Tax preparer classes are offered through a community college, business school or other type of training organization. Courses may be part of a certificate program or taken individually for specific types of tax preparation. Depending on the course or certificate program, students may be prepared for IRS certification. To gain certification as an Enrolled Agent, individuals need to pass a comprehensive income tax exam, and continuing education is needed to maintain this title. Those who are attorneys or Certified Public Accountants don't need to take the exam to prepare tax returns.
Tax preparation certificate programs include introductory through advanced courses. Students participate in tax return simulations to practice applying their knowledge.
Here's an outline of common concepts taught in tax preparer courses:
- Electronic Filing
- Interview Techniques
- Filing Requirements
- Due Diligence
- Exemptions and Dependents
- Itemized Deductions
- Tax Law Updates
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List of Courses
Basic Tax Preparation Course
This course provides information about who is required to file tax returns, what type of returns to file and the role of a tax preparer. Students learn techniques for interviewing and accessing information from clients. This course may also include specific information pertinent to the current tax year, such as amendments and special tax credits. Specific areas of study throughout this course may include forms W-2, 1099 and 1040, electronic versus paper filing, itemized deductions, requirements for filing and filing status. Students in this course may also spend time using software for tax professionals.
Upon completion of this course, a tax preparer should be able to help individuals work through tax exemptions, deductions and income adjustments. Students may also be able to sit for the basic IRS certification exam.
Students who want additional information for preparing taxes beyond the basic level will move to an intermediate tax preparation course. This course delves into more complex returns. In addition to the basic level tax preparation skills, this class covers social security benefits, pension income and filing requirements for those who are self-employed or contracted employees. Specific skills may also be developed related to individuals who own their own home, additional itemized deductions, form Schedule A and self-employee business expenses. Upon completion of this course, students may wish to sit for the intermediate IRS certification exam.
An advanced tax preparation course is ideal for those who wish to take the advanced IRS certification exam. This course covers complex concepts in tax preparation. Specific skills will be developed in forms Schedule C, Schedule D and Schedule E. Students will also learn advanced concepts in filing for self-employed individuals such as additional expenses, write-offs, home office credits and depreciation of equipment or property. Additional information may also be covered to include taxes for rental properties, sale of homes, new car purchases, capital gains or losses and retirement account dividends.