The job description of a tax preparer is not the same as a certified public accountant as the duties are more limited. A tax preparer assists businesses and individuals in preparing financial documents like tax returns in orderto comply with legal requirements.
A tax preparer often works for an accounting firm, a management department, an insurance carrier, a legal service or a private company, but a tax preparer can also work as an independent consultant too.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Tax Preparer
- Prepares income tax return forms for businesses and individuals.
- Reviews various financial records like income statements, receipts of expenditures and previous tax returns to determine a strategy for preparing current returns.
- Interviews clients to get information on deductible expenses, allowances and taxable income.
- Uses tax form instructions and tax tables to make proper entries on the tax form and compute the amount of taxes an individual or business owes.
- Consults tax resources and law books to obtain assistance with atypical returns.
- Verifies forms that individuals prepared themselves to check for errors or miscalculations.
- Calculates proper fee to charge each customer for tax preparation services based on the complexity of each form and the amount of time required for the work.
- Takes continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on changes in federal and state tax codes.
Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Displays exceptional mathematical skills and pays close attention to detail.
- Possesses excellent reading comprehension skills as well as superior problem-solving abilities.
- Has knowledge of tax law, legal codes, precedents, government regulations and Internal Revenue Service rules.
- Shows strong written and verbal communication skills and excellent organizational skills.
- Displays good office management skills like typing, filing and sorting data.
- Demonstrates sound judgment and has good decision-making abilities.
- Has knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and tax-related terminology.
- Exhibits strong deductive reasoning skills.
- Possesses knowledge of accepted accounting practicesand sound economic strategies.
Education and Experience
- High School diploma.
- Associate’s degree in business or accounting.
- Bachelor’s degree in accounting or economics.
- Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) designation from the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT).
- Certification from the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP).
- On-the-job training program from employer.
- Spends time in climate controlled private office or shared office space.
- Works regular hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Expands hours to evenings and weekends during busy tax season.
- Spends many hours keyboarding, manipulating a mouse and viewing a computer screen as well as reviewing hard copy paperwork from clients.
- Experiences higher levels of stress as the April 15 tax deadline approaches each year.
- The salary of a tax preparer can range from $25,000 to $60,000 per year depending on the difficulty of work handled by the employer and level of experience.
- Hourly wages can range from $9 an hour to $36 an hour.