Have you ever considered taking an IRS approved tax preparation course? These classes, oftentimes offered by third parties, equip you with all the knowledge you need to prepare tax returns for prospective clients. Depending on the depth and nature of the course, this may prepare you to handle tax returns for individuals, small businesses, major corporations, or something in between. In any case, finding the right course and taking it seriously could drastically improve your tax preparation practice—or help you get started as an accountant.

Why Take an IRS Approved Tax Preparation Course?

Why would you consider an IRS approved tax preparation course?

That partially depends on your current level of education. If you want to become a CPA, you’ll need to be formally certified, with ample time in accounting classes. If you already are a CPA, you can improve your skillset and knowledge with these classes.

Most people see some or all of the following benefits:

  • Expanding your resume. The new IRS approved class will teach you about new laws, new tax standards, and other points of information, which should expand your skillset and your resume. That means you should be able to list more services with your tax practice, and work with a much wider client base.
  • New business opportunities. If you haven’t had the education necessary to complete certain types of tax returns, the class could help you find more business opportunities. For example, you may be able to work with a tax outsourcing specialist and help prepare tax returns for businesses that are struggling with a heavy workload.
  • Higher value. If you already offer tax preparation services, becoming certified with an IRS approved tax preparation course could add more value to your services. In many cases, that could allow you to charge more for the same services.
  • Marketing and advertising benefits. If you spend time marketing and advertising your tax preparation service, you can mention and emphasize your recent education. Listing your most recent IRS approved courses makes you look more educated and dedicated to your craft, which can help you win more clients.
  • Updates and continuing education. Tax laws are constantly being updated, and if you aren’t paying close attention to them, it’s easy to fall behind. IRS approved classes package everything you need to know in one convenient course, so you can get up to speed and ready for the latest tax season.

Finding an IRS Approved Provider

If you’re interested in taking an IRS approved tax preparation course, there are a few ways you could find a provider. The IRS keeps a comprehensive list of certified providers in cities throughout the country, along with the programs offered by those providers. The fundamentals of these courses are all similar, since they all meet the IRS’s basic requirements; the main differences are in how the classes are taught and the individuals teaching them.

If you have significant experience in preparing tax returns, or if you’re interested in starting a business for teaching others about tax law, it’s possible for you to become certified as an IRS approved provider. To do this, you’ll need to review the IRS’s standards for becoming an approved CE provider, apply online, and pay an annual fee (which is currently $460). If your application is approved, you’ll receive a provider number for your organization.

Types of Tax Preparation Courses

There are several types of IRS approved tax preparation courses you could take, including these top options:

  1. The basics of tax preparation. These courses tend to cover the basics of tax preparation, from a high-level standpoint. They’re targeted for newcomers, but can be taken by anybody. By the end of the course, you should learn how to prepare a tax return, the basics of tax law in the United States, and how you could improve an existing practice. These are ideal if you’re looking for something general and somewhat comprehensive.
  2. Tax refreshers and new changes. If you’ve been preparing tax returns for a long time, or if you’re otherwise experienced in the field of accounting, you could also take a course specialized for established tax preparers. Each year in the United States, there are typically new changes that affect how you need to prepare tax returns. If you haven’t practiced in a while, you may need a refresher on the basics. That’s why some courses focus on issuing reminders for how tax preparation works, as well as providing information on new tax changes that accountants need to understand. These are ideal for continuing education (CE) purposes, and for accountants who have been out of practice for a while.
  3. Tax returns for small businesses. Some courses are focused on one specific area of tax preparation, such as preparing returns for small businesses. Small businesses typically have more complex returns than a comparable individual, since they’ll need to track expenses and profits, and may be subject to additional rules and regulations. Taking an IRS approved tax preparation course for small businesses can help you succeed in this area.
  4. Corporate taxes and advanced knowledge. Corporations have even more complex tax considerations, since they’re subject to more laws and typically have more complicated variables to deal with. Fortunately, there are plenty of IRS approved courses you can take to learn these fundamentals from scratch, or get a refresher if you haven’t prepared a corporate return in years.

What You’ll Learn

The precise elements you’ll learn will vary based on the provider, but most courses will cover the following, at minimum:

  • Tax theory. For starters, you’ll learn the basics of tax theory, including how and why the government issues taxes and how to prepare a return with the most optimal strategies for individuals and businesses. This is important if you want to add the greatest possible value for your clients.
  • Current tax laws. You’ll also learn about current tax laws, with a special emphasis on the latest tax laws affecting your target customers. Because tax law is always evolving, this is important even for the most experienced tax preparers.
  • How to prepare tax returns. You should also learn the basics of preparing a tax return, for individuals, small businesses, corporations, or other entities, depending on the nature of the class. That way, you can start or improve your tax preparation business.
  • Exceptions and fringe cases. Sometimes, you’ll have to deal with a return that breaks the norm or presents a unique challenge, and this can be challenging, especially for new tax preparers. These courses will help you with navigating these complexities.
  • Client communication. Some tax preparation courses also teach you about the importance of client communication, especially when it comes to how to explain complex tax laws that the average person may have difficulty comprehending.
  • Ethics. IRS approved tax preparation courses will spend at least some time talking about the importance of ethics in tax preparation, such as reporting honestly and working in the client’s best interest.

Knowing Your Learning Style

Everyone has a different preferred learning style, so make sure you gravitate toward a course that caters to that style. For example, you may find it much easier to learn from visuals than from written words, or may learn better through example than through theoretical approaches. There are hundreds of IRS certified instructors out there, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that suits your specific needs.

Are you ready to improve your tax preparation practice? Learn more about Taxfyle today, and start outsourcing your tax preparation work to improve your profitability.