How to Become a Tax Preparer—What Skills and Abilities Do You Need?
Wondering how to become a tax preparer in your overall career? A starting point to a full-time position could be seasonal tax work. The most successful seasonal tax preparers typically share some common traits, skills, and abilities. They are enthusiastic, empathetic, knowledgeable about federal and state tax law, comfortable being online, and they delight in providing excellent customer service. And filing a 1040 is not something most people completely understand; you get to be the hero who comes to their rescue, letting them know everything is going to be resolved and completed.
As you research the question, “How to become a tax preparer,” concentrate on the following three requirements to be hired as a remote seasonal tax preparer.
- Familiar with Working on Camera
You need to be comfortable being on camera providing support. This will be similar to meeting environments in Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting or BlueJeans.
These tools allow you to engage more meaningfully with customers. Most of the time customers need not only answers to tax questions, but your empathy and patience. Giving every customer your best efforts through active listening and communications means you are providing every customer an extraordinary experience. It is the key to success.
- Familiar with Tax Laws and Concepts
When you think about how to become a tax preparer, it’s basic that you must understand Form 1040 and related schedules. You must have a background that has prepared you to use online resources to research tricky tax questions and find the correct answers.
- Experience Working with Customers to Complete Tax Returns
As a remote seasonal tax preparer, you’re the expert—you’re the knight in shining armor. You can’t expect to learn on the job. Tax preparation is often a complex undertaking, and it can take several years to learn the basics. You can expect that potential employers will have minimum requirements for the number of years or the number of customers you’ve worked with in the past, or both. Tax preparation classes can’t take the place of hands-on experience.
If you’re good at doing your own taxes, or taxes for friends and relatives, that’s not enough experience to take on a professional position where people are paying you for tax insight or return preparation. Without that background, this position isn’t for you. In fact, many recruiters require 3+ seasons of paid tax experience and a minimum of 30 tax filings per year.
- The New Hard Skills
In the past, hard skills were things that could be demonstrated and measured. For example, in the tax preparation arena, a hard skill would be accurately preparing a Form 1040 and associated schedules. Soft skills were skills that are measured subjectively, such as interpersonal skills. When employers hired new employees, they often required hard skills, but weren’t as demanding when it came to soft skills.
In today’s business environment, there is a recognition that traditional soft skills are just as critical as hard skills in many job positions. Remote seasonal tax preparer is one of those positions where the hard skills aren’t of much use if an applicant doesn’t have the required soft skills.
The new hard skills required to become a remote seasonal tax preparer include:
- Communication skills
- Active listening
- Critical thinking
- Leadership skills
- Good with details
- Customer service orientation
- Putting the customer’s interests first
If you have the skills and abilities needed to be a remote seasonal tax preparer, but want to learn more, download our free guide.