One major area of confusion for most aspiring tax professionals concerns the credentials required to become a tax professional.
It's not hard at all to become a tax preparer. Yes, you have to do a couple things, but seriously, it's really not hard at all.
In fact, tax preparation is one of the last lucrative, professional services fields in this country which does not include a lot of "barriers to entry" in terms of licenses, education, etc.
It is very important to realize that the decision of who can or cannot become a professional tax preparer is regulated at the state level. There is no federal test that you have to pass to become a tax preparer and there are no federal continuing education requirements for tax preparers. Rather, the requirements for becoming a tax preparer are regulated at the state level.
And, most states have no regulations!
At the time of this writing, only four out of 50 states—Maryland, New York, California, and Oregon—have tax preparer regulations in place in any way, shape, or form.
In each of the other 46 states, it's a straight-up free-for-all, and anyone anywhere anytime can become a professional tax preparer without obtaining any education or licensure whatsoever.
Here is a link to the Maryland tax preparer regulations.
Here is a link to the New York tax preparer regulations.
Here is a link to the process for becoming a tax preparer in California.
Here is a link to the Oregon tax preparer regulations.
If you live or work in one of the above states, please follow the link above and you will learn more about what you need to do—it's really not much.
But it's a whole lot more than you have to do in 46 states…because in 46 other states, you have to do very close to nothing…keep reading and you'll see what I mean!
Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Professional Tax Preparer
For people in states other than Maryland, New York, California, and Oregon, here are your step-by-step instructions for becoming a professional tax preparer:
1. Step One: Go on the Internet and Obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Get a PTIN online at the IRS website:
It should take you about 15 minutes to get your PTIN at IRS.gov.
(Note: we are NOT guaranteeing that anyone can get a PTIN. If you are curious as to whether you can get one, go to the website right now and give it a try. Again, it's not hard, at all, but if you want to be sure you can obtain one go ahead and do it now.)
2. Step Two: DON'T DO ANYTHING ELSE, YOU ALREADY HAVE DONE EVERYTHING THAT'S REQUIRED.
Yes that's correct, unless you live in Maryland, New York, California, or Oregon, there is no Step Two…and there is no Step Three…and there is no Step Four...
It's literally a one-step process to become a professional tax preparer!!!
Go online and get your PTIN at IRS.gov.
This may be shocking that it's this easy and "Wild West" to become a tax preparer, but that's how it is, for real.
(Keep in mind that states may add regulations between the time I'm writing this and the time you're reading it. So, check your state regulations, to make sure you know the rules in your state.)
Get started today with Pronto Tax School's Basic Income Tax Course.