A tax preparer is someone who usually prepares personal and small business taxes. The busiest time of year for a tax preparer is from January 1 through October 1, as this is the tax season in the United States. Individuals working for large tax preparation companies have to meet requirements specific to those companies.
A high school diploma or GED (General Equivalency Exam) is required. Many tax preparation companies require a two year degree in a related field. Taking a tax preparation course is mandatory. Passing the course and the Tax Preparer Readiness Test is another requirement.
Tax preparers must continually update their knowledge of the U.S. tax code. They must be proficient in federal tax law. In depth knowledge of state and local tax law is a must. In order to keep up with the changes, tax preparers are constantly updating their skills through taking courses and reading current tax codes.
Tax Preparer Skills
A person interested in a career as a tax preparer must possess good communication skills. It is imperative that the preparer communicate successfully with clients and management. Breaking down complex tax codes into terms that non-tax professionals can understand is challenging. Working simultaneously with multiple clients is another challenge for the tax preparer.
The tax preparer is detail oriented. This job entails paging through client financial records in order to provide the best service possible. A tax preparer should attempt to have the client pay the least amount of taxes legally possible. If the client is due a refund, then it is the preparer’s responsibility to get the largest refund possible for the client. A tax preparer should be extremely trustworthy. They examine client’s financial records and have access to sensitive personal information including Social Security Numbers.
Tax preparers work long hours during tax season, especially as the April deadline approaches. Expect to put in very long hours and overtime. Expect to have flexible hours.
Computer knowledge is required. Most taxes are filed electronically and even those that are mailed in are prepared with the use of computer software. A tax preparer should know how to use a Windows based computer. This includes knowing how to save and print a file and how to transfer data over the internet for tax filing purposes.
A tax preparer should greet clients in a warm and friendly manner. They are expected to conduct an in-depth interview with the client in order to completely understand the client’s tax position. A professional appearance is a must. This includes a neat workplace and proper business attire.
The tax preparer should explain all of the company’s services and products to the client. If the preparer is working for a large tax preparation company, they will be required to explain services such as refund loans and audit protection services.
All tax forms must be audited prior to submission. It is the tax preparer’s responsibility to make sure all forms are signed, W-2 forms are submitted, and other required paperwork is signed and submitted.
Questions pertaining to complex tax issues must be resolved. This may include contacting the IRS directly for answers or requesting help of senior tax preparers when the situation arises.
There are always employment opportunities in this field. Spending money to take a tax preparation course is a good investment. For those looking for a second job, working as a freelance tax preparer is a great way to bring in extra income during tax season.
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service: Tax Preparer Job Description