Tax Preparation: A New Career Option for Displaced Bank & Financial Professionals?
By Charles E. McCabe, CEO, Peoples Income Tax, Inc.
A new career in income tax preparation could be a safety net for some of the thousands of bank and financial services employees who are losing their jobs due to the economic crisis. Many of those being laid off are older employees who would not be able to find another comparable full-time job, but are not ready to retire.
Tax professionals need many of the same qualifications that bankers and financial professionals possess. A tax preparer must be able to conduct a thorough interview to extract financial and personal information from his or her client and hold that information in complete confidence. Preparing income tax returns requires similar skills as completing banking, mortgage or investment documents. These jobs all require attention to detail, the ability to understand and interpret complex rules and to work with numbers and software programs. Good people skills and professionalism are also prerequisites. However, knowledge of accounting and math are not necessary to become a tax preparer. Preparing individual tax returns involves only basic arithmetic.
Today more than ever, people are relying on paid tax professionals to handle their income tax preparation and other business affairs. Even with tax preparation software in full force there is increasing demand for tax professionals. More than 75 million individual taxpayers use a paid tax professional every year, as the tax laws continue to become more complicated. Shorter deadlines, competing priorities, endless meetings, wireless Internet, and cell phones all contribute to creating a more time-starved world. As we struggle with managing the elusive resource of “time”, coupled with ever-changing tax laws, delegation of tax preparation becomes a higher priority. Many people are turning to professional tax preparers for assistance. E-filing, automation and even demographic changes have also created new opportunities in the tax preparation industry. However, there has been a shortage of qualified seasonal tax professionals due to increased competition and the low unemployment rates we have enjoyed in recent years.
Tax preparation can be a very lucrative seasonal career, either as an employee of a tax or accounting firm, or as an independent tax practitioner. A veteran tax professional can earn up to $100 per hour or more during tax season. Tax preparation can also be combined with other professions, such as bookkeeping and financial services, to create year-round employment or self-employment if desired.
After completing just one 10-week course a career in tax preparation can be launched. Continued career growth can then be attained by gaining experience and continuing professional education in advanced individual and small business tax preparation. The Income Tax School www.theincometaxschool.com offers a Comprehensive Income Tax Course consisting of twenty 3-hour lessons (60 hours of instruction). The course ($499 including books) covers most individual tax returns prepared by U.S. taxpayers. The Income Tax School also offers a series of advanced individual and small business tax courses that can be taken individually or as a certificate program. Students who complete the certificate program successfully and document the experience requirement are awarded the Chartered Tax Professional-CTP® professional designation.
All of the tax courses are online, making it easy for students to study and complete assignments anytime, anywhere with Internet access — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! The Comprehensive Tax Course assumes no prior tax or accounting knowledge.
Instructor support from veteran tax professionals who work in the industry every day is provided by email. In addition, there is a forum where students can post questions and receive responses from the instructor and fellow students. The forum is a great place to have open discussions with other students who are taking the same course.
For graduates who wish to become self-employed, The Income Tax School offers a series of tax practice management manuals, as well as instruction in starting and operating a tax business. The manuals cover (1) Tax Office Operations, (2) Tax Practice Marketing, (3) Tax Business Expansion and (4) Tax Practice Personnel. Strategic Planning Retreats for Tax Business Owners are conducted in Richmond, Virginia and webinars will soon be available for those who cannot afford the time or money to travel to the live retreat. These resources and education constitute an alternative to buying into a franchise with expensive franchise fees and ongoing royalties, as well as restrictions on geographic expansion.
Becoming a tax professional is a quick and inexpensive way for displaced bankers and financial professionals to capitalize on their experience and expertise and embark on new professional careers. For additional information, contact The Income Tax School at (800) 984-1040 or visit www.theincometaxschool.com