First time preparing taxes this season and need advice


O

Ofir Gabay

I want to prepare taxes this upcoming season. I am going to be doing
this for the first time and really have no experience beside filing my
own basic return for a couple years. I have an undergraduate degree in
accounting and have taken a couple basic tax courses.

Should I look to join one of the big tax places (H&R, Jackson Hewitt,
Liberty Tax)? And if so which one would be the best to join as a
beginner? Should I just try to go solo and do things through the IRS
website (register for PTIN and take their exam)? Or should I try to
get a job at a CPA firm (I don't know how easy that would be since I
have no experience)? Any advice would be helpful.
 
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A

Arthur Kamlet

I want to prepare taxes this upcoming season. I am going to be doing
this for the first time and really have no experience beside filing my
own basic return for a couple years. I have an undergraduate degree in
accounting and have taken a couple basic tax courses.

Should I look to join one of the big tax places (H&R, Jackson Hewitt,
Liberty Tax)? And if so which one would be the best to join as a
beginner? Should I just try to go solo and do things through the IRS
website (register for PTIN and take their exam)? Or should I try to
get a job at a CPA firm (I don't know how easy that would be since I
have no experience)? Any advice would be helpful.

I assume you want to become a paid tax preparer?


If not, if you wish to start with volunteering, then both IRS and
AARP and some others sponsor their own volunteer programs, and
will train you and supply free training materials and usually lend you
laptops and software. If this appeals to you, just let us know and
we can let you know where to look. There are several topics, such as
rental income, Alternative Minimum tax, depreciation, and Net Operating
Losses, that are not part of these programs, but then a first year
tax associate at a nationwide firm would probably not see many of these
returns either.


To be a paid tax prparer requires that you obtain a PTIN. By 2013 you
will also have to become a Registered Tax Return Preparer, unless you
are an attorney, a CPA or an Enrolled Agent. A RTRP has passed an
examination and takes at least 15 hours of continuing education annually.


Exception: If you work for an attorney, CPA or EA firm, and such person
supervises your work and signs each tax return you prepare, you are
not required to become a RTRP.


Taking an introductory tax prep course given by one of the nationwide
firms is probably the most practical way to become a paid preparer
for this coming season. But hurry. In our area, a major firm has
already begun its course.


If you prepare 11 or more tax returns for money you must e-file them
(although there are limited exceptions to this rule.) If you do not
work for a firm engaged in efiling, you will have to arrange to be
issued an EFIN including the fingerprinting, which I learned this
week you can ask any UPS store to arrange for you.
 
O

Oliver P Shagnasty

Ofir Gabay said:
I want to prepare taxes this upcoming season. I am going to be doing
this for the first time and really have no experience beside filing my
own basic return for a couple years. I have an undergraduate degree in
accounting and have taken a couple basic tax courses.

Should I look to join one of the big tax places (H&R, Jackson Hewitt,
Liberty Tax)? And if so which one would be the best to join as a
beginner? Should I just try to go solo and do things through the IRS
website (register for PTIN and take their exam)? Or should I try to
get a job at a CPA firm (I don't know how easy that would be since I
have no experience)? Any advice would be helpful.
__________
If you could get a job with a CPA firm, that would be best, but it would be
difficult to find one that would hire you. However, if you take the H&R
Block tax course it is highly likely that they would hire you. They pay
minimum wage for the hours you work, and they pay you a percentage of the
fees charged for the returns you prepare if it exceeds the minimum wages.
After a year or two with Block you could then open your own tax practice.
JH and Liberty may have similar programs to train preparers.
 
O

Ofir Gabay

I assume you want to become a paid tax preparer?

If not, if you wish to start with volunteering, then both IRS and
AARP and some others sponsor their own volunteer programs, and
will train you and supply free training materials and usually lend you
laptops and software.   If this appeals to you, just let us know and
we can let you know where to look.   There are several topics, such as
rental income, Alternative Minimum tax, depreciation, and Net Operating
Losses, that are not part of these programs, but then a first year
tax associate at a nationwide firm would probably not see many of these
returns either.

To be a paid tax prparer requires that you obtain a PTIN. By 2013 you
will also have to become a Registered Tax Return Preparer, unless you
are an attorney, a CPA or an Enrolled Agent.  A RTRP has passed an
examination and takes at least 15 hours of continuing education annually.

Exception: If you work for an attorney, CPA or EA firm, and such person
supervises your work and signs each tax return you prepare, you are
not required to become a RTRP.

Taking an introductory tax prep course given by one of the nationwide
firms is probably the most practical way to become a paid preparer
for this coming season.  But hurry.  In our area, a major firm has
already begun its course.

If you prepare 11 or more tax returns for money you must e-file them
(although there are limited exceptions to this rule.)  If you do not
work for a firm engaged in efiling, you will have to arrange to be
issued an EFIN including the fingerprinting, which I learned this
week you can ask any UPS store to arrange for you.
I got in contact with the VITA program with the IRS and I know they
have classes, I just wasn't sure how in depth it was. Actually, they
just called me back this morning. I got an e-mail back from liberty
tax and they say their course is free but the books cost $150. I am OK
with paying the money if it is a good firm and I am going to get good
training.

I am working towards my CPA license and that is the path I want my
career to follow FWIW.
 
A

Arthur Rubin

Block tax course it is highly likely that they would hire you.  They pay
minimum wage for the hours you work, and they pay you a percentage of the
fees charged for the returns you prepare if it exceeds the minimum wages.
After a year or two with Block you could then open your own tax practice.
JH and Liberty may have similar programs to train preparers.
It used to be the case that H&R Block had a rather expansive non-
compete agreement that you had to sign. In addition to a permanent
ban on seeking to prepare or preparing a return of a client you
contacted through H&R Block, there was a 4 year and 50 miles
restriction. That is, for 4 years after you retired from H&R Block,
you couldn't prepare a return within 50 miles of where you prepared
your returns for them. I don't know if they've relaxed the
requirements, and I do know that some states make such an expansive
non-compete unenforcable.

Arthur L. Rubin
(now a 1L at Western State University)
 
R

removeps-groups

It used to be the case that H&R Block had a rather expansive non-
compete agreement that you had to sign.  In addition to a permanent
ban on seeking to prepare or preparing a return of a client you
contacted through H&R Block, there was a 4 year and 50 miles
restriction.  That is, for 4 years after you retired from H&R Block,
you couldn't prepare a return within 50 miles of where you prepared
your returns for them.  I don't know if they've relaxed the
requirements, and I do know that some states make such an expansive
non-compete unenforcable.
Non-compete clauses are mostly void in California. You may read about
it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-compete_clause#United_States

Also, if you happen to be in CA, then in addition to the IRS
requirements mentioned, you need CTEC requirements. You have to do a
60 hour course, and 20 hour continuing class each year, and pay an
annual $25 fee, and you need a $5000 bond which I think costs around
$150 every 5 years.
 
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S

Stuart Bronstein

Arthur said:
It used to be the case that H&R Block had a rather expansive non-
compete agreement that you had to sign. In addition to a permanent
ban on seeking to prepare or preparing a return of a client you
contacted through H&R Block, there was a 4 year and 50 miles
restriction. That is, for 4 years after you retired from H&R Block,
you couldn't prepare a return within 50 miles of where you prepared
your returns for them. I don't know if they've relaxed the
requirements, and I do know that some states make such an expansive
non-compete unenforcable.
Depending on the state you live in, a non-compete like that may or may
not be legally enforceable. In California, for example, it's clearly
not. Check with a local business lawyer to ask about the laws in your
particular state.
 
O

Ofir Gabay

Thanks for the information. I called H&R yesterday and they told me
that the classes are currently full. I also spoke with someone from
Liberty Tax today about a class that is starting on Monday. He
mentioned that taking the class and passing does not guarantee a job
at that office, or any of their offices for that matter. From what I
gather H&R also works this way. I am reluctant to sign up for one of
these classes for the fear of completing the course and not getting
hired by the office, after all it seems like the classes are getting
filled. Any advice would be appreciated, anyone have any experience
with this? I also have the option of working with VITA and thinking
about doing this anyways as it will be a good experience and would be
nice to add volunteering to my resume. Any thoughts?

I really want to devote time to tax preparation this upcoming tax
season but I am just unsure of which path to take. BTW I live in
Florida and will have to research the stance on non-compete clauses.
Thanks again.
 
R

removeps-groups

I really want to devote time to tax preparation this upcoming tax
season but I am just unsure of which path to take. BTW I live in
Florida and will have to research the stance on non-compete clauses.
Thanks again.
The wikipedia link I gave you talks about Florida too. It's so basic,
and is just a starting point for your investigation though.

BEGIN QUOTE

Florida

The enforceability of non-compete agreements in the state of Florida
is quite common. Some law firms build their law practice around these
agreements and represent employees, employers and potential new
employers of an employee currently bound by a non-compete agreement.
The agreement is not allowed to be overly broad and generally
difficult to enforce if it is for more than two years. Also if the
agreement is part of a general employment contract then there is the
possibility of a Pre-Breach by an employer. This may cause the non-
compete clause of the contract to become unenforceable.[citation
needed]

END QUOTE
 
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