how to become a tax preparer


J

John D. Goulden

I'm a long-time lurker in this ng and am generally
fascinated by US tax law. I'm also a full-time university
professor who desires to increase both my knowledge and my
income by becoming a seasonal, part-time tax preparer. The
question is, how to begin? I've had a couple of suggestions:
take the H&R Block eleven-week course and try to get on with
them as a seasonal preparer (suggested by a CPA friend who
moonlights for H&R Block et al), or prepare for the IRS
Enrolled Agent exam (suggested by a friend who is an ER). Or
both, in that order.

I'm sure it's too late to be ready for the upcoming season
but I would like to be ready to work by late 06-early 07.
Any suggestions?

TIA
Feel free to reply to my email as well as the ng.
 
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H

Harlan Lunsford

John said:
I'm a long-time lurker in this ng and am generally
fascinated by US tax law. I'm also a full-time university
professor who desires to increase both my knowledge and my
income by becoming a seasonal, part-time tax preparer. The
question is, how to begin? I've had a couple of suggestions:
take the H&R Block eleven-week course and try to get on with
them as a seasonal preparer (suggested by a CPA friend who
moonlights for H&R Block et al), or prepare for the IRS
Enrolled Agent exam (suggested by a friend who is an ER). Or
both, in that order.

I'm sure it's too late to be ready for the upcoming season
but I would like to be ready to work by late 06-early 07.
Any suggestions?
I hereby second both notions above. From all accounts the
Block course is a really good basic one. Is it really too
late even now to wedge yourself into one? Check it out.

And of course I recommend going for EA status (you said "ER" above,
so I hope I read you right). Actually it may be possible to start
studying now without the Block course even to prepare for the next SEE
(that's the EA exam) next year about this time. You can find on
the IRS web site examples of past exams, also order appropriate
publications to help in your study. also check out the (brand new!)
NAEA website: www.naea.org

You didn't say what your university field is, but most
universities I have heard allow faculty to take courses free
of charge (someone correct this impression if it's wrong).

Good luck and keep in touch.

ChEAr$,
Harlan Lunsford, EA n LA
 
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B

Bill

(e-mail address removed) (John=A0D.=A0Goulden) asked:
I'm a long-time lurker in this ng and am
generally fascinated by US tax law. I'm also a
full-time university professor who desires to
increase both my knowledge and my income
by becoming a seasonal, part-time tax
preparer. The question is, how to begin? I've
had a couple of suggestions: take the H&R
Block eleven-week course and try to get on
with them as a seasonal preparer (suggested
by a CPA friend who moonlights for H&R
Block et al), or prepare for the IRS Enrolled
Agent exam (suggested by a friend who is an
ER). Or both, in that order.
I'm sure it's too late to be ready for the
upcoming season but I would like to be ready
to work by late 06-early 07. Any suggestions?
In terms of time available, it's technically not too late to
complete an eleven-week course, if there's one _starting_
within the next week or two -- which depends on your
location, I suppose.

But here's a _free_ option, that would give you an
introductory course in tax preparation (for individual
returns only -- no corporate or business): Volunteer with
AARP Tax-Aide. They'll conduct six-day, intensive courses
in early January. That would give you a minimal
understanding of the process, and if you proceed to actually
work as a volunteer at least one day a week during the tax
season, you would gain valuable experience that might help
you decide whether you want to invest more time and any
money.

Tax-Aide volunteers (of which I am one) are compensated for
their mileage expense only.

If you apply yourself, continue to lurk in this group and
read the threads, and also use the course materials made
available by the IRS for the Tax-Aide program, you could
become quite proficient. That won't prepare you to hang out
a shingle as a paid preparer (in fact, you'll have to sign a
document promising _not_ to accept payment for your
services, in return for receiving the training); but it will
give you some good practical "taxpayer-interaction" and
certainly help you prepare your own taxes.

Helping taxpayers has been a most rewarding experience for
me, and I value the friendships which have arisen with other
volunteers and with some loyal "customers" whom I have
helped for more than 10 years, in some cases.

I do know others who have become motivated, and gone on to
take commercial courses and become professional
tax-preparers.

Bill
 
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J

JMc

I actually learned by doing. When in college I hated my tax
class and the D I got reflected how much I hated it.

My senior year in college I took an internship as a tax
preparer (I think only because that was the only thing
available during the spring semester). I'm glad I did since
after the internship I realized that taxes is where I wanted
to be.

I'm now a CPA working for a nice regional firm in their tax
department.

My thoughts would be go with the H&R Block course, then get
out there and learn more by doing. Then go and study to
become an EA if you really are interested.

As a matter of fact, our firm sends some of its clerical
people to take the H&R Block course so they can help out
during busy season.

Josh
 
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M

Missy

John said:
I'm a long-time lurker in this ng and am generally
fascinated by US tax law. I'm also a full-time university
professor who desires to increase both my knowledge and my
income by becoming a seasonal, part-time tax preparer. The
question is, how to begin? I've had a couple of suggestions:
take the H&R Block eleven-week course and try to get on with
them as a seasonal preparer (suggested by a CPA friend who
moonlights for H&R Block et al), or prepare for the IRS
Enrolled Agent exam (suggested by a friend who is an ER). Or
both, in that order.

I'm sure it's too late to be ready for the upcoming season
but I would like to be ready to work by late 06-early 07.
Any suggestions?
If it is too late for HR Block course this year, a good way
for you to get your feet wet is to volunteer for the local
VITA program. If your library does not know who to contact,
call (800) 829-1040 and ask to speak with the VITA person in
charge. I did this for 15 years in three different states
and it gave me a lot of experience.

Missy Doyle
 
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A

Arthur Kamlet

John D. Goulden said:
I'm a long-time lurker in this ng and am generally
fascinated by US tax law. I'm also a full-time university
professor who desires to increase both my knowledge and my
income by becoming a seasonal, part-time tax preparer. The
question is, how to begin? I've had a couple of suggestions:
take the H&R Block eleven-week course and try to get on with
them as a seasonal preparer (suggested by a CPA friend who
moonlights for H&R Block et al), or prepare for the IRS
Enrolled Agent exam (suggested by a friend who is an ER). Or
both, in that order.

I'm sure it's too late to be ready for the upcoming season
but I would like to be ready to work by late 06-early 07.
Any suggestions?
I think Block has started their usual fall 13-week class,
though it might be possible they also run a later class.
Call and ask. The text and exams are reasonable material to
use to get started preparing taxes for individuals.

Other tax services, such as Jackson Hewett also run classes
though my experience with returns filed by them is not on a
par with HRB.

If you want to just stick your toe in the water, so to
speak, take the volunteer tax counselor course for the IRS
VITA program or the AARP Taxaide program. That's an
abbreviated program dealing with low-income families, or
low-moderate income elderly taxpayers, and while it usually
doesn't cover Schedules E, F, H, or C (but does cover Sch
C-EZ and SE) it is a good introduction to tax preparation.

Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to ask about getting an
invitation to the VITA class or email the TaxAide folks at
(e-mail address removed) or get a schedule of their TaxAide course.

Courses typically are in January and run about a week
including sample tax preparation and exams. Their tax season
is Feb 1 through April 15 or next business day. No money,
but it's a good feeling doing volunteer tax prep for these
clients.

__
Art Kamlet ArtKamlet @ AOL.com Columbus OH K2PZH
 
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G

gcrofton

I would recommend starting by taking the H&R Block Income
Tax Class (referred to as Basic). You will also get good
experience working for them which will help you prepare to
take the special enrollment exam or SEE (also referred to EA
exam)to become an Enrolled Agent. As of Sept. 30th it is
not too late to take the Block course or work in the
upcoming tax season. For a class in your area see

https://taxpro.hrblock.com/taxproConsumerWebApp/consumer/getNewLocationSearch.do?sellCode=
 
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U

ukcats4218016

I think Block has started their usual fall 13-week class,
though it might be possible they also run a later class.
Call and ask. The text and exams are reasonable material to
use to get started preparing taxes for individuals.

Other tax services, such as Jackson Hewett also run classes
though my experience with returns filed by them is not on a
par with HRB.

If you want to just stick your toe in the water, so to
speak, take the volunteer tax counselor course for the IRS
VITA program or the AARP Taxaide program. That's an
abbreviated program dealing with low-income families, or
low-moderate income elderly taxpayers, and while it usually
doesn't cover Schedules E, F, H, or C (but does cover Sch
C-EZ and SE) it is a good introduction to tax preparation.

Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to ask about getting an
invitation to the VITA class or email the TaxAide folks at
(e-mail address removed) or get a schedule of their TaxAide course.

Courses typically are in January and run about a week
including sample tax preparation and exams. Their tax season
is Feb 1 through April 15 or next business day. No money,
but it's a good feeling doing volunteer tax prep for these
clients.
Have you ever done anything with the AARP tax aide program?
I've heard good things but have never had any experience
with it. How is it?
 
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D

Don Priebe

Have you ever done anything with the AARP tax aide program?
I've heard good things but have never had any experience
with it. How is it?
The training for the AARP/TCE program is potentially the
same as the training for the VITA program - they use the
same text (Pub 678) and the same exam. Theoretically VITA
is designed to serve low income working people while TCE is
designed to serve low income seniors. Everyone studies the
basics, but some subjects in the text (EIC, Child Credit)
are required for VITA but optional for TCE, while other
subjects (SS taxability, 1099-R) are just the opposite. The
exam has four parts - basic, working, retired, and military.
You are "certified" in those areas that you pass.

Practically, since both VITA and TCE are government funded
programs, they cannot discriminate based on social class. So
both sites get all types of clients. All of our TCE
volunteers are trained and certified in both the TCE and
VITA areas. Probably a regional thing as to which program is
the most active in a given locality.

The text book is on-line. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p678.pdf
 
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A

Arthur Kamlet

If you want to just stick your toe in the water, so to
Have you ever done anything with the AARP tax aide program?
I've heard good things but have never had any experience
with it. How is it?
For quite a few years I have been involved with the AARP
TaxAide program, and highly recommend it.

For this program, I volunteer as a tax counselor, an
instructor, the instructor for the instructor's class, as an
on-line tax counselor and on-line reviewer, answering and
reviewing other answers on the AARP's TaxAide Q&A Bulletin
Board www.aarp.org/taxaide

The textbooks used are prepared by the IRS and reviewed by
both VITA and Taxaide volunteers, and the tests and problems
are pretty much the same.

The tests/problems fall into four parts:

- Basic -- mandatory for all tax counselors
- Pension Earner - mandatory for TCE & TaxAide counselors
- Wage Earners - mandatory for VITA volunteers
- Military personel - mandatory if volunteering on or near
a military base

Here in Central Ohio, our TaxAide admin folks require that a
tax counselor must pass the basic, the wage earner and the
pension parts of the test. Perhaps in other areas, the
TaxAide counsleors are not required to pass the Wage Earner
part.

The IRS issues a limited number of laptops and unlimited
TaxWise packages to volunteers who have passed the tests and
are certified, but at the end of the season, the data has to
be erased and laptops returned. AARP issues their own
laptops and has similar rules. Both programs encourage but
do not require e-filing. Tax returns prepared in the VITA or
TCE programs are identified by use of a special Tax Preparer
number. This is the letter S followed by 8 digits. Actually
it is shared by all tax preparers at a volunteer site.

I heartly recommend both the VITA and the TaxAide programs,
but have a preference myself for the VITA program due to its
wider variety of tax issues, none of them very complex.

__
Art Kamlet ArtKamlet @ AOL.com Columbus OH K2PZH
 
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M

Missy

I have. The first year we (a group of retired people and
me) did the volunteering at the local library, it was under
AARP-TCE. One day toward the end of the tax season the AARP
guy came in from Louisville and looked around and asked why
we had all those young people there (for their taxes to be
filled out). After he left we volunteers went over our list
of taxpayers that we had helped that year and had only 3 out
of 300 that were over age 65. We decided to go with VITA
the next year and all years after that.

By the way I am a huge UK Cats fan myself. That is where I
am from and where I went to college. Bring on the
Basketball!!

Missy Doyle

Moderator: My blood runs Carolina Blue!
 
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