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Tax preparers are often employed by tax preparation companies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt during tax season. However, some tax preparers work on their own and provide tax preparation services to individuals. Tax preparers must be detail-oriented professionals who have an extensive knowledge of the various tax forms and types of deductions that can be made. Although tax preparation services are typically provided during the first part of the year, those who have education and experience in similar fields like accounting can have a successful career as a self-employed professional.
Complete your high school education or obtain your GED. This is the minimum education requirement needed before you take tax preparation courses or pursue post-secondary education to become a tax preparer.
Take tax preparation classes offered by companies like H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt or Liberty Tax Services. These courses will often prepare you to work as a tax preparation specialist in just a week or a few weeks at most. The courses are often offered for free with the understanding that you will be employed with the company during the upcoming tax season. Taking tax preparation courses and working for someone else for one tax season is a fair trade-off for free tax preparation education. For some of these courses, the only cost you will incur is purchasing the textbook.
Take additional courses through the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS offers basic, intermediate and advanced tax preparation courses. These courses can be accessed online through the IRS website, irs.gov, and will provide you with further knowledge of tax preparation and legal matters.
Obtain post-secondary education in accounting. At the undergraduate level, an associate or bachelor's degree in accounting can further prepare you for a career as a self-employed preparer. Because of the seasonal nature of the tax preparation business, you may need to supplement your income by providing additional accounting and bookkeeping services for clients. A degree in business management with an emphasis in accounting is another route that will be helpful. A business management degree will provide you with much of the essential education needed to start and run your own business.
Set up your business and begin offering tax preparation services. You will be in competition with those companies that provided you the initial free training, so you will need to have some business and marketing savvy to get your business off and running. Advertise your services in every media that you can think of, such as newspapers, online classified advertisements and radio. Networking with other business professionals can also be key to your business' success.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.