You may be looking to get into the tax preparation business simply as a side project to bring in some extra cash or just because you’re tired of paying out huge sums of money to a tax preparation firm to fill out a few numbers on some forms for you. Both have their advantages. But whatever your motive, this quick guide should be able to help you get started on the right track no matter what you’re looking to do. The process is all the same and the ultimate goal is to get a tax preparation license.
1. First off, there are two approaches to getting the license. The unavoidable truth to the matter is that you’re going to have to “go back to school” in some way. If you have a full time job and don’t have the time to sit in a class-room for a few hours every day then your best bet is to take classes online from an accredited program. Remember that tax preparation classes are not part of four year universities and don’t yield a degree. They’re just there to give you the knowledge, and whether you do something with it or not is up to you. Obviously, the other choice is to sit in a classroom setting every day. Whatever works for you is what you should go with.
2. Once you’ve got a bit of knowledge under your belt, practice doing your own taxes according to the “by-the-book” methodology. Once you’ve got it down and have the swing of things, local tax offices are usually more than welcoming when it’s tax season to have others come in and help them do taxes. They’ll appreciate the help and will probably pay you for your time.
3. The last step once you think you’ve had enough experience is to take a licensing exam. The exams can be found online and depending on the state you live in, you may not even have to take it. Once you complete the exam and receive your license, you’re now legally allowed to prepare taxes.
4. If you’re looking to make a career of tax preparation, repeating step 2 can’t hurt and if they like your work, they may hire you on full time. Make sure that if you continue to work as a tax preparer, freelance or not, that you’re covered under your employee’s insurance plan so that should something ever go wrong, you can’t be sued.