Everything You Need to Know About Tax Preparation Services

Tax preparation is a booming profession that provides a necessary and welcome service to the community. Whether you're looking to become a tax preparer or just need help filing your taxes, there are a variety of services available to meet your needs. The IRS Free File program is a public-private partnership that allows taxpayers to prepare and file their federal tax returns online for free. Through this program, you can access guided tax preparation, partner IRS sites, or fillable Free File forms.

It's secure, easy, and free. In addition to preparing and filing basic tax forms, some tax preparers can also defend taxpayers before the IRS in audits and tax court matters. However, the extent of what a tax preparer can do depends on their credentials and whether they have representation rights. At some tax sites, taxpayers also have the option of preparing their own basic federal and state tax return for free using web-based tax preparation software with an IRS-certified volunteer who will guide them through the process.

Tax preparers must efficiently and securely access and manage their customers' sensitive information. Depending on experience levels, your client list and the specific characteristics of your business, the types of tax returns a preparer will work on can range from an individual income tax return (Form 1040) to a corporate income tax return (Form 1120) up to the interpretation of complex partnership agreements. So how do you become a tax preparer? What types of qualifications are needed? What tools are available to increase your productivity? And what does a tax preparer do on a day-to-day basis? To become a tax preparer, you'll need to complete an IRS-approved education program and pass an IRS competency exam. You'll also need to obtain an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

This number is required for anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation. Once you've obtained your PTIN, there are several tools available to help you increase your productivity as a tax preparer. Checkpoint Edge by Thomson Reuters is one such resource that provides daily news updates and helps you do your job with more accuracy and confidence. UltraTax CS is another powerful tool packed with time-saving features that provides access to federal, state, and local tax programs. In addition to these tools, there are also several free services available for taxpayers who need help filing their taxes. The IRS Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals.

You can also use Direct Pay to pay your individual tax bill or estimated tax payment from your checking or savings account for free. If you're looking for more comprehensive accounting or small business services, talk to your trusted Liberty Tax advisor for more information.