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How to become a professional tax preparer

Getting started as a professional tax return preparer may be easier than you thought. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions, as well as a step-by-step plan to help you set off on the right foot.

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How to become a professional tax preparer:

1. Create your PTIN

Anyone who prepares tax returns and charges a fee for their services is required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) . There aren’t any educational requirements to get your PTIN. You can create one online on the IRS website. The process only takes about 15 minutes. You can also apply for a PTIN by completing and mailing in  Form W-12.  

2. Apply for an EFIN 

If you plan to file tax returns electronically, the IRS requires that you have an Electronic Filing Identification Number or EFIN . You can complete your application quickly on the IRS website, here. You will also need to provide your fingerprints to the IRS unless you are already a certified licensed professional, like a CPA or attorney. It should take about 45 days to get your EFIN. 

3. Register with your state 

Every state is different. Depending on where you plan to work, you may or may not need to register as a tax preparer. Look up your state’s requirements before you begin accepting clients.

4. Work at an office 

When you are just starting out as a tax preparer, you may find it helpful to work for an established tax prep service for a brief period. Not only will you be able to ask questions and gain experience during tax season, but you could also learn valuable lessons about the state and local requirements where you plan to start your business. 

5. Choose a tax prep software

Every tax preparer is different. Depending on your level of experience in the industry, you may require certain things from your tax preparation software. Consider your needs first.  

  • How much support and tax filing assistance is included?
  • Can you install the software on your desktop? 
  • Does it come in a cloud-based version?
  • Can your provider also help you grow your revenue as you gain experience?

These questions are essential, and the answers can help you decide which solution is the right one for you. 

TaxSlayer Pro is an easy-to-use tax prep software for tax preparers with all levels of education and experience. See how we work. Get a demo of our software today . 

How to start your own tax preparation business

Use these easy to follow steps to build your own tax prep business with TaxSlayer Pro.

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What are the different types of tax preparers?

Tax preparers can have different titles, depending on their level of education. Some need a license to practice, and some do not.

Electronic Return Originator (ERO)

EROs assist others who are filing a tax return. The ERO is the person who submits the return to the IRS online. You do not need a certification to be an ERO. However, you will need an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).

Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) Participants

ASFP tax preparers must take 15-18 hours of continuing education each year, and they must pass a test at the end of their coursework. Once they complete their requirements, these preparers receive a record of completion from the IRS. They are also included in a public database of preparers on the IRS website. 

Enrolled Agent (EA) 

Enrolled agents are federally licensed tax professionals. To become an EA, you must complete an IRS-sponsored exam and pass a background check. You must also meet specific continuing-education requirements to maintain your EA status once you have it.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A CPA’s primary role is accounting, but CPAs are typically certified at the state level to file tax returns as well. To become a licensed CPA, you must meet certain education requirements and pass a CPA exam. 

Do I need a degree to be a tax preparer? 

You don’t need a bachelor’s or associate degree to become a tax preparer. However, to build a successful tax prep business, it helps to have basic math, computer, and customer service skills. 

Do I need a high school diploma to prepare taxes?

You don’t have to be a high school graduate to work as a tax preparer. But there are several certifications available that can help you improve your skills and build your business, and many of those programs do require you to have a high school diploma. 

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