Taxes aren't everyone's favorite topic, but if you have a knack for numbers and want to help your clients prepare taxes, a degree in taxation may be a good fit for you. Tax preparers work with both residential and commercial customers to prepare their taxes. You will need to work closely with your clients by interviewing them, record data into tax preparation software and look for ways to minimize the amount of taxes your clients owe.
A thorough knowledge of taxes and tax law will be necessary to be successful in this role. Tax preparers are closely related to other financial related careers such as tax examiners and accountants. While accountants are responsible for paying corporate taxes for their organization (in addition to numerous other responsibilities), they are typically not solely responsible for determining the taxes to pay - especially in larger organizations. Another related career is tax examiners - these people typically work for the government either at the state or federal level. Tax examiners examine tax returns for individuals and businesses to determine if audits are necessary.
You can become a tax preparer by obtaining a certificate in tax preparation or pursue an associates or bachelor's degree. You have some options depending on who your clients will be and what you want your role to be. The relative simplicity of preparing personal taxes may only require you to attend a vocational school. On the other hand, preparing taxes for a large multinational corporation may require a more advanced degree. Some students go on to get an advanced degree in Taxation so they can work for large companies handling much more complex scenarios.
At a minimum, schools will prepare you for tax preparation by including courses on tax law, regulations, electronic tax systems, and tax planning. If you plan to prepare taxes for large organizations, additional coursework in depreciation, capital gains and losses and estates and trusts will be needed.
In order to be a successful tax preparer, you will need to enjoy working with people as communication skills are critical. You must be an active listener to ensure mistakes are not made. You also need to have a strong attention to detail and a knack for numbers.
Tax preparation is a necessary service for consumers and commercial entities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 10-14% increase over the next ten years. The median salary for a tax preparer is just over $36,000 per year but will vary depending on the experience and education you have.