Tax preparation courses can be taken individually or as part of a full certificate program through distance learning or on-campus study. Taxation coursework is also found in undergraduate and graduate programs in areas like business administration, taxation or accounting. Students enrolled in a graduate program with taxation coursework usually have an undergraduate accounting degree already and are pursuing graduate study for job advancement as professional tax preparers and advisers.
Courses in tax preparation generally come in a tiered format, running from basic to advanced coursework. Students get practice completing tax forms, filing tax returns electronically, determining itemized deductions and dealing with the taxation implications of estate and trust transfers. Some schools offer individual courses geared toward those desiring to complete tax returns for individuals or small businesses alone.
Professional tax preparers who get paid for their work must meet IRS requirements. Aspiring tax preparers - other than attorneys and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) - typically need to become an Enrolled Agent (EA). This requires obtaining a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), submitting to a tax compliance check, passing a series of exams and completing continuing education.
Here are a few common concepts taught in tax preparation courses:
- Tax terminology
- Helping clients meet financial goals
- Tax law
- Limited liability companies (LLCs)
- Tax credits
List of Tax Preparation Courses
Principles of Taxation
A required course in tax preparation programs, this course introduces students to a broad range of tax-related concepts, including basic tax research, tax planning and tax preparation ethics. Coursework includes a study of the federal income tax system, depreciation, assets, gains and losses, interest and charitable contributions. In addition, avenues for resolution of tax issues with the IRS are explored.
This specialized tax preparation course is often an elective. Estate taxation students learn about the transfer of wealth through estates and trusts. They learn how to manage assets and arrange for the best possible conditions for an estate transfer while being mindful of tax liabilities.
Students of federal taxation study the basic tenets of the IRS tax code. Students learn how to interpret the IRS tax code and study case law as it relates to income taxes, including gains and losses, credits and deductions, charitable giving, sale and purchase of property and other assets. This is usually a required class.
This course encompasses relevant principles and practices of taxation throughout the life cycle of a partnership, from inception to dissolution. Coursework covers financial transactions of the partnership as well as transactions between the partnership and the partners. This class is typically a core course.
Businesses are a crucial part of the tax base, and a course in corporate taxation is a required class. Students study corporate dividends and distributions made to shareholders as they relate to taxes and other corporate-shareholder transactions. This is an advanced class; students need a basic tax course as prerequisite.