There are a lot of reasons to consider becoming a tax preparer. The ease of entry, flexible hours, and low overhead make it a viable way to start your own business.
But how do you know if it’s right for you? If you have most of the skills below, you’re likely well suited for a career as a professional tax preparer.
Communication & customer service
Do you have a knack for connecting with people? Then you already have one of the most valuable skills a tax professional can have.
Tax preparation is an interpersonal business. Clients are far more likely to stick with a tax preparer if they feel that the preparer is personable and adequately addresses their questions. Even with the huge increase in remote tax preparation, clear communication and a professional but approachable persona are essential.
If keeping up with file cabinets full of sensitive documents sounds daunting, don’t worry – the business has evolved. Thankfully, paperless tax preparation makes staying organized easier than ever. In addition, most of your clients’ files are automatically stored and organized within your software, eliminating the bulk of your paperwork.
Still, to run a successful business, you’ll need an organization and time management system that helps you stay on top of appointments and office tasks. Our pre-tax season checklist series is a great place to start!
Attention to detail
If you’re the type of person who proofreads meticulously and loves a good checklist, your eye for detail could make you an excellent tax preparer. You’ll likely enjoy the challenge of completing detailed returns, and clients will value your accuracy.
Math & accounting
Of course, preparing taxes involves some level of math, but if math wasn’t your strongest subject in school, don’t despair. Your TaxSlayer Pro software will automatically handle the more complex calculations for you. But, for the most part, you’ll need to be comfortable with the basics, like percentages and simple equations.
Similarly, you’ll want to know simple accounting and bookkeeping, but you won’t need the in-depth knowledge of a CPA. Some basics include understanding the cash and accrual methods of accounting and financial statements – like the balance sheets, cash flow sheets, and profit and loss sheets. You can get started with our guides, Accounting for Taxes and The Tax Pro’s Guide to Accounting for Your Tax Prep Business.
Many tax preparers own their own business, and if you hope to do the same, you’ll need some marketing skills to build your client base. From building a social media presence to client retention, we’ve written extensively on marketing strategies for tax preparation businesses. You can review our full library of marketing tips and strategies in our blog’s Grow Your Tax Business section and whitepapers.
Knowledge of tax law & tax preparation process
Every competent tax preparer needs to understand relevant tax laws and the filing process – but you don’t need to spend years in school to do so. Some mistakenly believe that only CPAs can become tax professionals. In reality, you can gain the knowledge you need to handle basic returns relatively quickly.
The TaxSlayer Pro blog and The IRS’s Annual Filing Season Program are great places to start. The Annual Filing Season Program will help you quickly gain the knowledge you need to start preparing basic returns, and subscribing to our newsletter will keep you up-to-date on common tax questions and important changes to tax law.
From there, you can pursue several low-cost continuing education and certification options to increase your expertise and grow your business. For example, many tax professionals choose to become IRS Enrolled Agents. This certification grants you unlimited representation rights from the IRS and instantly boosts your credibility with potential clients.
If you think a career in tax preparation could be right for you, we’d love to help you get started! After you’ve read up on what tax preparers do, our Ultimate Guide to Starting a Tax Preparation Business will give you practical steps to take toward your new career as a tax professional.