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How do you become a certified tax preparer?

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Becoming a certified tax preparer involves meeting the minimum education level needed to become a tax preparer, obtaining a preparer tax identification number, obtaining experience and passing an exam, according to Study.com. Though not mandatory, certification enhances chances for employment, since some employers may prefer only working with a certified tax preparer.

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A high school diploma or an equivalent education level is the minimum education level for becoming a tax preparer, notes Study.com. While some employers may require job applicants to have completed a postsecondary training program, others provide training for their newly employed tax preparers while on the job. One way to acquire the postsecondary training is to enroll in a certificate program offered by a college, university, the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation, or the National Association of Tax Professionals. During the training, aspiring tax preparers learn about refund calculations, tax schedules, filing status, corporate taxes and payroll taxes. Other topics may include retirement plans, estate taxes and exemptions.

Tax preparers use the preparer tax identification number on each tax form they handle, for accountability purposes, states Study.com. Obtaining the number involves passing a competency test. The minimum experience needed to qualify for certification is three years. The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation explains that one year of experience equals one tax season, which runs from January to April. After acquiring the experience, an individual must pass the Accredited Tax Preparer exam to obtain certification.

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