal employees for the tax season and work January through April.

What kind of training does a tax preparer need?

Tax preparers must have at least a high school diploma and most employers require the completion of a tax preparation course. Independent tax schools, national tax preparation companies, and online companies offer tax preparer courses. These courses provide instruction on tax codes and laws and how to use a variety of forms, schedules, and worksheets. Click here for online tax preparation classes.

Some employers seek individuals with a college degree in business-related field such as accounting. Others such as tax preparation companies offer on-the-job training to new employees.

Tax preparers must have a working knowledge of current state and federal tax codes and must receive ongoing training. Click here for continuing education courses.

What are the prospects for a career as a tax preparer?

Employment growth of tax preparers is projected to increase slower than average for all profession from 2008 to 2018 (1). However, the constantly growing population and increased demand for tax preparation services as tax returns become more complex will create some job growth. Tax preparers with formal training and extensive work experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do tax preparers make?

As of March 2011, the average annual salary for tax preparers with less than one year experience is between $20,347 and $48,396 and between $30,612 and $49,938 for those with one to four years experience (2). Average annual salaries for tax preparers vary greatly on location, and employer.

Tax preparers provide valuable tax assistance to various clients to effectively and efficiently prepare tax returns. They work to ensure tax returns are accurate and complete and help clients receive the most possible refund. A career as a tax preparer is an ideal choice for individuals that have an aptitude for working with numbers and familiarity with computer software. Tax preparers must be able to work quickly and accurately under pressure to meet strict tax deadlines.

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