Tax Preparer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Tax Preparer, or a Tax Accountant, is responsible for submitting tax forms on behalf of clients to pay the appropriate amount and maximize the client’s return. Their duties include interviewing clients about their income and expenses, auditing account details and acting as a liaison between clients and the IRS.

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Tax Preparer duties and responsibilities

Tax Preparers perform many accounting, customer service and organizational tasks to help maintain the financial health of their clients or employer. Their duties and responsibilities often include:

  • Informing clients or employers on the tax preparation process
  • Collecting relevant financial records, including pay stubs and income statements
  • Inputting data from financial records into tax return software or databases
  • Using applicable federal, state and local tax law to determine deductions and how much each client will pay or earn on the return
  • Completing and filing tax documents with appropriate agencies, like the IRS, state and local government entities
  • Acting as a representative for clients with applicable agencies as required
  • Building customer relationships to promote and expand the business
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What does a Tax Preparer do?

Tax Preparers work for financial institutions to provide specific tax advice and submit a person or business entity’s taxes. Their role is to produce error-free tax forms on behalf of a client to maximize their financial health. They review the past tax returns of their clients and collect new tax data to calculate how much their client owes. They give advice on future tax planning and communicate with clients about upcoming tax requirements and deadlines. Tax Preparers can upkeep an individual’s tax files or work with a business’s tax records and help distribute W-2s to employees.

Tax Preparer skills and qualifications

Tax Preparers use their transferable soft skills, technical abilities and industry knowledge to ensure returns are on-time, complete and accurate. These skills and qualifications often include:

  • In-depth knowledge of applicable tax laws, regulations and deadlines
  • Proficiency with common tax preparation, word processing and spreadsheet software applications
  • Familiarity with the tax return submission and confirmation process, including how to navigate the IRS and other government entity online platforms
  • Excellent customer service skills, including patience and flexibility
  • Great organizational skills, including time management and strategic thinking
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Keen attention to detail

Tax Preparer salary expectations

A Tax Preparer makes an average of $16.45 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of education, experience and geographical location.

Tax Preparer education and training requirements

Tax Preparer candidates should have at least a high school diploma or GED and completed coursework in tax preparation, accounting, bookkeeping, business finance and other relevant topics. Roles that only handle simple tax returns may only require minimum education and on-the-job training. Single corporations or roles with more complex tax return duties may require an associate or bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or another relevant field. Previous training with federal, state and local tax laws may be demonstrated with completed federal and/or state examination and certification or licensure. 

Tax Preparer experience requirements

Entry-level Tax Preparer candidates may have the minimum education with 1 or 2 years of previous work experience in customer service, administrative support, accounting or another relevant field. Some candidates may have worked only 1 or a few previous tax seasons in this role. Experienced candidates may have 3 or more years of previous experience in those fields or have previous experience as a Tax Preparer. Other experienced candidates may also have experience as a Certified Public Accountant, demonstrating more advanced knowledge of best practices and experience with tax audits.

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Frequently asked questions about Tax Preparers


What is the difference between a Tax Preparer and a CPA?

A Tax Preparer is a niche accounting role while Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a broad designation that can refer to any type of Accountant who has fulfilled their certification requirements. Tax Preparers generally work as part of a team, while CPAs can choose to work independently to provide accounting consultations for businesses or individuals. Not all Tax Preparers are CPAs, although some do hold this designation to show their professional qualifications. CPAs can choose to focus on taxes like Tax Preparers do, or they can perform other accounting responsibilities like overall records compliance and balancing a company’s financial recordkeeping.


What are the daily duties of a Tax Preparer?

Tax Preparers spend most of their time in an office environment reading through financial documents and filling out forms. They request specific forms from the IRS and use them to submit tax returns for their clients. Tax Preparers may also talk with their clients in person to learn more about their recordkeeping practices and possible opportunities for write-offs. To get larger returns for their clients, Tax Preparers review tax laws to find tax credits and exemptions. They sign tax forms on behalf of their client and mail them to the IRS, then update their clients on the status of their return.


What are the characteristics of a good Tax Preparer?

Good Tax Preparers are focused, routine-oriented people who have the natural math skills to perform correct calculations on tax forms. They are highly organized and can easily access the records they need, recalling where they filed specific forms, receipts and account reports. Tax Preparers are also excellent researchers who can find financial details for clients who had poor recordkeeping practices prior to hiring a Tax Preparer. They are logical and strategic, able to make suggestions about future business practices that could reduce their tax costs or make their accounting more efficient.


What should you look for on a Tax Preparer's resume?

When reviewing resumes for a Tax Preparer, look for some form of formal training in accounting practices. Tax Preparers should include information on their tax preparation certification if they live in a state where it is required. Previous bookkeeping experience and experience filing taxes for businesses demonstrate that a candidate has the technical skills to uphold compliance when preparing tax documents.

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