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Become a Tax Preparer for Employment

Updated on November 10, 2013

Well, some potential. Like all things in life, there is no easy fix to unemployment or adding new skills to increase job potential.

Becoming a tax preparer varies from state to state, in California, you must take a 60 hr. course, pass it. The course can be taken online and prices range from $100-200, at your own pace. All exams are open book, so failure is hard to do. The courses are all the same, whether you take it from HR Block or Liberty, the differences is in price. Either of those are usually $250-300 in cost. They all teach the same things, that is, all the basic nuances of tax law as related to filling out tax forms.

As you go through the course, you will no doubt see how many confusing or ways around various tax procedures. The courses cover it all in over 300 pages. There is NO way you will ever recall it, which is why most tax preparers conduct an interview to assess you tax situation and how complicated it may be. Very simple ones might be able to be done with the client sitting in front of you, but when research is required, that is unlikely.

Once you pass the course, you must then pay for a PTIN number from the IRS and obtain a $5,000 bond. Total cost for both combined is about $90. Okay, now you are ready to work as a tax preparer.

The problem is... the usual...that, is, the only experience you may have is when you did your own taxes. So, no problem you think. With tax season arriving soon, tax preparers will be in demand. The real downside of this job is that every return you do must be kept for four years and if reporting is wrong and your error, you are liable for the amount is question. There are also hefty fines.

How much do they make?

Usually, those with little experience, event hose trained by HR Block or Liberty earn only $10 hr. and maybe 5% of the tax return prepared. The more complicated ones reap more percentage, maybe 10%. But as a newbie, you will not get these. At most, the job is part-time during tax season with weekends heavy.

Another downside is that if you did not take your course through a tax preparing company, such as, Liberty, you may not get hired by them because you did not pay for their school, even though the material is the same. Liberty and HR Block tend to hire only ones who went through their school UNLESS you do have good experience already, or, their need forces them to hire those who took the courses elsewhere. Most will hire 5-10 students from a class.

It IS a racket, and in return, may prove to be a dead end for a job hunter. As a tax preparer, you will only get the most basic cases to work on. These are ones where you can complete in an hour, like the 1040EZ, or simple 1040.

Being a tax preparer is public relations and if you are not a good PR person, or are nervous about working in front of a client, it might not be for you. BTW, the person who stands outside with a display getting your attention about tax income services is also earning $10 hr.

Go figure.


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