Do I have to be a CPA? What are the requirements to do tax prep?
In general, tax preparers are not required to have a specific educational background other than a high school diploma, but there are many training programs offered to learn what they need to know to prepare tax returns.
These courses cover topics like filing status, standard deductions, dependents, wages, taxable benefits, income from interest, retirement plans and pensions, social security income, health savings accounts, business expenses, charitable contributions, foreign tax, tax as it relates to real estate transactions, and various credits and deductions.
To qualify as a tax preparer, you must first meet both federal and state licensure and registration requirements. The IRS requires tax preparers to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) before they can accept payment for preparing tax returns.
You may also apply for IRS Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) so you can e-file tax returns. Before you can electronically file tax returns, you must apply to become an Authorized e-file provider with the IRS. This process is facilitated by the IRS in three phases:
Phase 1: Create an IRS e-services Account – Before you begin the application process, you must apply and be approved for an e-services account with the IRS.
Phase 2: Submit Your Application – After you are approved for e-services, you can log into your account to fill out the online application to become an IRS e-file provider.
Phase 3: Pass a Suitability Check – After you submit your application and any related documents, the IRS will conduct a check on the people listed on your application as either a principal or responsible official. This can include (but is not limited to): a credit check, a tax compliance check, a criminal background check, and a check for prior non-compliance with IRS e-file requirements. Upon approval, you will get an acceptance letter from the IRS with your Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).