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How to Become a Tax Professional

Career News September 1, 2013

You’re right in thinking that becoming a tax professional is a smart move, considering that the Internal Revenue Service is going to be a part of the U.S. economy as long as the entire U.S. federal government is still in charge. Since no radical libertarians have been elected to the presidency, it’s safe to say that the IRS is going to continue on well into the next century. That means, a stable income for you, should you reach out to become a tax professional. You can apply within state offices or an independent tax preparer. The fact is, many people are nervous about filling out their taxes and will pay professionals to do this for them, expecting them to be competent and educated in tax law.

Educational Requirements for Tax Jobs

Schools such as University of Maryland College Park, University of Texas – Austin, University of Southern California, and many others offer courses designed to help beginning tax workers start their career with a proper education. However, you are not required to have a college degree just to be considered. Some individuals with a high school education could be considered for a position, though you shouldn’t be surprised if most firms hire bachelor’s degree graduates, or at least experienced workers in the field. Most students that apply for entry-level positions are coming straight out of college, so you should be warned about the competition. Degree programs to aim for might include business, accounting or some programs of mathematics.

If you want to work for the government then you will be required to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum. If you want to start working for a private firm then another option might be to take a tax preparation course, which will come from a community college. Once you pass a tax knowledge test (provided by some stations, such as H&R Block); you may be able to get your foot in the door with an employer. If you are serious about progressing in this field then know that the IRS now requires tax professionals to register for a PTIN, or Preparer Tax Identification Number. Additionally, you may have to sign up with the State Department of Taxation, if you work on the state level.

Continuing Education Expectations

Even if you find a job at the entry-level, it is wise to keep apprised of new laws and emerging legalities. Almost every year, Congress is passing new laws that affect tax workers and tax payers. So, a great deal of tax payer time will be devoted to continuing education. What’s really nice is that some providers of these continuing education courses offer training in resort locations, giving you the chance to mix business with pleasure. Even if you’re a homebody, there are now online courses that can help you.

You will be working primarily during January through April (tax season), though plenty of accountants and tax workers manage to make enough to survive the whole year based on this period of high volume business. This is a job that rewards a few minutes of your time with high payment. However, with these perks comes tremendous responsibility. Your clients are expecting you not merely to fill out their forms, but to guide them through the process, helping them stay in line with Uncle Sam’s policies. If you’re up for that task, a tax professional may be the right career for you.

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