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How Do I Become an Income Tax Preparer?

The Internal Revenue Service collects federal income tax in the US.
All W-2 forms should be brought to a tax preparer.
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  • Written By: Tess C. Taylor
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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Each year, individuals and businesses look to the services of income tax preparers to assist with processing income tax returns. Income tax preparation is perfect for anyone with strong mathematical skills, interpersonal skills and the ability to manage multiple tasks while working with people. If you are considering working in a tax or accounting firm and want to become an income tax preparer, there are many opportunities to get the training and skills in order to find opportunities in this profession.

In order to become an income tax preparer, you can get started by taking a free or low cost income tax preparation course. Courses that teach income tax preparation are offered by major income tax companies and schools both locally and on the Internet. Start checking for announcements on tax preparation courses late in the fall, several months before the annual tax season begins, for the best opportunities.

Once you have taken in-depth coursework and understand the fundamentals of income tax preparation, you can become an income tax preparer. It is not necessary to have a college degree in accounting in order to become employed, although it can help over the long run. A good many income tax preparation companies offer coursework which will lead to entry level jobs once the income tax prep course has been successfully completed to passing standards.

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In almost every community, there are nonprofit organizations that provide free or low cost tax preparation services to low-income and disabled residents. You can volunteer with an agency in your hometown and start working as a tax preparer in your spare time. This will give you additional experience and credibility as a tax preparation specialist, and it is a valuable way to give back to your community.

Another way to become a tax preparer is to prepare your own taxes for a couple of seasons. Once you are confident that you can prepare your taxes, whether it be for your personal or business purposes, you should be able to process them for others in your network. In order to protect yourself, be sure to get an official tax identification number, then offer to process taxes for family members and friends by using tax preparation software.

If you decide that you would like to become an income tax preparer on a full time basis for your own tax preparation business, you will be required to take a state licensing exam and obtain an official federal tax identification number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It may be a good idea for you to also take financial and tax courses through a college program or tax school. You may also decide to go on and obtain a certification in accounting or a degree in finance to excel in your new career.

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