Tax Preparer

How to Become a Tax Preparer
Tax Preparer Job Details
Skills and Qualities of a Tax Preparer
Tax Preparer Salaries
Influential Professional Tax Preparers
Leading Tax Preparer Organizations
Top Cities for Tax Preparer Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Tax Preparer

Tax preparation has certainly become more complex since taxes first existed. Even as late as the Medieval Era, taxes weren't so much prepared as taken unscrupulously. These days though, the preparation of taxes is far more complex than ever before, and requires such meticulous attention to detail that the profession of "tax preparer" has become both a lucrative and secure career.

Becoming a tax preparer isn't quite as difficult as becoming a certified accountant, with whom tax preparers are sometimes confused. Tax preparers needn't take exams to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). The tests required to earn that certification are often a factor in one's decision to strive to become a tax preparer.

So what is involved? Those pursuing the career of tax preparation must earn their high school diploma, GED or equivalent. The next step is to take tax preparation classes, where students will learn the laws, regulations and procedures governing taxation. Though it's not required for tax preparers to attend a four-year school (quickly becoming five- and six-year schools), these classes are mandatory and necessary for future tax preparers to learn the basics.

Once those classes are completed, the prospective tax preparer must sign up to train with a company and complete a licensing test. Licenses typically require continuing education, not only to maintain the license but also to stay current with regulations and laws. After licensure and training is complete, one can enter the field as a tax preparer.

What does a Tax Preparer do?

Though tax preparers aren't CPAs, they still must have an in-depth understanding of all of the elements of preparing tax returns. After all, preparing tax returns is what they do. Tax preparers may work for individuals or small businesses. It's unlikely that tax preparers will work for large corporations, who usually seek CPAs to handle the preparation of their taxes, which are far more complex than those for small businesses and individuals.

However, that doesn't mean that every form is a 1040-EZ! Tax preparers apply their knowledge of tax regulations to individual situations that may involve mortgages, both personal and business related deductions and credits.

All in all, tax preparers provide peace of mind for taxpayers. Taxes have the general ability to make the average taxpayer quite nervous. Knowing that a professional tax preparer is preparing one's taxes is relieving. There is much less margin for error.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Tax Preparer?

As a tax preparer, you need a combination of three core skills. You need to be good with numbers and basic math such as arithmetic. You need strong customer service skills to provide a positive experience and instill in others trust in your abilities. Finally, you need a desire to continue learning. Because regulations are constantly able to change, you need to continue learning in order to keep up with the requirements of tax preparation.

Strong math skills are paramount. You are going to be combining these with basic organizational skills to logically compile tax information and present it on government sanctioned forms…in other words, you'll be preparing taxes. Even though you'll have an adding machine or calculator, having a good sense of numbers is important. While it's unlikely these machines will fail, there is always the possibility of human error; you might punch the wrong key. Being able to check your math manually is crucial.

As for customer service skills, your customers must be able to feel a connection to you. They must feel at ease, for taxes are usually quite personal. You must have integrity in that you'll honor their privacy. Your trustworthiness comes across to customers in the way you communicate with them and service their tax needs. If you haven't strong customer service skills, your customers won't trust your abilities or you as a professional individual.

Having a mind for learning is also crucial. If you're unable to keep up with changes in requirements and tax-related legislation and procedures, you're not going to be able to accurately complete the tasks with which you're faced. If tax returns cannot be accurately filed, you'll lose clients and possibly even your job.

How much do Tax Preparers make?

Salaries compiled in October of 2008 show tax preparers to make between a range of $31,085 - $57,100. Within this range, fifty percent make a median range of $41,747 to $52,224. A sample bi-weekly paycheck, less federal and state taxes as well as social security, might amount to $1,372.64 for tax preparers.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

One of the most influential professionals in the field of tax preparation is Henry W. Bloch, the co-founder and honorary Chairman of the Board of H&R Block, a nationally recognized tax preparation franchise. Harold M. Messmer Jr., the Chairman and CEO of Accountemps is another noteworthy professional in the field of tax preparation.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Leading organizations in the field of tax preparation include H&R Block Tax Services, Accountemps, MRI Network and Robert Half Finance & Accounting. Many of these organizations, such as H&R Block, exist in just about every state within the country, providing tax preparation services to individuals and small business owners alike. When not in tax season, these organizations provide to their clients tax advice and guidance.

What are the top cities for Tax Preparer jobs?

New York City is the top city for searching for tax preparation jobs. This likely has to do with the density of the population and presence of businesses, including hundreds of small shops, boutiques and companies. Other cities of note for those seeking jobs in the field of tax preparation include Arlington, Houston, Appleton and White Plains. However, because of the universal demand for tax preparers, those seeking jobs needn't be hemmed in by location. After all, H&R Block franchises can be found in almost every major city throughout the country, which means that for those who have a destination in mind, there shouldn't be much difficulty finding a job market in this field.

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