Are you a tax expert? You can use that to launch your work-from-home dreams!
Whether you want to transition into full-time entrepreneurship or you just want to pick up some extra money during the busy season, don’t miss this opportunity to put your skills to work to bring home some serious earnings.
There are basically two ways to work from home doing tax preparation services: contract with an existing company, or start your own. Let’s take a look at each option.
Contracting with a Tax Company
Whether a large company like Intuit or a small local firm, many accounting firms hire seasonal contract work to help them get through the first few months of the year, when the bulk of Americans are filing their income taxes. There are also year-round positions available, though those aren’t as easy to find.
Some good job boards that offer job listings for at-home tax preparation include:
- The Institute for Professionals in Taxation doesn’t have many listings, but there may be the perfect one for you!
Many of these jobs will be for seasonal work, but you will also find accounting firms both large and small looking for some telecommute help, both part-time and full-time. Many of those permanent positions take a broader scope than just taxes, but if you’re interested in doing taxes from because you want to use those skills in an at-home situation, these jobs are certainly worth a look.
You can also go to the big tax firms and apply directly with them. These include:
- Intuit (search for “remote” in their jobs directory to find all the work-at-home opportunities within the company).
- H&R Block
- Jackson Hewitt
- Liberty Tax Service
One other opportunity for at-home tax-related work is becoming one of the professionals at BIDaWIZ. This is a site where anyone can come and post their questions about taxes, and your job as the Pro would be to answer the question. Many times, these interactions will result in the inquirer hiring you to do their taxes. It’s a little bit unconventional, but it’s worth checking out!
Freelance Tax Prep
When you want to work from home, one of the things to consider is taking your skills and going solo as a freelancer, as opposed to getting into an employment relationship with a firm.
It’s no different with tax preparation.
If you have the background and the credentials to back it up, freelance tax preparation is a great opportunity to bring in some money from home, whether it’s your only gig or your side hustle.
As it goes with tax prep in general, you’ll earn the bulk of your income in the first four months of the year, and you’ll be able to take a lot of time off later in the year. If you’re good with crunch time and then free time — which you probably are, if you’re looking for tax prep work! — this could be a great opportunity to go freelance.
One thing to note if you’re going to open your own tax preparation business: you need to keep absolutely current on federal and state income tax laws, which are constantly changing. When you’re working for yourself, there’s no corporate training to bring you up to speed. You’re on your own for that.
Anyone getting paid to prepare or help prepare tax returns needs a Preparer tax identification number (PTIN) from the IRS. This is a quick and easy online process that costs $50. Here is a checklist of what you will need when applying.
You’ll also need to register with the IRS if you want to file returns electronically. This is the federal government’s application to participate in the e-file program with the IRS. This is a multi-step process, but none of the steps are particularly difficult, and following through is critical for your business.
Your clients will likely expect you to e-file for them (and get their refunds to them more quickly) and the only way to do that on their behalf is to register beforehand. It could take two months or more from start to finish, so I’d recommend you get started right away. Otherwise, you’ll lose the advantage of being able to e-file on behalf of your clients, and your business may suffer before it’s even off the ground!
You’ll also need to register your business with your Secretary of State, and find out what requirements you’ll need — some states require licenses, insurance, and other things.
Decide whether or not it’s worth putting up a website for your at-home tax prep business. Generally speaking, it shouldn’t take a lot of time to get a bare-bones website done, so I usually recommend it. It’s not a requirement, though — I’ve known several at-home tax preparers who didn’t have a website or even business cards.
When it comes to finding your first clients, you’ve got a few options. You can look for work on sites like Craigslist and LinkedIn, advertise your services on social media (like the local facebook group for moms in your area), and spread the word in your personal network.
Many people will offer a reduced rate for their first handful of clients to get the ball rolling. If you make them happy and you do a good job of marketing, you’ll soon find that clients come to you through referrals.
There’s No Wrong Answer
If you’ve got the background, doing tax prep at home is a great way to work from home and still make a living. Whether you contract or go freelance, you’ll be putting your skills to use, boosting your bottom line, and working one-on-one with clients who really need your help. Each route can lead to a satisfying at-home job!
Would you ever work from home as a tax preparer? What’s the biggest obstacle for you?