Jobs in the tax industry


D

Dave Buck

I just finished my first year in the tax industry. After
completing H&R Block's 11-week income tax course in the
fall, I was hired as a tax preparer here in the
Raleigh-Durham area, North Carolina and worked for the
entire tax season. It was a reasonably satisfactory
experience - except the pay. I ended up making about $2000
for 200 hours of work, or about $10 per hour. Right now, I'm
thinking about next tax season. Are there jobs out there for
young tax preparers with one year of experience at H&R
Block? Jobs that pay better than $10 per hour? I'm going to
participate in Block's continuing education program this
fall, if that helps.
 
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V

Vic Dura

RE: Jobs in the tax industry
I ended up making about $2000
for 200 hours of work, or about $10 per hour.
Was that as a W2 employee or a 1099-Misc contractor?
 
H

Helen P. OPlanick EA

I just finished my first year in the tax industry. After
completing H&R Block's 11-week income tax course in the
fall, I was hired as a tax preparer here in the
Raleigh-Durham area, North Carolina and worked for the
entire tax season. It was a reasonably satisfactory
experience - except the pay. I ended up making about $2000
for 200 hours of work, or about $10 per hour. Right now, I'm
thinking about next tax season. Are there jobs out there for
young tax preparers with one year of experience at H&R
Block? Jobs that pay better than $10 per hour? I'm going to
participate in Block's continuing education program this
fall, if that helps.
Probably. But watch yourself. You signed a non-compete
with HRB and you may have trouble, especially if you are a
good preparer. And if you take their update class and
leave, that will cause the lawsuit light to shine even
brighter on you.

I was sued by HRB many moons ago and between legal fees, and
paying them off, it ended well, but those first few years
out were rather lean.

Helen, EA in PA
Member of The Tax Gang
Director, National Assoication of Enrolled Agents
Immediate Past President, PA Society of Enrolled Agents
 
A

Arthur L. Rubin

Dave said:
I just finished my first year in the tax industry. After
completing H&R Block's 11-week income tax course in the
fall, I was hired as a tax preparer here in the
Raleigh-Durham area, North Carolina and worked for the
entire tax season. It was a reasonably satisfactory
experience - except the pay. I ended up making about $2000
for 200 hours of work, or about $10 per hour. Right now, I'm
thinking about next tax season. Are there jobs out there for
young tax preparers with one year of experience at H&R
Block? Jobs that pay better than $10 per hour?
Watch out for non-compete agreements. I don't know if
they're still in the Block contract, or if such agreements
are enforceable in NC, but....
 
W

Wayne Brasch

Dave Buck said:
I just finished my first year in the tax industry. After
completing H&R Block's 11-week income tax course in the
fall, I was hired as a tax preparer here in the
Raleigh-Durham area, North Carolina and worked for the
entire tax season. It was a reasonably satisfactory
experience - except the pay. I ended up making about $2000
for 200 hours of work, or about $10 per hour. Right now, I'm
thinking about next tax season. Are there jobs out there for
young tax preparers with one year of experience at H&R
Block? Jobs that pay better than $10 per hour? I'm going to
participate in Block's continuing education program this
fall, if that helps.
I would say that would depend on how well you present and
sell yourself and your tax knowledge to a prospective
employer. Why not consider going on your own and buying
some tax preparation software? Buy a good one-not some of
those you see in the software stores.

Wayne Brasch, CPA, M. S. Taxation
 
R

RAYMOND MORGAN

Dave Buck said:
I just finished my first year in the tax industry. After
completing H&R Block's 11-week income tax course in the
fall, I was hired as a tax preparer here in the
Raleigh-Durham area, North Carolina and worked for the
entire tax season. It was a reasonably satisfactory
experience - except the pay. I ended up making about $2000
for 200 hours of work, or about $10 per hour. Right now, I'm
thinking about next tax season. Are there jobs out there for
young tax preparers with one year of experience at H&R
Block? Jobs that pay better than $10 per hour? I'm going to
participate in Block's continuing education program this
fall, if that helps.
If you worked the whole tax season (about 16 weeks depending
on when you started), that averages to about 12.5 hours per
week and you averaged $10 an hour for an entry level first
year preparer, I think that's pretty good. It's either been
a long time since you started in an entry level position or
you are making a lot more then that at your "real" job. By
the way, does that include your end-of-the-season bonus that
will be paid in May?

Kathy
 
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F

Frank S. Duke, Jr.

Dave said:
Are there jobs out there for
young tax preparers with one year of experience at H&R
Block? Jobs that pay better than $10 per hour? I'm going to
participate in Block's continuing education program this
fall, if that helps.
You won't get rich preparing tax returns. I am a self
employed CPA with 9 years of experience in the tax business.
At age 60, I have been retired from another line of work
for 4 years so I only work during tax season and do a little
tax and retirement consulting. I have about 45 clients, most
with net worth more than $1 million and my average return is
$355. After expenses, I am lucky to net $12,000 for the
season. I enjoy it, particularly the nice people I work
with and it helps keep my old brain alive but it wouldn't
feed a family.

All freely provided advice guarantee correct or double your money back

Frank S. Duke, Jr. CPA
Cincinnati, OH USA
 
D

David Ebbole

If you worked the whole tax season (about 16 weeks depending
on when you started), that averages to about 12.5 hours per
week and you averaged $10 an hour for an entry level first
year preparer, I think that's pretty good. It's either been
a long time since you started in an entry level position or
you are making a lot more then that at your "real" job. By
the way, does that include your end-of-the-season bonus that
will be paid in May?
That is what I was going to ask. I work for block and
haven't even got my last pay check yet, let alone my bonus
check.

And don't forget each year you work for block you percentage
of pay will go up.

David
 
D

Dave Buck

I just finished my first year in the tax industry. After
Probably. But watch yourself. You signed a non-compete
with HRB and you may have trouble, especially if you are a
good preparer. And if you take their update class and
leave, that will cause the lawsuit light to shine even
brighter on you.
The non-compete contract says only that I can't take clients
I met at HRB and do their taxes outside of HRB, which I
certainly won't do. It doesn't say that I can't be a non-HRB
tax preparer at all (that's what they told us it said, but I
read the contract very carefully before signing it, and it
doesn't say that).
I was sued by HRB many moons ago and between legal fees, and
paying them off, it ended well, but those first few years
out were rather lean.
Was it for breaking a non-compete agreement? How did they
find you?
 
D

Dave Buck

I would say that would depend on how well you present and
sell yourself and your tax knowledge to a prospective
employer. Why not consider going on your own and buying
some tax preparation software? Buy a good one-not some of
those you see in the software stores.
I've thought about doing that. How does a tax preparer who's
not a CPA or EA get started and find clients? Can you
recommend a good book or web site on the topic?
 
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D

Dave Buck

If you worked the whole tax season (about 16 weeks depending
on when you started), that averages to about 12.5 hours per
week and you averaged $10 an hour for an entry level first
year preparer, I think that's pretty good. It's either been
a long time since you started in an entry level position or
you are making a lot more then that at your "real" job. By
the way, does that include your end-of-the-season bonus that
will be paid in May?
It certainly does include the bonus. Before the bonus, Block
pays $7 per hour.

You're right, $10 an hour isn't bad for a first year. The
problem is that there doesn't seem to be much chance that
wage will grow in the coming years. Only one veteran
preparer at the office where I worked made more hourly than
I did; some of the others didn't even do enough volume to
get a bonus (thus actually made $7 per hour).
 
C

cmkey

"I have a follow up question.

I have been a high level bookkeeper for over 20 years. I
have taken related college courses and adult ed courses in
accounting and business fields. I took the HRB class last
fall for my own use. (No way I could take a pay cut like
that to go to work or them.) I am finding the tax prep
field very interesting, partially evidenced by the lurking I
have done on this site and the things I've learned from you
folks.

I am interested in your recommendations of the best way to
further educate myself in the field and possibly get into
it. I have avoided pursuing a college degree because I
don't want to take the time to do Basket Weaving 101 just to
get through the base requirements. But if I have to change
my attitude I can.

What do you suggest? Thanks
 
H

Helen P. OPlanick EA

I was sued by HRB many moons ago and between legal fees, and
Was it for breaking a non-compete agreement? How did they
find you?
They knew we opened up. They had the office receptionist,
who we thought was a friend, call people and if they said
that their taxes were done, she buddied up to them and asked
them who did it. They got 3 clients that came to us. And
we could have won, PA is a right to work state, but the
legal fees were getting out of hand.

Helen, EA in PA
Member of The Tax Gang
Director, National Assoication of Enrolled Agents
Immediate Past President, PA Society of Enrolled Agents
 
A

Arthur L. Rubin

Dave said:
The non-compete contract says only that I can't take clients
I met at HRB and do their taxes outside of HRB, which I
certainly won't do. It doesn't say that I can't be a non-HRB
tax preparer at all (that's what they told us it said, but I
read the contract very carefully before signing it, and it
doesn't say that).
It DID say that when I considered it. Also the requirement
that you do your own taxes at HRB, and not do anyone else's
taxes for pay or for free (with an exception for VITA, I
believe), although your immediately family gets free or
discounted fees at HRB, means that you could not do taxes
for your immediately family for 2 years following your
employment.

However, they may have changed the non-compete.
 
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D

Dave Buck

David Ebbole said:
And don't forget each year you work for block you percentage
of pay will go up.
It goes up by less than one percentage point each year. In
your first year, they pay you 20% of 89% of your volume (why
they don't just say 17.8% of your volume, which is simpler
and mathematically equivalent, I have no idea). In your
second year, they pay you 21% of 89% of your volume, which
equals 18.69% of your volume. Not a huge jump.
 
E

Ed Zollars, CPA

Dave said:
I've thought about doing that. How does a tax preparer who's
not a CPA or EA get started and find clients? Can you
recommend a good book or web site on the topic?
In many ways, it's going to be the same as the way someone
who *is* a CPA or EA would open up shop. What those
designations help with is the marketing side of the
equation--explaining to a potential client why he/she should
believe you actually know something about tax matters.

I think most successful practitioners depend primarily on
client referrals, which creates a kind of "chicken/egg"
problem (you obviously have to have at least one client in
order to get a referral from a client <grin>). The big
issue is to get the word out both about your availability
and your skills, and work on contacts who will feel
comfortable suggesting you to their acquaintances.

You also need a clear idea about the type of practice you
plan to have. The tax law is one huge area, and no one can
handle all tax matters. You need to take a critical look at
your skill level (which types of returns are you qualified
to handle) and the target market you would expect to serve.

I would caution you not to attempt to play the "Wal-Mart"
game (I'll get into the business by low ball pricing) unless
you plan to start a high volume operation. The lower the
price per return, the less time you will be able to spend on
each one and the more returns you will need to do to achieve
the same level of profitability. As well, it should be
clear that in that market, having "cheap" staff to leverage
will be very useful.

Too often I see people try and start up a service business
who want to both offer highly personalized service *AND*
offer low pricing. In most cases, at the end of the day
they'd have been better compensated flipping hamburgers at
McDonalds for minimum wage <grin>.

For a small practice, I think you have to accept that
someone will always be willing to work for less than you--so
you need some reason for people to use you besides being the
least expensive alternative.

That doesn't mean you have to work the "high end" market
only--but you need to think beyond mere pricing. The one
thing that research tends to show time and time again among
CPAs is that the reason a tax client leaves a CPA is far
more likely to be "I don't believe Joe cared about me" than
"I think Joe charges too much."
 
M

MTW

Frank S. Duke said:
At age 60, I have been retired from another line of work
for 4 years so I only work during tax season and do a little
tax and retirement consulting. I have about 45 clients, most
with net worth more than $1 million and my average return is
$355. After expenses, I am lucky to net $12,000 for the
season.
Your financial results are pretty consistent with what I've
heard from other SEASONAL preparers. I can think of a couple
people who claim to net about $20,000. But that is probably
the "tops" unless you have other bookkeeping, accounting or
consulting work during the rest of the year.

MTW
 
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D

Dave Buck

Because $10/hr W2 nets only about $9.25/hr on Sch-C.
Block is generous enough to pay the employer's half of the
payroll tax. I wouldn't be shocked if that changed in the
future, though.
 

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