How To Become a Certified Tax Preparer [Step-By-Step Guide]

female accountant working in the office

Are you thinking you'd like to become a certified tax preparer? It's a lucrative career and one that's very satisfying if you like numbers and have a natural ability to remember and follow rules and regulations.

Start on the path to this career in a few simple steps. Keep reading to get started and learn about IRS requirements and educational opportunities for tax preparers.

Applying for a PTIN

You may prepare taxes for other people without much training. The only thing the IRS requires is a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number), which you can apply for online for free. The process is similar to applying for a tax ID number, and you receive the number online.

This authorizes you to complete tax returns for individuals and businesses. You must include your PTIN on any returns you complete for others.

However, having a PTIN is a limited authorization. If their taxes get audited, you would not be able to represent your clients to the IRS with only this minimal credential. To do that, you must pass the SEE (Special Enrollment Examination) and become an Enrolled Agent with the IRS.

Enrolled agents have to complete 72 hours of continuing education every 3 years.

How to Become a Certified Tax Preparer

In addition to the IRS requirements, it helps your clients' confidence in your abilities if you have a certification. Take a tax preparation course to help you become a certified tax preparer. Upon completion of the course, you'll receive a certificate showing your education experience.

Besides giving your clients the assurance that comes with this credential, you'll also build your tax preparation skills. Learn practical advice and real-world solutions to help you overcome the challenges you'll encounter during your role as a tax preparer.

Get a License

Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to get a license. If you live in Maryland, Illinois, California, Oregon, New York, Nevada, or Connecticut, they require a separate credential before you can prepare taxes for others.

The process is similar to becoming an enrolled agent with the IRS (above). You'll have to pass an exam and pay a fee to get your license.

Many states give exemptions to CPAs or attorneys because of their education, meaning you do not need to obtain the license to become a tax preparer.

Education and Degrees

You don't have to have a college education to become a tax preparer. However, degrees in accounting, bookkeeping, or comparable fields mean that it's easier for you to become a tax preparer.

Not only do you receive exemptions in some states' licensing programs but also you don't have to become an Enrolled Agent with the IRS. They recognize you're already licensed by state courts or the state boards of accountancy.

New Career

If you want to become a certified tax preparer, the good news is there isn't a long list of requirements.

Besides the PTIN and other IRS requirements, you don't need a special degree. Enroll in a certification program today to receive specialized training and a certificate to prove your skills to clients.

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