A tax preparer assists an individual, a company, or organization in setting up and writing an accurate income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year. Preparers must make sure the entity for which the tax forms are being prepared pays the lowest taxes allowed by law; they must do this while ensuring that any deductions, exemptions, or claims adhere to current tax laws.
This job is often seasonal in the U.S., with preparers normally working during the winter months from December (the last month of the tax year) through April (when taxes are due) into May (for late filers). As the filing deadline date of April 15 gets closer tax preparers who work primarily with individuals or families may find their workload greatly increasing. While preparers may be busy only a few hours of a workday in January or February, by the end of March, they may find themselves working 12-hour days.
Tax preparers must be fluent on computers and with the latest preparation software for their company. They must also be excellent communicators, able to work with clients in a cordial, friendly, and professional manner. As tax laws change year to year in the U.S., preparers must also keep abreast of current laws and rules that apply for the coming year’s preparation forms.
The education and certification requirements for a tax preparer vary. For companies that handle corporate accounts, their tax preparers may need an bachelor's degree in accounting and be a registered Certified Public Accountant (CPA). For preparers doing work for individuals and families, sometimes the education requirement is a high school education, as long as experience and training are sufficient to perform the job accurately. In some states, such as California, tax preparers must possess state-recognized certification.
Tax Preparer Tasks
- Examine receipts, paystubs, and other documentation to fill out financial forms.
- Apply deductions and credits according to regulations.
- Fill out, complete, and submit tax returns.