What Does A Tax Preparer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

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Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Tax Preparers

Tax Preparers prepare tax returns for individuals or small businesses.

Salary
$52710
Becoming One
Medium
Education
No degree required
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Tax Preparers prepare tax returns for individuals or small businesses.

  • Interview clients to obtain additional information on taxable income and deductible expenses and allowances.
  • Use all appropriate adjustments, deductions, and credits to keep clients’ taxes to a minimum.
  • Prepare or assist in preparing simple to complex tax returns for individuals or small businesses.
  • Compute taxes owed or overpaid, using adding machines or personal computers, and complete entries on forms, following tax form instructions and tax tables.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Tax Preparers use all appropriate adjustments, deductions, and credits to keep clients’ taxes to a minimum. They answer questions and provide future tax planning to clients.

A typical day for a Tax Preparer will also include:

  • Review financial records such as income statements and documentation of expenditures to determine forms needed to prepare tax returns.
  • Explain federal and state tax laws to individuals and companies.
  • Compute taxes owed or overpaid, using adding machines or personal computers, and complete entries on forms, following tax form instructions and tax tables.
  • Furnish taxpayers with sufficient information and advice to ensure correct tax form completion.
  • Prepare or assist in preparing simple to complex tax returns for individuals or small businesses.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Tax Preparers also consult tax law handbooks or bulletins to determine procedures for the preparation of atypical returns. They may also answer questions and provide future tax planning to clients.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Tax Preparers calculate form preparation fees according to return complexity and processing time required. They might also check data input or verify totals on forms prepared by others to detect errors in arithmetic, data entry, or procedures.

In addition, they use all appropriate adjustments, deductions, and credits to keep clients’ taxes to a minimum.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them explain federal and state tax laws to individuals and companies.

To some Tax Preparers, it is also their responsibility to interview clients to obtain additional information on taxable income and deductible expenses and allowances.

Freedom to make decisions

How much decision making freedom does this job offer?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
0%

Limited freedom
23%

Some freedom
36%

A lot of freedom
41%

Structured vs unstructured work

To what extent is this job structured for you versus allowing you to determine your own tasks, priorities, and goals?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
5%

Limited freedom
9%

Some freedom
55%

A lot of freedom
32%


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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Average

Is this job meaningful

Low

68% said they were satisfied with their job and 35% said they found their job meaningful.


Dmytro Serheeiv
Self-employed

My name is Dmytro Serheeiv. I’m a professional tax specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the private, public accounting, and government sectors. I’m currently a self-employed tax consultant and the leading tax consultant at PDFLiner.

My typical day

I had a small office near the central IRS department in my city, where both individuals and businesses came to me to receive instant consultations and direct tax assistance.

The typical day at the office included meeting individuals and entrepreneurs in random order and amount. it’s totally impossible to predict how many clients you will have during the day because all people have different tax profiles. However, I always expect to spend nights and days at the office when the tax day comes. Hordes of people start feeling nervous about their taxes and literally run to me in sweat to get quick help without complications. I even hire 1-2 assistants from the state’s tax law university to get help and provide them with intensive practice all at once.

Now I process all the requests online due to the pandemic. The entire workflow has become moderately paced and virtually non-emotional as I rarely meet people face to face to get access to their documentation. I usually wake up early in the morning to reach my desk at around 7 AM and start getting through my mail to fish out all the tasks and schedule them up for the day. In most cases, I have a surplus of tasks and delegate the simplest of them to students online to pay more attention to urgent and complicated cases.

Pros

One of the biggest benefits of being a tax specialist is independence and high earning potential. Most of us start from relatively low wages but reach surprisingly high yearly checks by gaining reputation and expanding the client base. It’s also very important to remember that most of your clients will need help seasonally, which means working late hours every day by the end of each financial year.

I really enjoy getting through documentation like a knife through butter, it feels great to me. I also love to see the relief on the faces of my clients, who are usually so stressed by all those forms.

Cons

It’s probably also the biggest disadvantage of my job because nervous people don’t always formulate their needs well enough, so I have to figure out the details like a professional detective.

You also have to spend a lot of time and nerves to reach the point of financial satisfaction as clients see you as a nobody when you start. That’s why I highly recommend gaining expertise in respected companies before starting your own business in the field.

You should also be ready to invest quite a lot of money into professional software when you start working independently.

Advice for students interested in this career path

There are many tax consultants on the market. You may feel like there are too many of them and it impossible to compete, but that’s not true, actually. Work hard to gain the best field experience. Start practicing in companies from the very first year in the university and you will realize that the competition isn’t that intense for those who know more than others. Update your knowledge base all the time to keep up with the development of the niche and you will be able to provide effective help to customers and gain their trust quite easily. Customers usually return to good tax consultants, so building a client base is much easier than in, say, the real estate niche.

Dmytro Serheeiv
Tax Consultant at PDFLiner.com


Pros

Suitable for people who like to follow routines.

Suitable for people who value relationships between co-workers and customers and want to work in a friendly non-competitive environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to work with designs.

Salary is below average.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$52710 per year

Average hourly wage

$25 per hour

Entry-level Tax Preparers with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $22,090 to $29,310 per year or $11 to $14 per hour.

Salary range Hourly Annual
Highest (Top 10%) $45 $93,540
Senior (Top 25%) $32 $65,960
Middle (Mid 50%) $21 $44,300
Junior (Bottom 25%) $14 $29,310
No experience (Bottom 10%) $11 $22,090

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
5%

40 hours
50%

More than 40 hours
45%

Working schedule

27%

9%

64%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
5%

Fairly important
27%

Important
36%

Very important
18%

Extremely important
14%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
9%

Fairly important
14%

Important
5%

Very important
23%

Extremely important
50%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
23%

Fairly important
32%

Important
9%

Very important
18%

Extremely important
18%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
27%

Every day
64%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
23%

Every day
68%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
33%

Every day
57%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
55%

Once a year
36%

Once a month
9%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
14%

Once a year
45%

Once a month
36%

Once a week
5%

Every day
0%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
0%

Once a year
45%

Once a month
45%

Once a week
9%

Every day
0%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
82%

Once a year
14%

Once a month
5%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
5%

Slightly competitive
9%

Moderately competitive
41%

Highly competitive
23%

Extremely competitive
23%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
9%

Fairly important
0%

Important
5%

Very Important
27%

Extremely Important
59%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
5%

Minor impact
9%

Moderate impact
14%

Important impact
32%

Very important impact
41%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
9%

Once a year
5%

Once a month
14%

Once a week
14%

Every day
59%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
50%

Limited responsibility
27%

Moderate responsibility
14%

High responsibility
9%

Very high responsibility
0%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
18%

Limited responsibility
36%

Moderate responsibility
27%

High responsibility
14%

Very high responsibility
5%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
14%

Once a year or more
5%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
5%

Every day
77%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
82%

Once a year or more
18%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
95%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
5%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
95%

Once a year or more
5%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Medium
You will need previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Most careers in this difficulty category require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an Associate’s degree, and one or two years of on-the-job training. Similar careers include Travel Agents, Agricultural Technicians, Court Reports, and Medical Assistants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
5%

High School Diploma or equivalent
32%

Post-Secondary Certificate
14%

Some College Courses
18%

Associate’s Degree or similar
0%

Bachelor’s Degree
32%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
0%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
27%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
5%

6 months to 1 year
14%

1 to 2 years
23%

2 to 4 years
18%

4 to 6 years
9%

6 to 8 years
5%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
0%

1 month
18%

1 to 3 months
36%

3 to 6 months
14%

6 months to 1 year
23%

1 to 2 years
5%

2 to 4 years
5%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality for this career
The Organizer

People with this personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.

24%

19%

14%

38%

67%

100%

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

They also like starting up and carrying out projects. They like leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk-taking and often deal with business.

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