How to become

How To Become A Tax Preparer

How To Become A Tax Preparer


Tax preparers prepare and file federal and state tax returns for paying clients. In some states, they may work independently, but in other states, they are required to work under the supervision of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), attorney, or other tax professional.

Tax preparers must be familiar with the various tax forms and schedules that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state tax boards issue, and they should be comfortable using math and computers. Tax preparers examine their client’s financial records and work with them to determine their tax obligation and to identify tax credits and deductions for which they qualify. They then fill out the appropriate forms and submit them to the state and federal government on their client’s behalf, signing their name on the return to identify themselves as the preparer.

Why Choose a Career in Tax Preparation?

Tax prep is a business that will continue to exist, as long as the federal and state government stands. There is an increasing need for preparers and experts in taxation, especially since there have been recent changes in the tax code and laws that affect the filing process.

Filing taxes is not always a bad thing. In fact, as of 2018, many people are excited about the opportunities that have been laid out by the changes the president has made that may allow more tax breaks for business owners and more opportunities for tax deductions and lower tax liability for everyone.

This could be your most exceptional opportunity to reel in new business once you get your credentials as a preparer. Start by searching for accounting or business courses that will start you on your road to success. You could earn a college degree or gain a good background in accounting and tax law to begin your journey. Then learn as much as you can about the tax prep business and licensing requirements and earn your professional certification. You’ll soon be on your way to an exciting and potentially lucrative career.

After all, who doesn’t want help with their taxes?

Working as a Tax Preparer 

If you are clueless about filing your income tax returns, you need the services of a tax preparer. And let’s face it: most of us fall into this category. The U.S. tax code proves to be so confusing that over 80% of taxpayers give up on managing alone, including the head of the IRS.

As a tax preparer, you need to know your way around taxing legislation and regulations because if you do not, it will come back and bite you, you know where, fairly soon. This is not the kind of thing you would want to be bluffing with.

And even if your work is spotless, your client might still forget to sign the documents before submitting them, which is what happens to over a million taxpayers, nationwide, every year. So if you decide to be a tax preparer, rest assured, people who master this profession will never have to look hard for clients.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a tax preparer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $24.49 an hour? That’s $50,945 a year!

What Does a Tax Preparer Do

A tax preparer is responsible for preparing and processing the tax obligations of an organization. Tax preparers’ duties include calculating tax returns, reviewing financial statements and make adjustments as needed, analyzing deductible expenses and credits, and adhering to the tax regulations and legislation procedures at all times. A tax preparer must have excellent knowledge of the tax processes and timely updated with the recent changes and updates within the financial industry. Tax preparers should have impeccable analytical and critical thinking skills to manage account statements for business and individual clients.

Tax Preparer Responsibilities

If you are considering a career as a tax preparer, it’s important to know what they do on a regular basis. As the title implies, their job is all about preparing the tax forms of individuals and businesses, as well as non-profit and other organizations. Anyone who is required to file a tax form might be potential customer or client.

As a certified tax preparer, you may be involved in a wide range of activities including filing federal taxes for businesses, tax filing or reviewing tax returns for individuals or non-profit organizations, and proofreading and interpreting a tax form or the tax code for individuals or business owners.

Some popular job titles of a tax preparer may include the following:

Tax Preparer, Tax Advisor ,Tax Form Interpreter ,Tax Filing Expert ,Tax Consultant

Some of this will be influenced by the firm you are working for, the types of clients you take on, and whether you are working for yourself as an independent contractor or working on staff as the general tax advisor or tax prep professional. You can define your role in many ways by illustrating what you want to specialize in such as filing taxes, advising or serving as a consultant, or other tasks.

Just be careful not to cross over into legal advice, as this is not something you are qualified for and you should always recommend that a person seek an attorneys advice for more severe tax problems with the IRS or state tax entities.

Special Problems or Situations that Require a Tax Preparer

The tax filing status that someone chooses is important to the outcome of their business. They can also claim more deductibles with certain filing statuses. However, the average business owner may not have a firm understanding of what the different filing statuses mean and other tax knowledge. Accounting professionals with tax expertise may be able to explain the differences between them so that they will make a more educated decision on the category to put their business in.

Handling S-Corp Status

One example of when a tax preparer might help a business owner is to help them integrate into an S-Corp status. Of course, the filing of this must be done with the Secretary of State within the person’s state of residence. But, once this is done, it is also important to understand what this status means when it comes to tax filing time. When you are an S-Corporation in most states, you can decide how much income you are claiming on your income tax forms. This means that you do not have to claim your entire income during the tax year. A tax preparer could recommend the percentage to count as income while the rest of the income will be counted as dividends of the company.

This sounds complicated, but a tax preparer has a good grasp of this process, and they can make the entire process simple. Additionally, a tax preparer is the one business owners turn to when they need to know which forms they need to file each year. Avoiding these costly mistakes is essential to the business owner, no matter what their tax filing status is.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real tax preparer resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Follow IRS’s guidelines in accurately preparing taxes and complete entries on forms, following tax form instructions and tax tables.
  • Maintain confidential information, such as pay stubs, w-2’s, social security numbers and copies of customers identification card.
  • Confer and assist CPA departmentally.
  • Complete education requirements for CPA license.
  • Recognized by the IRS for outstanding public service and community contribution.
  • Prepare bank reconciliations and general ledger maintenance for multiple clients using QuickBooks software.
  • Prepare management reports and financial summaries using QuickBooks detailing company’s financial status.
  • Offer tax preparation services for the low-to-moderate income individuals, persons with disabilities and the elderly
  • Interview clients to obtain personal information, accurately record data, validate calculations, and explain income tax rules.
  • Interact directly with borrowers, management companies concerning escrow analysis of mortgage escrows accounts and collecting payment for any existing shortages.
  • Start job by assisting TurboTax user’s on how to enter information into the TurboTax program.

Tax Preparer Skills

Tax preparers work for accountants, businesses, non-profit organizations, tax preparation services, government agencies or as independent contractors. Since 2001, the Internal Revenue Service has required paid tax preparers to undergo a federal tax law examination to prove their technical skills and knowledge. Although there is no formal education or experience requirements to become a tax preparerer, the most successful candidates possess some common qualities that allow them to better assist people with their tax returns.

Communication Skills

Finances are a sensitive, private subject, so you must be able to communicate in a way that makes people feel confident in your abilities and comfortable confiding in you. This means using active listening techniques. You must also be able to break down complicated tax laws into simple, concise terms.Communication is the ability to express one’s ideas and thoughts to other people using expressions, words, or actions. Communication is to receive or send any kind of information. People need to be able to communicate and convey their message to the customers to run a successful business.

Here’s how communication is used on tax preparer resumes:

  • Ensured high level of customer service and communication with all departments; properly answered all incoming calls and registered confidential information.
  • Provided excellent customer service during tax preparation procedures through use of effective communication to enhance customer satisfaction and overall experience.
  • Utilized excellent communication skills to work with clients on sensitive financial information and provide recommendations for future tax planning.
  • Reconciled and corrected discrepancies found in records through communication with customers, and individuals in other departments.
  • Possessed considerable knowledge of customer service principals and practices and effective verbal and written communication skills.

Critical Thinking Skills

You have to be able to analyze a situation and use deductive reasoning to determine if the client qualifies for deductions and credits, as well as how to categorize different types of income and losses. You also have to be able to use sound judgement to establish the advantages and disadvantages of taking a certain course of action, such as opting for one tax write-off over another.

Attention to Detail

Tax preparers must make accurate calculations and be careful to avoid errors, such as misinterpreting tax regulations or entering numbers incorrectly. Even small inaccuracies, such as placing a decimal in the wrong place, can throw the entire tax return off. The result of these mistakes can not only cost the client money, it may also cause trouble with the IRS and state taxation agencies. You must possess the capability to thoroughly scrutinize your work to eliminate errors and inaccuracies.

Financial records are formal records of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity. These are documents that provide evidence or summarize business transactions. Relevant financial record is presented in a structured and easily understandable way. A well-organized set of financial records is an essential part of the accounting service. At the most detailed level, financial records can include invoices and receipts. These records, both paper and electronic, tell you where your money and assets are and how much you have at any given time.

Here’s how financial records is used on tax preparer resumes:

  • Organized and prepared simple and complex tax returns, evaluated income statements and financial records with timely and efficient customer service
  • Interviewed clients and reviewed financial records such as documentation of expenditures to obtain a thorough picture of financial situation.
  • Reviewed financial records such as income statements and interest statements to further assisted customer in maximizing their tax return.
  • Review financial records such as income statements and documentation of expenditures in order to determine forms needed for preparation.
  • Review financial records such as income statements and documentation of expenditures to provide accounting support to small businesses.


Because tax preparation is a number-heavy profession, tax preparers must have a firm grasp of mathematics. Proficiency in arithmetic, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages and fractions, is one of the basic qualifications of a tax preparer. Beyond the fundamentals, the job often involves plugging numbers into complicated formulas, so you must have knowledge of algebra and possess the ability to accurately solve equations.

Customer Service

Customer service is the process of offering assistance to all the current and potential customers — answering questions, fixing problems, and providing excellent service. The main goal of customer service is to build a strong relationship with the customers so that they keep coming back for more business.

Here’s how customer service is used on tax preparer resumes:

  • Deliver exceptional customer service by anticipating customer needs and considers the impact of all decisions/actions on the customer.
  • Ensured complete customer satisfaction by providing incomparable customer service, leading to repeat clientele and client referrals.
  • Provided essential customer service and regulated customers during high traffic times in office.
  • Delivered professional customer service to clients in a timely and effective manner.
  • Improved office efficiency and customer service by overhauling previously used filing system.

Scheduling Appointments

Scheduling appointments is the practice of finding a free slot with the person(s) you want to meet. The process of scheduling appointments involves finding mutually free time, negotiating follow-ups, sending reminders, and creating new appointments. Scheduling appointments is important to ensure that the timings of consecutive meetings do not clash with each other.

Here’s how scheduling appointments is used on tax preparer resumes:

  • Assisted in scheduling appointments and assisted customers with retrieval of tax documentation.
  • Performed general office services, including scheduling appointments and answering phones.
  • Provided customer service such as appointment scheduling and answering questions via phone
  • Perform various clerical and administrative duties including scheduling appointments.
  • Managed appointment scheduling and handled customer service calls.


IRS stands for internal revenue services. It helps many compliant taxpayers become conversant with the law regarding taxes; it ensures the minority who refuse to comply with paying taxes pay the required amount.

Here’s how irs is used on tax preparer resumes:

  • Determined authorized tax deductions in accordance to IRS and Indiana Department of Revenue and recorded them accurately.
  • Processed all Tax Returns/Communicated to the IRS for customer issues/Filed all necessary paperwork
  • Recognized by IRS for outstanding public service and community contribution.
  • Resolved problems, analyzed W-2 forms, and other tax related documents for transmittal to IRS and State offices for compliance.
  • Followed IRS’s guidelines in accurately preparing taxes and completed entries on forms, following tax form instructions and tax tables.

Financial Statements

A financial statement is a report of an individual or a company that includes all the information about the declared assets, the use of money, income, and also the contribution of shareholders over a certain period.

Here’s how financial statements is used on tax preparer resumes:

  • Created financial statements/reports and supported all areas of responsibility within a 5 person accounting team.
  • Foretasted short and long term earnings projections and recommended strategies Prepared and maintained financial statements.
  • Assembled tax returns and financial statements and successfully accomplished e-filing goals ahead of schedule.
  • Developed and analyzed financial statements for various clients to offer insight into increased profitability.
  • Reconciled balance sheet accounts with fragmented bank statements and documents supporting the financial statements.

How to Become a Tax Preparer: 5 Steps

Preparing tax returns is a varied career, meaning the actual path can take many different turns. But if you want to know the beginning steps, here is how to start your path to becoming a tax preparer.

1. Complete Minimum Education Requirements

Clearly, you’re going to need some particularly strong math skills if you want to spend your career preparing tax returns for individuals or small businesses.

Despite that, though, you may be surprised to find that a bachelor’s degree is not required to become a tax preparer. The minimum education requirements for this line of work are a high school degree or GED.

So if you’re not someone who was able to attend college, this is absolutely still a valid career path. If you’re currently in high school and interested in becoming a tax preparer, use this education as an opportunity to become very familiar with the skills required of a tax preparer, namely math and computer skills.

You should also be taking some time on your own to familiarize yourself with how taxes work, and what goes into preparing the returns. The more knowledge you have, the better advantage you’ll likely have for job opportunities and certifications.

All of this is not to say, however, that college should be out of the question. If you can attend college and wish to, getting a relevant bachelor’s degree will still give you a massive advantage. While not required for the general job of tax preparer, you’ll need one if you want to become a CPA, EA or tax attorney (in addition to the law degree obviously required for a tax attorney).

If you believe you’re able to take on whatever student loans come with your degree, it gives you the potential for a much higher salary.

2. Take Tax Preparation Courses

Though you can learn plenty in your high school and college education about math and taxes, there are still a lot of specifics that go into tax return preparation that they don’t cover. For this, you’ll need tax preparation courses to fill you in on vital information.

Look into nearby universities and community colleges, as many have a tax preparation course that ends with a certification. These courses break down many of the specifics that come with preparing a tax return. You’ll be familiarized with major forms like the 1040, and learn about the various tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

You’ll likely learn about tax deductions, how to file taxes for different people and businesses and the many laws that have to be followed. Effectively, you can take the initial knowledge you’ve gotten from your high school and/or college education, from math to law, and apply them to information more directly relevant to tax preparation.

In addition to courses at colleges, you may want to look into some of the larger tax preparation businesses near you; many of the nationwide ones offer courses of their own, and if you’re able to get a job quicker than expected after your education, many of them offer training on the job too.

3. Get a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS

You can’t get that tax preparer job, however, without having a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) through the IRS.

Applying for your PTIN is easy enough, though depending on your situation you may have to explain certain things on your application. To fill out your PTIN application you will need the following:

  • Name
  • Mailing address
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Explanation of felony convictions, if applicable
  • Explanation of any discrepancies in your taxes, if applicable

Those last two, should they apply to you, don’t automatically disqualify you from a PTIN. But they may stall the process of getting your PTIN.

Once you have your PTIN, you are registered by the IRS as an “unenrolled preparer,” which is the minimum level of clearance the IRS grants individuals that allows them to file federal taxes.

If you plan on starting your own tax preparation firm, you will also need to get an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) from the IRS. This gives your firm the ability to e-file tax returns, which is generally required of a firm that files 11 or more income tax returns.

To do this, you will need an IRS e-services account, where you submit an application to become an authorized e-File provider by the IRS. You’ll also have to pass a “sustainability check,” which can include a credit check and a criminal background check.

What is an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN)?

An electronic filing identification number (EFIN) is a number assigned by the IRS to preparers who are approved for the federal and state e-file program.

Once issued, an EFIN does not expire. However, if you change your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or the name of your firm, you will have to either get a new one or update it through the online portal.

It’s important to note: everybody who prepares taxes needs a PTIN. However, only your firm needs an EFIN. One per firm or per physical location is usually required.

To put even more simply: you need a PTIN to prepare and an EFIN to e-file.

4. Become Licensed in Your State

Depending on where you live, if you are a non-credentialed tax preparer (as in you have your PTIN but are not a CPA, EA or attorney) you may have to get licensed or registered to practice tax preparation. These states are:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Oregon

Though many of these states have the same general requirements with variations on the details, certain requirements can be totally unique. For example, New York requires that prospective tax preparers submit proof that they either do not have child support obligations or, if they do, that they are up to date (they cannot be four or more months overdue).

The amount of required training may also vary by state. California requires a 60-hour educational course (one with approval by the California Tax Education Council) for tax preparers, but Oregon requires at least 80 hours of training education on taxes.

These are, again, requirements for non-credentialed preparers. More credentialed ones will of course require more. Enrolled agents and CPAs have their own exams to pass before they can have that title.

5. Gain Tax Preparation Experience

You’ve got your education finished, you have your PIN and you’ve done the work to become authorized to prepare tax returns in your state. Now it’s time to actually put that to use.

The tax preparation firms that offer training and education can also be, at minimum, a great place to start your career as a tax preparer. Firms like H&R Block (HRB) – Get H&R Block Inc. Report and Liberty Tax Service (TAXA) are nationwide, and practicing tax preparations at a place like this is perfect for a non-credentialed tax preparer with their PTIN ready.

Those with more credentials can gain experience in places that, thanks to their job titles, are fairly self-explanatory. Did you pass your CPA exam to become a certified public accountant? Look for work in your local accounting firms. Same with tax attorneys and law firms.

You can gain a lot of experience in a short amount of time, and depending on your job title or office you may find yourself becoming a specialized tax preparer, especially if you are doing tax returns for businesses. All of this has the potential, if you have the ambition, to be the prelude to eventually opening your own tax preparation business.

How long does it take to become a tax preparer?

The simplest answer to this is: in the time it takes to apply for and receive a PTIN and an EFIN.

However, how long it takes to become a seasoned tax preparer is perhaps the more correct question to ask, as the ability to make money and build a career is dependent upon a certain amount of experience and skill.

In most cases, it takes about two seasons to learn the basics of tax preparation.  Whether you plan on starting at a firm or becoming a sole practitioner, the career progression looks similar. In the first year, most new preparers will focus on raw data entry. The second year brings a little more autonomy. By the third year, you’re armed with the necessary experience and skills to work as a full-fledged staff preparer.

After the initial period of seasoning, it takes about five years to learn the nuances and niche areas of your clients and your practice. In that time, you gain expertise that differentiates you as a tax preparer and allows you to set yourself apart in the market.

How do I keep up with new tax law changes?

Keeping up with tax law changes is imperative for both new and experienced preparers. As a result, most preparers invest some time each day checking on any IRS changes, technical corrections, or any other state or local changes that might impact their business.

An excellent first stop is the IRS website, which is full of publications and instructions that will help new and experienced preparers navigate changes to the tax code, as well as commonly asked questions and other useful tips.

Checkpoint Edge from Thomson Reuters is another resource for tax professionals who are looking to do their jobs with more accuracy, confidence, and daily news updates. Checkpoint Edge provides you with up-to-date research materials, editorial insight, productivity tools, online learning, and marketing resources that add value to your firm immediately.  

Alternatively, if you’re on a tight budget, a few well-chosen tax books may be sufficient to begin with.

What are the most common tax forms and types of tax returns prepared by a tax preparer?

Depending on levels of experience, your client roster, and the specifics of your business, the types of tax returns a preparer will work on can range from an Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040 to a Corporation Income Tax Return, Form 1120 to interpreting complex partnership agreements.

However, most tax forms will break down into two different groups: 

  • Individual forms, such as 1040.
  • Business returns, including corporations, partnerships, trusts, not for profit exempt organizations.

Most preparers will usually focus on 1040s/individual tax preparations when starting out. This is generally because they’re easier to prepare and, honestly, easier clients to get. For some preparers, staying 1040 focused is a career choice, doing a little bit of business work as it arises from current clients.

However, often tax preparers are looking to get more business work, and their 1040 clients are a bridge to that career goal. Doing individual returns gets cash flow underway. Over time, they can get enough money and clients to transition to a more business-focused client list.

Best Tax Preparation Courses

  1. Surgent Income Tax School

Why We Chose It

Tax preparation courses are available for professionals at all knowledge and experience levels at an affordable cost.


  • Resources are available for beginning and experienced tax pros
  • Costs are affordable
  • Surgent has an excellent reputation


  • Career services aren’t provided
  • Can take up to 18 months to complete the program


Surgent was founded in 1985 and is a leading accounting, tax, and finance education provider. The company is well known for its continuing professional education (CPE) and exam review programs (e.g., Enrolled Agent and CPA exams). It also has an Income Tax School with more than 40 online tax training programs offered nationally.

The Surgent Income Tax School offers professional tax preparation courses for individuals at all career levels, including beginners and experienced tax professionals. This includes short, three-hour CPE seminars good for tax professionals needing to maintain their certifications. It also includes comprehensive training for beginners with high school education and no experience who want to become tax professionals. 

Costs vary depending on the courses, ranging from a low of $29 for a CPE course up to $1,497 for all five courses in its Chartered Tax Professional (CTP) program, covering beginner to advanced tax concepts. Upon CTP program completion, you’ll have the knowledge and experience necessary to prepare for the Enrolled Agent exam. 

If you opt for the CTP program, you’ll complete the program online at your own pace with access to instructor support via email. You’ll get review questions, quizzes, and other learning activities to complete, in addition to informative videos. 

You can expect it to take 12 to 18 months to complete the program.

  1. Federal Income Tax Course by the National Tax Training School

Why We Chose It

If you have at least a high school education, you can get the training you need to become a tax preparer in a year or less from an accredited school.


  • Only need a high school education
  • Support from a dedicated mentor
  • School is accredited and has a good reputation


  • Can take a year to complete
  • No job placement assistance
  • Additional training is needed to become a licensed EA


The National Tax Training School was founded in 1952 and is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Its Federal Income Tax Course is delivered nationally and covers tax return preparation for individuals and small to medium-size businesses. You need a high school education, knowledge of basic math, and the ability to follow written instructions, and the course requires no prior experience preparing taxes, making it the best tax preparation course for beginners. 

Once you enroll, you’ll be assigned a dedicated mentor who will guide you through the course. They’ll also be available to provide you with coaching or other support you need to succeed. However, it will be up to you to find tax preparation work. 

You complete the program’s 20 online modules at your own pace, which means it can be completed in as quickly as eight weeks or it could take up to a year. Expect it to take about eight hours to finish each unit. 

In addition to online resources, you’ll get the full course in hard copy format so you can have a handy reference source. 

The course costs $625 if you pay in full. Alternatively, you can pay three equal installments of $216 for a total cost of $648. These costs include a 10% discount offered related to COVID-19.

If you want, you can also continue to complete more advanced tax preparation training with the National Tax Training School, so you can ultimately become licensed by the IRS as an Enrolled Agent.

  1. Advanced Tax Preparation by the National Tax Training School

Why We Chose It

For those experienced with preparing basic tax returns, the Advanced Tax Preparation course by National Tax Training School can teach tax pros how to prepare more complex tax returns. Plus, Enrolled Agent exam prep is included.


  • Learn how to prepare complex tax returns
  • Access to a tax expert mentor for a year


  • Job placement services aren’t provided
  • Can take a year to complete the program


If you know how to prepare basic tax returns and want to continue to advance in your career, the Advanced Tax Preparation course by National Tax Training School is a great option. You’ll learn how to provide a full suite of tax services (e.g., complex tax returns, tax strategy, tax consulting), and Enrolled Agent exam prep, which is typically offered as a separate program, is included. 

This online course is self-paced. It’s possible to complete it in a couple of months, but it could take a year. In addition to online materials, you’ll be given a hard copy to use as a reference guide and you’ll be assigned a course mentor who can support you with tax-related issues for up to a year.

Upon graduation, you’ll earn a certificate identifying you as a Professional Tax Consultant. If you want to become an Enrolled Agent, you’ll be ready to sit for the exam upon graduation. Getting licensed as an EA can be a great way to accelerate your tax preparation career.

If you opt for this program, the tuition is $745 if paid in full in advance. Alternatively, you can make two equal installments of $380 for a total tuition of $760.

  1. National Association of Tax Professionals CPE Packages

Why We Chose It

You can access quality CPE training from a professional organization recognized by the IRS at an affordable cost.


  • More than 200 CPE credits included with the premium membership
  • Non-members can access some of the online CPE training
  • Professional organization recognized by the IRS


  • Only premium members can access all the online CPE training
  • Costs are higher for non-members


The National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) was founded in 1979. It offers education and support to tax professionals nationally. If you’re a premium member, you’ll get access to all the NATP’s online CPE training for no additional cost, and even non-members of the NATP can access some of its quality continuing professional education.

You can choose from three NATP membership tiers, all of which include some CPE offerings. This is the most impressive CPE offering of the tax preparation course providers .If you aren’t an NATP member, you can purchase 10 CPE credits for courses about foreign taxes for $346 or 40 CPE credits for basic tax preparation courses for $510. Professional or basic NATP members get a fee discount of 5% to 25%. All of these courses are included in the premium NATP membership. The CPE training costs are higher for non-members. If you want to see if the NATP CPE training is right for you, a more cost-effective option is to buy the basic membership.

  1. Gleim Enrolled Agent Review

Why We Chose It

You can get access to a robust library of EA review materials from a well-known provider for a reasonable cost, and the highest-cost plan includes up to 72 hours of CPE credit.


  • Three competitive pricing tiers
  • Personalized support from a counselor with higher-cost plans


  • No one-on-one support with the lowest-cost plan
  • Digital and physical review book only available with higher-cost plans


Gleim Exam Prep has been publishing accounting review courses since 1980. The company offers various accounting exam prep courses that are among the best in the market, including an EA review course that provides a high level of support and materials with the purchase of a Gleim EA review course. 

You can choose from three EA exam prep options ranging in cost from $379.85 to $629.95 (sometimes discounted as low as $598.45). If you buy the lowest-cost product, you’ll get access to an Enrolled Agent exam test bank and either a digital or physical copy of the review book. 

With the highest-cost plan, you’ll get a physical and digital copy of the book along with adaptive technology to guide you to areas you need to study. You’ll be able to take a full-length practice exam six times, receive personal support from a counselor, and earn up to 72 hours of CPE credit. This is helpful if you need to meet your annual CPE requirements while studying for the exam.

The amount of time it will take you to complete this course ranges from a couple of months to up to a year or longer.

  1. H&R Block Income Tax Preparation Course

Why We Chose It

There’s no tuition, and you’ll learn how to prepare federal income taxes from an experienced tax professional.


  • Free tuition
  • Reasonable cost for materials
  • May be able to secure a job


  • Classes are only offered seasonally
  • Time intensive


H&R Block is a tax services company founded in 1955. It has locations throughout the United States and its territories, as well as on military bases globally. If you’re interested in exploring a career as a tax preparer, H&R Block offers a low-cost, 12-week virtual federal income tax course. You can expect to spend 80 to 90 hours of work on this course.

What made it stand out is you won’t have to pay any tuition for this course. In all states other than New York and Tennessee, you’ll need to purchase course materials. This will cost $99 if you live in Minnesota and $149 in all other states. 

You’ll need to be at least 18 to enroll. Although the specific requirements vary slightly by state, you’ll usually need to have at least a high school diploma to be admitted.

Classes open for enrollment in August each year. The goal is to teach you how to prepare taxes before the next tax season begins. You’ll learn about federal income taxes from experienced tax professionals, and may even be able to begin a career with H&R Block once you’ve completed the training. 

You may also be able to get college credit from the University of Phoenix or Western Governors University. You’ll need to reach out to an advisor at these colleges to learn how to get the credits transferred and to discuss any fees that might apply.

  1. IRS Link and Learn Taxes

Why We Chose It

You can learn how to prepare taxes for free and get experience you can apply toward a license, and you can even earn continuing education credit.


  • Free
  • Gain experiences as a tax preparer
  • Learn about taxes directly from the IRS


  • Takes up to 30 hours to complete
  • Must pass an exam


The IRS offers free tax preparation training to volunteers as a part of its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) tax return preparation programs. The purpose of these programs is to help qualifying taxpayers file their tax returns and this is accomplished with the help of volunteers who are trained in tax preparation. 

If you want to serve as a VITA/TCE volunteer, you can get tax preparation training from the IRS for free. You can expect it to take about 30 hours to complete this training course. Before you can begin preparing taxes, you’ll need to pass the training exam with a score of at least 80%. 

If you’re an experienced tax preparer, you may also be able to earn up to 18 hours of CPE credit by volunteering in this program. In addition to preparing tax returns, you can even serve as a volunteer instructor. 

You don’t need to have prior experience to complete this training and serve as a volunteer. However, you’ll be required to adhere to high ethical standards and pass an ethics training course.

How Much Money Can a Tax Preparer Make?

The amount of money a preparer can make is largely dependent on whether they’re a sole practitioner or work for a public accounting firm, the number of clients they can handle, and the geographical location of their practice.

So, while many first-year tax preparers may claim a starting salary around $50,000, year one staff might be somewhere between $30,000-$40,000 at a different firm. And if you’re serving as an intern, you might not make anything. 

While the salaries of most regional firms will be set before you walk through the doors for your interview, the amount of money a sole practitioner can make is limitless (or at least, based on how much work you’re willing to do). So, then the questions become: how many clients can you get? How much work can you get through? What kind of software can boost your efficiency and increase throughput?

Some people begin their careers at firms to get the first two years of experience. And then they break away and start a local firm. This allows you to get high-quality training to boost your skills out of the gate.

Several national and seasonal businesses also offer training to their preparers.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tax preparers’ median annual salary is estimated at $43,080. Overall, BLS annual tax preparer salary estimates range from $21,750 to $87,060.The amount you can make as a tax preparer depends on your experience, qualifications, and geographic location.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Is a Tax Preparation Course?

A tax preparation course will teach you how to prepare federal income taxes. You typically don’t need any experience to take these courses except a high school education and basic math knowledge. 

After completing a beginning tax preparation course, registering with the IRS as a tax return preparer, and receiving a preparer tax identification number (PTIN), you’ll be ready to begin your career as a tax preparer.

  • Who Should Enroll in a Tax Preparation Course?

Anyone interested in learning more about taxes, starting a career as a tax preparer, or advancing their tax preparation career should enroll in a tax preparation course. If you’re a beginner, this type of course can help you decide if a tax preparation career is right for you. Experienced tax preparers can advance their careers to the next level (e.g., pass the Enrolled Agent exam) or earn the CPE credits required to maintain their licenses.

  • How Is a Tax Preparer Different From an Accountant?

Accountants perform a wide variety of work including preparing financial statements, filing tax returns, and even auditing a company’s financial statements. They can also help individuals and businesses develop financial plans and estate planning. Tax preparers are only able to provide individuals and businesses with assistance and advice related to taxes.

  • What Will I Learn in a Tax Preparation Course?

You’ll learn how to prepare federal income tax returns for individuals and small to medium-size businesses in a basic tax preparation course. If you continue with an advanced tax preparation course, you’ll learn how to prepare more complex tax returns such as corporate tax returns. You’ll also learn how to develop tax strategies with your clients.

  • Which professional roles can also be tax preparers?

Anyone with a PTIN can work as a tax preparer. Attorneys and certified public accountants automatically become tax preparers with unlimited representation rights upon receiving licensure from their state. Enrolled agents, licensed by the IRS, can also be tax preparers.

  • What credentials do you need to get a ​​tax preparer license?

The credentials for certified tax preparers vary. Licensed attorneys need no extra credentials. Individuals looking to work as tax professionals can either become a CPA or an enrolled agent. EAs only need to pass the SEE, while CPAs need to pass the Uniform CPA Examination and complete educational and professional requirements set by their state.

  • What is the difference between a CPA and a certified tax preparer?

A CPA holds unlimited representation rights as a tax preparer. They can specialize in tax preparation or focus on financial advisory and accounting. Other certified tax preparers — like enrolled agents — focus exclusively on tax preparation. Both CPAs and EAs hold the same rights before the IRS, but their focuses may differ.

  • How many times can I take the tax certification exam?

EA candidates can take any part of the exam four times in each testing window (typically May to February). Individuals can retake the CPA exam as many times as needed, but most states expect candidates to pass each section within 18 months.

Is it hard to be a tax preparer?

Being a tax preparer might be a rather simple chore.

Is being a tax preparer worth it?

It brings in money.

What skills do you need to be a tax preparer?

Communication skills both in writing and speaking, Understanding of new and changing tax legislation, attention to detail, talents in bookkeeping and math.

Can you make money as a tax preparer?

The typical annual salary for tax preparers is $30,000.

How to become a Tax preparer near North carolina?

Enrol in a 60-hour qualifying education course from a CTEC certified.Get a $5,000 tax preparer bond from insurance agent then get an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number and Invest $33 in your registration.

How to become a tax preparer in mn?

Study in an educational programme that qualifies from a CTEC-certified provider. Get an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number, a $5,000 tax preparer bond from a surety and $33 in your registration.

How long does it take to become a tax preparer?

To become a tax preparer, you need to have five years of professional experience.

How to become a tax preparer in illinois?

Finish your entry-level schooling, then gain experience in customer service and enrol in tax preparation classes. To earn your CPA or EA certification, apply for your PTIN.