When tax season rolls around, many people choose to have their taxes prepared for them. Becoming a professional tax preparer can make a great career for people who are good with numbers and have a basic understanding of the tax system in this country. Here is what you need to know to become a tax preparer:
Know the facts.
First, it’s important to determine if you are looking for a part-time job or a full-time career. This will establish the foundation you’ll need, whether a simple tax course or a four year degree. While not every state requires its tax professionals to be licensed, if you are serious about pursuing a career then make licensure a priority. Check your state to be certain of this requirement.
Investigate educational opportunities.
Research options for classes in tax preparation. Many of the tax service franchises (such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewlett) offer these classes to their employees. Be prepared to pay for books or additional fees up front. Many universities and colleges also offer courses, in addition to online classes if that is more convenient. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, though not required for many positions, is an asset to entering the finance market.
Practice makes perfect.
Do your own taxes and those of your friends and family to familiarize yourself with different situations. Know someone who owns a small business? Ask if they need someone to help file their quarterly or yearly taxes – this type of experience is very valuable. If you are hesitant about diving into this, try using tax preparation software the first time.
Get the timing right.
If you do not have a degree or prior accounting experience, a good time to look for a job with a tax preparation company is the summer before you need employment. You will need time to complete all necessary courses and licensure requirements. If you are experienced, many times you will be able to test out of these classes for employment with tax preparation franchises.
Grow your career.
If you consider this a full-time career rather than a seasonal job for extra money, consider opening your own accounting or tax preparation firm. Not an entrepreneur? Consider applying for a position with the IRS. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree that includes 30 hours of accounting or have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate to qualify as an Internal Revenue Agent.
Whether changing careers to become a tax preparer full-time, or just earning a little extra money this spring, there are plenty of resources available to help you. Putting a little work in beforehand by investigating educational opportunities and researching requirements of tax companies will help you decide what direction to head with your new career goal.