Tax Preparer Classes and Degree Programs

Training as a paid tax preparer may allow you to earn extra money during tax season. If you prefer to volunteer your services, you may obtain training through home-based courses offered by the Internal Revenue Service or classroom instruction provided by organizations approved by the IRS. Keep reading to learn more about classes and degree programs relevant to tax preparation. Schools offering Accounting - Taxation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Multiple programs, ranging from voluntary training to Master's degrees, can prepare you to be a tax preparer. Classifications include: Registered Tax Return Preparer, Enrolled Agent, Non-1040 Preparer, Supervised Preparer, Certified Public Accountants and Licensed Attorney. Regardless of the degree, program or classification, all IRS tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number.

Programs Commercial tax preparation for tax preparers; independent or college-affiliated tax preparation programs; volunteer training through organizations owned or approved by the IRS.
Degrees Certificate in Tax Accounting; Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Accounting with a Specialization in Taxation.
Certification IRS tax preparers must hold a Preparer Tax Identification Number

What is a Tax Preparer?

As a Registered Tax Return Preparer for the IRS, you can use information such as W-2 forms, bank statements and other financial information to complete federal income tax returns for your customers or clients. In most cases, to obtain and maintain RTRP status, you must earn a passing grade on the IRS test for RTRPs and complete 15 hours of continuing education every year. You could also become an Enrolled Agent, which would require you to complete a specialized exam and earn 72 credit hours of continuing education every three years.

There are several other classifications for tax preparers, including non-1040 preparers, supervised preparers, Certified Public Accountants and licensed attorneys. None of these classifications requires completing a test with the IRS, though continuing education and practicing rights vary.

What Kinds of Degree Programs Are There?

You may earn a certificate in tax accounting or an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in or related to accounting with a specialization in taxation. Many degree programs require you to complete most, if not all, of your coursework on campus. However, some programs offer the option to complete your studies online, including IRS examination preparation courses.

An important aspect of your coursework will typically involve learning how to implement Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in recording financial transactions. At the undergraduate level, you can complete coursework in individual and corporate tax returns, cost analysis, financial management and auditing. Graduate level programs can place a greater emphasis on taxation, including courses in corporate taxation, tax planning, international taxes and estate taxation.

What Other Class Options Do I Have?

Non-academic options are also available for obtaining training to become a tax preparer. Commercial tax preparation services offer training for tax preparers who either work for the company or independently. You may also choose a tax preparation program that operates independently or is affiliated with a college or university.

Volunteer training is available through organizations owned or approved by the IRS and on the IRS website. Classroom-based instruction usually begins in the fall or winter prior to the following tax season. You may begin online or CD-based classes at any time. You do not need a PTIN, but you must pass a test administered by the IRS. You may earn Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, International, Military or Puerto Rico certification, but you may not use volunteer tax preparation training to become a paid tax preparer.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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