How To Become A Tax Preparer In 4 Steps
A tax preparer plays a critical role in helping individuals and businesses maximize their deductions and file their taxes. Some tax preparers are licensed by the IRS, while others are certified public accountants or gain other certifications. In this article, we discuss the different kinds of tax preparers, how to become a tax preparer and offer answers to frequently asked questions about the role.
How Do I Keep Up With New Tax Law Changes
Keeping up with tax law changes is imperative for both new and experienced preparers. As a result, most preparers invest some time each day checking on any IRS changes, technical corrections, or any other state or local changes that might impact their business.
An excellent first stop is the IRS website, which is full of publications and instructions that will help new and experienced preparers navigate changes to the tax code, as well as commonly asked questions and other useful tips.Checkpoint Edge from Thomson Reuters is another resource for tax professionals who are looking to do their jobs with more accuracy, confidence, and daily news updates. Checkpoint Edge provides you with up-to-date research materials, editorial insight, productivity tools, online learning, and marketing resources that add value to your firm immediately.
Alternatively, if youre on a tight budget, a few well-chosen tax books may be sufficient to begin with.
“Understand that you cannot possibly know every tax law ever written, especially in times of sweeping tax law changes as we are experiencing today. Make yourself valuable by honing your tax research skills. If you don’t know the answer, you must know how to find the answer.”
How To Get My Tax Preparer’s License
Contrary to common belief, only two states in the U.S. require tax preparers to be licensed. With the exception of Oregon and California, a person is not required to be individually licensed to receive a fee for income tax preparation services. However, many states have business license requirements.
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How To Become A Tax Preparer
Ever wondered how to become a tax preparer? Believe it or not, its probably more within your reach than you think. The first step is to complete a tax preparation course. In fact, at H& R Block we offer a program called the Income Tax Course, a hands-on program that teaches people of every walk of life the ropes of accounting and tax preparation. Without further ado, here are 10 questions and answers about the course. Within the text you can learn how to become a tax preparer Read on now!
1 What is the H& R Block ITC?
The H& R Block Income Tax Course will provide learners with knowledge and ability to complete basic tax returns and potentially succeed as a tax professional. Think of it as an educational boot camp for taxes Students will learn about a range of tax and financial topics, including how to prepare personal and business tax returns. The course focuses on the following areas:
- Tax theory
- Current tax laws and filing practices
- Step-by-step skills to prepare tax returns
- Client communication skills and techniques
2 What is the time commitment for ITC?
The H& R Block Income Tax Course consists of 60 hours of comprehensive tax topics.
3 Do people need to have basic knowledge of taxes and accounting to take the course?
No! People who take the ITC come from a range of backgrounds and levels of knowledge.
4 Whats the format of ITC?
- Interactive, professional discussions
- Hands-on experience with the latest tax software
- Real-world tax preparation exercises
What Software Do Tax Preparers Use
Thomson Reuters UltraTax CS is a leading professional tax preparation software that automates your entire business whether for individual tax preparation or business clients.
Filled with powerful time-saving tools and features, UltraTax CS gives preparers access to federal, state, and local tax programs including individual, corporate, partnership, estates and trusts, multi-state returns, and many others.
UltraTax CS also offers seamless integration with other Thomson Reuters solutions, including CS Professional Suite and Onvio Firm Management, connecting your entire practice and ensuring that youll never lose time doing a task manually.
From cloud computing to advanced data sharing and paperless processing, UltraTax CS meets all your tax workflow needs with a customizable, end-to-end solution.
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Approved and Effective 10/11/17
What Is An Electronic Filing Identification Number
An electronic filing identification number is a number assigned by the IRS to preparers who are approved for the federal and state e-file program.
Once issued, an EFIN does not expire. However, if you change your Employer Identification Number or the name of your firm, you will have to either get a new one or update it through the online portal.
Its important to note: everybody who prepares taxes needs a PTIN. However, only your firm needs an EFIN. One per firm or per physical location is usually required.
To put even more simply: you need a PTIN to prepare and an EFIN to e-file.
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How Do You Get A Ptin
This process begins on the IRS website and requires annual renewal. However, there is no fee for either the initial registration process or the renewal.Once a PTIN is issued, the tax preparer is required to put this on every single return they prepare. In general, the IRS website includes many helpful solutions and other tips for people beginning this process.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Tax Preparer
The simplest answer to this is: in the time it takes to apply for and receive a PTIN and an EFIN.
However, how long it takes to become a seasoned tax preparer is perhaps the more correct question to ask, as the ability to make money and build a career is dependent upon a certain amount of experience and skill.
In most cases, it takes about two seasons to learn the basics of tax preparation. Whether you plan on starting at a firm or becoming a sole practitioner, the career progression looks similar. In the first year, most new preparers will focus on raw data entry. The second year brings a little more autonomy. By the third year, youre armed with the necessary experience and skills to work as a full-fledged staff preparer.
After the initial period of seasoning, it takes about five years to learn the nuances and niche areas of your clients and your practice. In that time, you gain expertise that differentiates you as a tax preparer and allows you to set yourself apart in the market.
“We find the people who have done some write-up have the easiest transition to tax prep. We start them out entering W2s and 1099s into UltraTax CS, and then transition to Schedule C and F, etc. We have them print out the organizer, and enter the info on it before they enter it into UltraTax CS. It makes it easier for us to review the return, and see where they may have gone wrong, and go over the return with them to point those things out.”
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What Does A Tax Preparer Need To Prepare Tax Returns
Tax preparers need to efficiently and securely access and manage confidential information for their clients. As a result, most preparers look for software to manage their workflow effectively and efficiently.
Tax software should help preparers in the following ways:
- Learn. You cant know everything. There will always be knowledge gaps and questions from clients that you didnt anticipate. Professional tax software should increase your know-how, the ability to fill knowledge gaps with trusted and meaningful information for your daily work. Something to unstuck you when you dont know how to proceed.
- Research. Every client is different. And that means every answer you provide will need to be tailored to their specific questions and concerns. A tax research software solution can help get the answers when you need to go deeper and retrieve more information.
- Operate. Tax preparation requires a significant amount of day-to-day organization. You need tools to do the work and produce all the necessary forms. From document management solutions to e-filing assistance, tax software should make your operational duties easier, more productive, to do your job with confidence every time.
Other Points To Consider
- Avoid those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers or those who “guarantee” results.
- Avoid those who base their fees on a percentage of the amount of your refund.
- Choose someone you can reach after the return is filed and who is responsive to your needs.
- Remember that e-filed returns are usually processed faster than returns that are mailed. E-filed returns are still subject to review, and you should rely on Treasury for the time frames for processing returns, not the preparer.
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Gain Flexibility Job Security & No Cap On Your Income As A Tax Preparer
Theres currently a shortage of qualified tax preparers. Plus, taxes arent going away any time soon. The combo makes a career in tax a very attractive option!
Things you dont need
- You dont need to be a CPA
- You dont need to know accounting or high level math
- You dont need a college degree
- You dont need prior tax knowledge
Tax preparer benefits
- A recession-proof career with no cap on income
- A flexible work schedule
- The possibility to work from home
- A professional, marketable skill
- Knowledge that enables you to save on your own taxes
Oregon Tax Preparer Licensing Process
Make sure you meet the Oregon age and general education requirements. You must be at least 18 to apply for a tax preparer license in Oregon. You must also be a high school graduate or have obtained a General Education Diploma or other high school equivalency certificate. If you need to obtain a GED, find a testing center in your area, take the necessary course and pass the required examination.
Enroll in a state-approved tax school. Oregon law requires tax preparer applicants to complete 80 hours of income tax law training. Contact the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners for a list of courses and state-approved training facilities .
Pass the Oregon tax preparer test. After you’ve completed 80 hours of training, contact the Board of Tax Practitioners and register for the state examination. You must pass the state test with a minimum score of 75 percent. Prepare thoroughly before taking the examination.
Complete your application. After you’ve completed your training and passed your state test, obtain a copy of the tax preparer license application from the Board of Tax Practitioners . Complete each section carefully. Attach educational documents, including a copy of your high school diploma or GED, training course certificate and proof you passed the state examination. Send your application to the licensing board. Expect to receive your license in 30 to 60 days.
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Choosing A Tax Preparer Who Is Right For You
If you choose to use a paid tax preparer, it is important that you find a qualified professional. Even if someone else prepares your return, you are still responsible for the content and for any additional payments, penalty and interest that may result from an error.
Michigan does not require tax preparers to be licensed. However, many are licensed and certified, belonging to professional organizations that require a certain level of education and provide on-going training. Unqualified tax preparers may overlook legitimate deductions and/or credits, which could result in you paying more tax than you should. Services vary from preparer to preparer, so you will want to find one who offers the services you need.
Who Must Complete Requirements
If you meet New York States definition of a commercial tax return preparer, you have New York State continuing education requirements. These requirements may not be satisfied with either CPE or CLE credits. You can see Who is a tax return preparer or facilitator to determine whether you meet the states definition.
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First Check Things Out
Asking questions is worth the time it takes to make sure you are hiring someone with the skill level you need to prepare your taxes at a price you can afford. The following are suggested questions to ask before you engage the services of a tax preparer:
- What kind of formal tax training do you have?
- Do you hold any professional licenses or designations, such as certified public accountant , enrolled agent , registered accounting practitioner , accredited tax advisor , or accredited tax preparer ?
- Do you take continuing professional education classes each year? How many hours do you take?
- How long have you been preparing taxes?
- Have you ever done a tax return dealing with my situation?
- How much do you charge and how do you determine your fee?
- Are you open year-round to assist me with any problems I may have later?
- Do you offer e-filing as a service?
- Are you authorized to and will you represent me in an audit or collection matter with the IRS or the Michigan Department of Treasury should the situation come up?
- How do you stand behind your work?
- Can you provide me with the names of references I can contact about the quality of your work? Think about checking with the Better Business Bureau in your area for complaints about the services provided by the preparer.
- If the refund is direct deposited, is it deposited into my account or into an account owned by you and/or your company?
How To Become A Tax Preparer In Virginia
There are two things in life that are certain–death and taxes. If you are looking to work in a field where there will always be work and you don’t want to become a funeral director, consider starting a career in tax preparation. Each year hundreds of thousands of people are required to file tax returns, and many of them choose to have their taxes prepared by a professional. Preparing taxes is a great way to earn some extra income and meet some very interesting people. Find out how to get started preparing taxes in Virginia.
Learn to prepare taxes. Knowledge is crucial to becoming a successful tax preparer, and there are many places in Virginia where you can learn to prepare taxes. Tax service businesses, such as Jackson Hewitt or H& R Block, offer tax training during off months. You can also take tax classes at schools such as the Tidewater Community College and Virgina State University. Although it is not required, some institutions offer a certificate of completion to students who finish the tax course. The cost to take these classes can range anywhere from free tuition to several hundred dollars per class depending on where you enroll, so it is very important to choose the right class for you.
If you plan on starting up your own tax service business, it is a good idea to purchase business insurance to protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit.
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Training To Be A Tax Preparer
Training options for tax preparers vary by the type of tax preparation work that you plan to do. Many tax preparation services offer training programs, as do some vocational schools. If you plan to work as a volunteer federal tax preparer, you can take training through the IRS Link and Learn program. Some preparers must complete continuing education courses as a condition of renewing their PTIN.
For-profit tax preparer organizations, including H and R Block, offer training courses that generally begin in the fall so you’ll be ready by tax season. COVID-19 has opened up opportunities for online learning as well. H and R Block’s program is a free IRS tax preparation course, although you will have to pay for your study materials. H and R Block does not guarantee employment however, successful completion of the course and final exam can lead to a job offer from the company.
Access To Personal Information
Upon request TaxSlayer Pro will provide you with information about whether we hold any of your personal information. Personal Information is accessible online through October 20 of the year in which the return is filed. You may view, delete and/or make changes to your personal information by visiting your account online at https://www.taxslayerpro.com and selecting “”Edit Account Information” or by emailing our Customer Support at or by contacting us by telephone or postal mail at the contact information listed below. Any return e-filed through TaxSlayer Pro will be available only in PDF format . We will respond to your request to access within a reasonable timeframe.
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Obtain A Tax Preparation License In Your State
Some states may require that you take extra steps to become a tax preparer. If you receive a PTIN, but you’re a resident in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, New York or Oregon, then youll need to get a state’s license to be a tax preparer.
California residents need to take 20 hours of continuing education each year, and Connecticut residents need to get a permit through the state’s Department of Revenue Services every two years. Always check with the state where you plan to work for the most up-to-date requirements.