Tax Preparation Service
|Typical fees:||$25–$50 per hour; more if complex|
|Advertising:||Referrals, networking, ads in local publications and Yellow|
|Pages, direct mail|
|Qualifi cations:||An interest in people and their situations, patience,|
|excellent math skills, thorough understanding of tax|
|laws and calculations; CPA certifi cation helpful but not|
|Equipment needed:||Computer, phone, high-speed Internet access, fax, oﬃce|
|equipment (including copier), specialized tax software,|
|reference manuals, business cards|
|Hidden costs:||Time and money for continuing education, if needed|
What You Do
Income tax regulations and their associated forms are often too complicated for the average person to comprehend. Making heads or tails of tax forms, then, is a much-needed service and one that people often don’t mind paying for (remind them that income tax preparation fees are tax-deductible, and you’ll sell them even more on your service). You obviously need to have a thorough knowledge of tax law, tax preparation, and related forms to succeed, but you don’t need to study for a license unless you want certification as a CPA or other designation. This is complicated, detailed work; our tax laws are cumbersome and confusing. It would be quite benefi-cial to take a training course before you begin. This would not only ensure that your skills are adequate, but would give you a feel for whether this work is for you. Tax preparation can earn a talented, detail-oriented business owner a very nice income.
What You Need
Detailed tax guides, special software, errors and omissions insurance, a good quality printer and copier, and the usual computer and oﬃce equipment will be required. You may be saving some ink and paper by e-fi ling, but you’ll still need to print a client copy of each document. Depending on what you need, your oﬃce can be set up for as little as $3,500. Charge at least $25–$50 an hour for your services; more if the job looks complex.
Keys to Success
Since people will always have to pay taxes, you will never run out of potential clients. IRS guidelines are complex and confusing to most citizens, so knowledgeable tax preparers are in great demand. However, constant upgrading of skills is required to meet the changes in forms and regulations. Tax preparation is seasonal, which means cash flow can be uneven; you might add other services to fill in the slower months.