How to Become a Certified Tax Preparer Online

Dec 12, 2019

Certified Tax Preparer Career Overview

As a certified tax preparer you should have the knowledge and confidence to advise businesses and individuals on their tax claims, complete all necessary forms and file them. You may need a college certificate or postsecondary training to be hired as a tax preparer by employers, which can provide you with the credentials as a certified tax preparer. Many aspects of this training may be available online.

Required Skills Active listening, reading comprehension, critical thinking, speaking, complex problem solving
Job Growth* 6% for 2018-2028 (for Tax Preparer)
Median Salary (2018)* $39,390 per year (for Tax Preparer)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps To Become a Certified Tax Preparer Online

Although some employers may train you on the job, many require a college certificate or postsecondary training in tax preparation in order to gain entry-level employment. There are many fully online programs, leading to an exam that is required for certification, such as the National Bookkeepers Association Tax Certification Exam.

Step 1. Obtain Certified Tax Preparer Training Online

Online tax preparation training teaches the technical side of tax preparation, such as gross income calculations, tax credits, and tax deductions, but also discusses skills for interviewing clients as you assist them in filling out tax forms or as you prepare forms for them. Training is often available online and involves using self-study materials, such as e-books, videos, and case studies to learn preparation of the main tax forms. Class materials may be reviewed in online discussions for better learning outcomes. Program length for fully online training varies as programs may take 8 weeks up to 12 months where pacing is up to the student to allow for flexibility.

Potential training packages that may be offered include:

  • Federal Income Tax Course
  • Federal and State Income Tax Course
  • Introduction to Tax Preparation

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) also offers online training for professionals, enrolled agents, students, seniors, etc., to serve as tax preparation volunteers. Certification areas may include the following:

  • Basic
  • Advanced
  • Puerto Rico
  • Foreign Students
  • Military
  • International
  • Health Savings Accounts

To stay current in tax law or to acquire further specializations, certified tax preparers often take continuing professional education (CPE) courses. Many of the same organizations that offer basic training also include CPE certifications.

Step 2. Take Tax Preparer Certification Exams Online

At the end of the training, students need to pass certification exams. These may be offered online, such as the National Bookkeepers Association Tax Certification Exam or the IRS volunteer certification tests. CPE tests can generally be taken online, as well, to gain additional certification credentials.

Step 3. Register with the Internal Revenue Services Online

In order to work as a certified tax preparer who is paid to complete and file tax returns on behalf of a client, you need a preparer tax identification number, which is then associated with each completed tax return. This number can be obtained online from the IRS. There is no fee associated with this service and the online application process takes only about 15 minutes.

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