Preparing tax seem as if it is very straight forward. You know, compute allowable expenses and taxable income – basic stuff. However, it is a little bit more than that. As a standard definition, tax preparation is the process of preparing tax returns, often income tax returns, for a person other than the taxpayer, and generally for compensation. Tax preparation can be done by the taxpayer with or without the help of tax preparation software and online services. Tax preparation services are usually carried out by tax preparers.
According to the IRS, an income tax preparer is any person who receives compensation for the preparation of all or a substantial portion of any tax return for another individual. There are various types of taxpayers and this is usually based on the nature and field of their focus. The different types include: National tax preparers (they maintain franchise offices around the country), Local Tax preparers, Enrolled Agent (EA), Tax Attorneys, and many more. Only few require certain degrees and certifications, so it is more or less easy to break into. Whether you are an aspiring tax preparer or already one, here are ways to effectively offer tax preparation services to your clients.
- Basic Training
Inasmuch as there are no hard-core requirements before you can become a tax preparer, it is important that you develop your skill and constantly add to your experience. The basic things that any aspiring tax preparer should be aware of include: mathematical skills, basic computer skills, customer service skills, an understanding of basic tax regulations and things like that. To train yourself, tax preparation courses are available across the United States.
You would learn to prepare tax returns, research tax issues, learn filing status, how to conduct taxpayer interviews, exemptions, tax calculations, refund schedules, and many more. It is always better equip yourself with at least the textbook or basic idea of tax preparation first, before you seek to gain experience so you can have a general idea of it. A few tax preparation companies offer on-the-job training, so try applying for a job directly and see if they offer this type of training.
- Get Certified
Before you can conveniently practice taxation or offer tax preparation services in the United States, you would need to meet the state and federal requirements for tax preparers. You need to go through the entire process to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) – which is used at the bottom of any tax form that the preparer handles to ensure accountability.
Usually you would need to pay a small fee to the IRS, notify them of any tax related felonies, register with your state, and then you can get a job. It is advisable to start as an Enrolled Agent, or work with the IRS. It would give your expertise more credibility and it would show that you are duly certified to work with. Your clients would always need to have an assurance that their tax preparation and filing needs are in the hands of only the best professionals. Your certification may not be directly related with you securing a dream Tax preparation job, but it goes a long way in proving that you can offer wonderful tax preparation services to your clients.
Experience, they say, is the best teacher. The best way to offer the best to your clients is by having learnt the best. After securing the right educational training and the right credentials and certifications you would need to find a company that will train you in local and state requirements for tax filing. Tax preparers would usually need to meet with clients to determine which adjustments, credits and deductions can be applied to their taxable income.
These things can only be learnt on the job. They would be able to walk you through any difficulties you may have in the beginning. It is important to use your all your work experience as stepping stones. Learn from any problem and challenge and use it to your own advantage. Take on jobs directly related to tax preparation and with time, your tax preparation services will be top notch.
- Work with Tax preparation software
A tax preparation software, simply makes the job of a Tax preparer easier. They are easy to use, quick and are standardized. That is, an updated software would be in line with current practices. The tax preparation software walks you through every section of your return, highlights deductions you might have missed, and provides red flag audit alerts. They are not expensive to get or maintain and would take your ability to handle tax preparation services to an entirely different level.
Some tax preparation software include: TurboTax, eSmart Tax, H&R Block at home, and TaxAct. The functionality of these software may vary from program to program. The use of these have become increasingly popular lately. They would complement your already built skill and experience and offer your client one of the best tax preparation services he or she has ever seen.
- Be Objective
One attribute that would keep your clients coming for more is your honesty. Your honesty would bring about their loyalty and their loyalty can even get you referrals. To offer great tax preparation services, you have to be free from bias. You must have your client’s best interest at heart, and carry out only services that would be to their own betterment. Not yours and not anybody’s.
You represent a professional body and as such you should be professional, honest and provide excellent service to the best of your expertise, knowledge and ability. Above all, objectivity should be your watchword. Also, follow appropriate federal, state, and even professional rules and regulations. File your returns in due time, do not cheat any party, be fair to all and your overall experience in offering tax preparation services would be worth it after all.
Follow these crucial steps and you would offer the best tax preparation services that would wow your clients.