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.