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 it’s 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:
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 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:
1-800Accountant is looking for experienced remote tax advisors, and you should be either an EA (Enrolled Agent) or CPA. They want you to be up to date on all the latest tax codes, and be invested in providing personalized service. You should also be proactive and self-directed in finding answers and communicating with clients. Problem-solving and analytical thinking skills are also important for this role. You should have a BS in Accounting (or another relevant degree; can be substituted with appropriate experience), and have participated in at least two previous tax seasons – see the job listing for more details.
Bright! is particularly looking for Remote CPAs or EAs who can support their senior consultants, especially with assisting expat Americans in the preparation of their tax returns. These positions involve efficiently managing work flow and providing excellent client communication. You should also be proactive and self-managing. They prefer previous tax prep experience, and payment seems to be on a per-project basis.
Cybercoders is looking for folks to manage their client projects from bookkeeping all the way through completing their tax returns. You'll need to be able to understand complicated financial issues, have good research skills, and be a great communicator. They also would like someone with experience with tax software such as Intuit Pro Connect and QuickBooks, as well as a PTIN and expertise in tax compliance requirements for individuals and businesses. You should also have CPA certification and five years or more experience in tax accounting.
H&R Block regularly hires remote seasonal tax help – users of their services tend to do their taxes themselves, and specialists are needed to answer any questions that pop up, which may include doing research to find the necessary answers. They hire from a wide range of backgrounds for this position – you could be a CPA or EA, or perhaps simply be a student. To succeed in this role, you must have research skills, be a clear communicator, and have the capacity to build an easy rapport with clients.
Intuit looks for seasonal tax associates based on their location – and these positions require that you have experience preparing and supporting various types of tax returns. Some listed requirements are the previous preparation of a certain number of tax returns, excellent written and verbal communication skills, and solid critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In order to find the work-at-home job opportunities with Intuit, be sure to search for “remote” in their jobs directory.
Jackson Hewitt also offers some work-from-home positions, including as a seasonal processing clerk. This position involves scheduling appointments, monitoring those appointments, and also tracking the progress on tax return prep. You would make calls as necessary to clients or preparers for assistance or additional information and complete other admin duties. They don't require prior tax experience – just a college degree (or you should be enrolled in a degree program) and great computer and communication skills.
You'll find various tax season-related positions available at Working Solutions as you scroll through their search results. As usual, most of these remote positions require you to be an excellent communicator (both verbally and in writing) and have good self-directed research skills. They're also heavily customer service oriented, and often require some customer service experience or experience with accounting or tax software.
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 credentials to back it up, freelance tax preparation is a great opportunity to bring in some money while working 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, so be proactive.
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 is absolutely free. 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. They just simply rely on word of mouth and referrals.
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), or spread the word in your personal network. Preferably, you’ll pursue all three.
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!
Published December 2016. Updated February 2020.