How to Become a Tax Preparer in Virginia

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There are two things in life that are certain--death and taxes. If you are looking to work in a field where there will always be work and you don't want to become a funeral director, consider starting a career in tax preparation. Each year hundreds of thousands of people are required to file tax returns, and many of them choose to have their taxes prepared by a professional. Preparing taxes is a great way to earn some extra income and meet some very interesting people. Find out how to get started preparing taxes in Virginia.

  • Learn to prepare taxes. Knowledge is crucial to becoming a successful tax preparer, and there are many places in Virginia where you can learn to prepare taxes. Tax service businesses, such as Jackson Hewitt or H&R Block, offer tax training during off months. You can also take tax classes at schools such as the Tidewater Community College and Virgina State University. Although it is not required, some institutions offer a certificate of completion to students who finish the tax course. The cost to take these classes can range anywhere from free tuition to several hundred dollars per class depending on where you enroll, so it is very important to choose the right class for you.

  • Apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number with the Internal Revenue Service. You will be required to enter this number on each return you prepare. Until you obtain a PTIN, you will need to use your Social Security number in its place. For additional information on obtaining a PTIN, see the IRS website. There is no charge for a PTIN.

  • Look for jobs in accounting firms, tax preparation businesses and government agencies. Many tax preparation businesses offer jobs to students of their tax training classes so update your resume once your classes are complete. You may even choose to work on your own and start up your own tax service business. If you plan on starting your own business, you will first need to obtain a Virginia business license. For additional information, visit the official website for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan on starting up your own tax service business, it is a good idea to purchase business insurance to protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Preparing fraudulent returns on behalf of a client could result in revocation of tax preparation privileges as well as civil and criminal action.

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