How to Become a Tax Preparer

Tax preparation is big business during tax season, but did you know that doing taxes is a viable business opportunity year-round? Businesses are required to file returns throughout the year and individuals sometimes end up filing amended returns after tax season is over.

You can start a tax preparation business as a full-time venture, or to supplement your income during the lean post-holiday season. Skilled tax preparers are in great demand, and most states do not have rigorous requirements for paid tax preparers. Learning how to become a tax preparer is primarily a matter of learning how to handle a wide variety of tax situations.

Tax preparation courses are offered by several sources. Some tax preparation companies offer courses at a low cost. Even the IRS offers courses, and best of all they are free of charge. The only requirement is a few hours of volunteer work on their tax help line. There are also online and college courses available.

Getting Started in Tax Preparation

The knowledge needed to successfully prepare tax returns for a variety of situations is all that is necessary to get started in tax preparation. You can prepare forms by hand and mail them in. But tax preparation software makes things much simpler. Not only does it do most of the calculations for you, some software options allow you to e-file for your clients. E-filing is a popular option because it allows those due a refund to get it back much sooner than paper filing.

Pricing for tax preparation services does not have to be confusing. Many tax preparers charge per page, and this is a simple way to do things. Don't confuse a form with a page, however. Some forms such as the 1040 consist of more than one page and should be billed accordingly. Calling some local tax preparers and inquiring about their rates can help you set yours competitively.

Promoting Your Business

Once you have your software and forms handy, you can start spreading the word about your services. If you're going the seasonal route, January is the prime time to start advertising. W2 and 1099 forms are due to the recipient by January 31st, but some companies send theirs out early. Those due a refund are often anxious to get it and will want to file as soon as they have all of the necessary forms.

The newspaper and radio are good places to advertise, especially if you are only working during the busy season. The yellow pages can bring you business as well, but if you only want to prepare taxes from January through April they can also bring you unwanted calls during the remainder of the year. If, however, you want to do taxes year-round, a yellow pages ad might be a good option.

With the required knowledge and good software, tax preparation can provide home business owners with a great supplementary income. You may also choose to offer services year-round. Either way, tax preparation is a business that can be started at a low cost and offers low overhead. Those who are good at crunching numbers but aren't interested in providing full accounting services often excel in a tax preparation business.