How to Become a Tax Preparer

Becoming a tax preparer can be a rewarding career choice, offering the opportunity to help individuals and businesses navigate their financial obligations while ensuring compliance with tax laws. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to become a tax preparer.

Step 1: Understand the Role

Tax preparers assist clients in preparing and filing their tax returns. This involves understanding tax regulations, calculating tax liabilities, identifying deductions and credits, and ensuring accurate and timely submissions. They may work for accounting firms, operate independently, or offer services seasonally.

Step 2: Obtain the Necessary Education

While formal education is not always required, having a background in accounting, finance, or a related field can be highly beneficial. Consider the following educational paths:

  • Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree: In accounting, finance, or a related field.
  • Tax Preparation Courses: Offered by community colleges, professional organizations, and online platforms. These courses cover tax laws, tax return preparation, and the use of tax software.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Practical experience is crucial. Here are some ways to gain hands-on experience:

  • Internships: Seek internships with accounting firms or tax preparation companies.
  • Volunteer Work: Volunteer with organizations like the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which provides free tax help to people who need assistance in preparing their tax returns.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

Certification can enhance credibility and career prospects. Key certifications include:

  • IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN): Required to prepare tax returns for compensation.
  • Enrolled Agent (EA) Certification: Obtained by passing the IRS Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). EAs have unlimited practice rights and can represent taxpayers before the IRS.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): Requires passing the CPA exam and meeting state-specific education and experience requirements. CPAs have broad accounting and tax-related privileges.

Apply Accountsly