A Guide on How to Become a Certified Tax Preparer


As Benjamin Franklin said, “…nothing is certain but death and taxes.” From people to organizations to corporations, taxes are an unavoidable part of life.

Why not take advantage of this certainty by training to become a tax preparer? You can make a solid living off of doing other people’s taxes if you know what you’re doing. Sound intriguing? Read on to learn how to become a certified tax preparer.

A Guide on How to Become a Certified Tax Preparer

Understand the Tax Preparer Credentials

Before we discuss what you need to do to become a tax preparer, you should understand the different options there are. Not just anyone can say they are certified to prepare taxes; instead, you need to have certain qualifications and knowledge to be authorized by the IRS to do this.

At the most basic level, you can take a suitability exam and receive a preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

Enrolled agents are licensed by the IRS to prepare taxes. To become an enrolled agent, you must pass a three-part Special Enrollment Exam that demonstrates your knowledge in federal tax planning, tax return preparation, and representation.

Certified public accountants (CPAs) have state licenses and have passed the CPA exam. They can offer services other than tax preparation as well.

Attorneys have law degrees but can also specialize in tax preparation and planning.

One of the big differences between these roles is representation rights. This means that you can represent the clients in any appeals or collection issues with the IRS.

Where to Start

Depending on what type of professional you are and what you want your role to be, you will likely start with a tax preparer certification course, such as the ones offered at https://universalaccountingschool.com/professional-tax-preparer-certification/.

A tax preparation course will teach you the foundations of taxes, the various deductions, tax forms, and how to prepare both individual and business taxes.

Once you have completed a course, you can apply for a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) through the IRS. This is necessary as it must be included on any tax forms that you prepare. There is no fee for the initial registration or annual review, but you must renew your PTIN annually.

Once you have your PTIN and have taken the course, you can start preparing taxes. Whether you want to start your own business or work for an existing company is up to you. Either way, tax preparation can be very lucrative, with tax preparers earning upwards of $100/hour. You can choose to work only during tax season as well, which is generally January-April.

How to Become a Certified Tax Preparer: Start With a Course

Your best option for how to become a certified tax preparer is to start with a course that gives you the foundational skills in taxes. Make sure you are qualified to prepare taxes, as your PTIN will be present on any taxes that you prepare.

If you found this information helpful, be sure to check out some of our other career and tax-related articles.


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