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By The Wyoming LLC Attorney Team

Mar 20, 2024
  1. Start a Business

How to Start a Tax Preparation Business From Home

How to Start an LLC


Starting a tax preparation business from home requires education, certification, tax knowledge, experience, organization, and marketing skills. Protecting customer data and obtaining business insurance is also essential. Here is an in-depth guide for getting started.

Who Can Be a Professional Tax Preparer?

A professional tax preparer is someone who prepares tax returns for individuals and businesses for a fee. Starting a tax preparation business from home can be an incredibly rewarding and flexible venture. Are you interested in becoming a professional tax preparer? If so, there are certain qualifications and requirements that need to be met. Here's how:


While having a degree in accounting, finance or a related field isn't necessarily mandatory, it can provide helpful insight. Additionally, taking courses on taxation law as well as furthering one's knowledge in finance and accounting will prove beneficial for those looking to enter this domain.

Certification or License:

Depending on which jurisdiction you're operating in and the level of services offered, obtaining certification or licensing is a must. In the United States, for instance, becoming an Enrolled Agent (EA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will serve as a testament to your expertise and credibility. Some states also require tax preparers to register and obtain a specific tax preparer license.

Tax Knowledge:

A professional tax preparer must be knowledgeable about tax laws, regulations, and filing requirements at the federal, state, and local levels. Staying up-to-date with annual tax law changes and revisions is crucial for providing accurate and compliant services.


Hands-on experience in preparing tax returns is valuable for a professional tax preparer. This can be gained through working for an accounting firm, volunteering with tax assistance programs, or preparing your own taxes and those of friends and family.

Ethical Standards:

Professional tax preparers should uphold high ethical standards, as they are responsible for ensuring the accuracy and compliance of their client’s tax returns. This includes keeping client information confidential and being honest in all dealings with the tax authorities.

Communication and Organization Skills:

Tax preparers must be able to effectively communicate with clients, explaining complex tax concepts in simple terms. Strong organizational skills are also essential to manage multiple clients, deadlines, and documentation.

A professional tax preparer should have a solid background in tax law and accounting, hold relevant certifications or licenses, maintain current tax knowledge, have practical experience, uphold ethical standards, and possess strong communication and organizational skills.

What Are the Steps for Starting a Home-Based Tax Preparation Business?

Starting a home-based tax preparation business can be a rewarding and flexible venture. Here are the steps to help you get started:

Assess your skills and qualifications:

Make sure that you have a solid foundation in tax filing, accounting, or finance. To increase your credibility, certifying yourself as an Enrolled Agent (EA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) may be necessary.

Create a business plan:

Develop a detailed business plan outlining your clientele base, services offered, pricing strategies employed, marketing tactics implemented, and financial projections made. This blueprint can act as the guiding light for this business journey while providing measurable objectives to assess progress toward success.

Establish a Legal Entity

Decide on the legal structure of your business, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or corporation. Consult with legal and financial professionals to determine the most suitable structure for your specific circumstances.

Register your business:

Select an appropriate name that represents your business, then register it with the necessary local, state, and federal authorities. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS if required.

Obtain necessary licenses and permits:

Research and obtain any necessary licenses, permits, or certifications required for your jurisdiction. This may include a tax preparer license or registration, a business license, and any zoning permits for operating a home-based business.

Set up your home office:

Create a workspace within your home that is comfortable yet professional without any distractions present. Ensure all necessary equipment such as computers, printers, phones, etc., are readily available along with a secure internet connection.

Invest in tax preparation software:

Choose tax preparation software that meets your needs and budget. This software should be user-friendly, regularly updated, and able to handle federal, state, and local tax returns for individuals and businesses.

Develop record-keeping and data security systems:

Establish secure systems for maintaining client records and protecting sensitive information. This includes both digital and physical security measures, such as encrypted data storage and secure filing cabinets.

Set your fees and payment policies:

Research the local market and your competition to determine your pricing structure. Establish clear payment policies and communicate them to your clients.

Market your services:

Promote your tax preparation services through various marketing channels, such as social media, local advertising, and networking with local businesses and professionals. Develop a professional website that showcases your services, credentials, and contact information.

Build your client base:

Start by offering your services to friends, family, and acquaintances. As you gain experience and build a reputation, request referrals and testimonials from satisfied clients to expand your client base.

Stay current with tax laws and industry trends:

Continually update your knowledge by attending workshops, seminars, and courses. Join professional organizations to network with other tax preparers and stay informed about changes in tax laws and best practices.

By following these steps, you can successfully start and grow a home-based tax preparation business. Remember to always prioritize client satisfaction and comply with all tax regulations to maintain a positive reputation and build a thriving business.

Do You Need Special Training to Be a Professional Tax Preparer?

Tax season can be a daunting time for many individuals and businesses. Professional Tax Preparers offer invaluable assistance in tackling this task, but not everyone is aware of what it takes to become one. In this article, we will explore the IRS training requirements and state-specific requirements to provide an overview of the educational and professional background necessary to enter this field.

IRS Training Requirements

While the IRS does not have a specific training requirement for tax preparers, it does offer the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP). The AFSP is a voluntary program designed to encourage non-credentialed tax preparers to participate in continuing education courses. Participants who complete the program receive a Record of Completion and are listed in the IRS's public directory of tax return preparers.

The AFSP requirements include:

  • Completing a 6-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course and passing an exam.
  • Completing additional continuing education hours based on the tax preparer's focus (e.g., 10 hours for individual tax preparation and 6 hours for ethics). It's important to note that Enrolled Agents (EAs) and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are exempt from the AFSP requirements, as they already have more rigorous education and examination requirements.

State Requirements

State requirements for tax preparers can vary significantly, so it's essential to research the specific regulations for your state. Some states have no requirements, while others require registration, licensing, or certification. For example:

  • California: The California Tax Education Council (CTEC) requires tax preparers to complete a 60-hour qualifying education course and pass an exam. Tax preparers must also complete 20 hours of continuing education annually.
  • Oregon: Tax preparers in Oregon must complete an 80-hour basic tax course and pass the Oregon Tax Preparer License Exam. They must also complete 30 hours of continuing education each year.

To determine your state's exact requirements for tax preparers, contact your state's tax or licensing agency or the board of accountancy.

Even though the IRS does not require mandatory training for these professionals, they do offer a voluntary program that can guarantee an adequate level of expertise. Additionally, state requirements can vary, with some states requiring registration, licensing, or certification.

Aspiring tax preparers should carefully research the requirements for their jurisdiction and consider pursuing professional certifications, such as becoming an Enrolled Agent or a Certified Public Accountant, to bolster their credentials and expertise in the field. By staying current with tax law changes and investing in ongoing education, tax preparers can provide accurate and reliable services to their clients, fostering trust and building a successful career.

How Much Do Most Tax Preparers Charge?

The fees charged by tax preparers can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the tax return, the preparer's experience and credentials, geographical location, and the time needed to complete the return. Here are some general guidelines to help you understand the pricing structure for tax preparers:

  1. Flat fees: Many tax professionals will charge a set rate for certain services; these can extend from $100 to over $500 depending on how intricate your tax return is.
  2. Hourly rates: Other tax preparers charge an hourly rate for their services. Hourly fees for services typically range from $50 to $300 or higher, depending on the preparer's experience and credentials. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or Enrolled Agents (EAs) are likely to charge more than non-credentialed individuals, with hourly rates ranging from $50 to $300 or higher.
  3. Per form or per schedule fees: In some cases, tax preparers may charge based on the number of forms or schedules required for a tax return. For instance, they may charge a base fee for the main tax form (e.g., Form 1040) and additional fees for each supplemental form or schedule.
  4. Value-based pricing: Some tax preparers may charge based on the value they provide to the client, such as tax savings, audit protection, or personalized tax planning advice. This pricing structure can be more subjective and may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

It's essential to clarify the fee structure and obtain a written estimate before engaging a tax preparer's services. Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always be the best choice. It's crucial to find a preparer with the right combination of experience, credentials, and reputation to ensure that your taxes are prepared accurately and efficiently.

Where Do Tax Preparers Make the Most Money?

The income of tax preparers can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, experience, credentials, the scope of services offered, and clientele. Generally, tax preparers tend to make more money in areas with higher costs of living, greater demand for their services, and a larger presence of affluent clients or businesses that have the potential to earn more. Here are a few scenarios where tax preparers can make more money:

  1. High-cost metropolitan areas: Tax preparers working in large cities or metropolitan areas with high costs of living, such as New York City, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, may charge higher fees to cover their expenses and reflect the local market rates.
  2. High-income clients or businesses: Tax preparers who specialize in serving high-income individuals, businesses, or clients with complex tax situations can often charge higher fees for their expertise and the added value they provide.
  3. Niche expertise: Tax preparers with specialized knowledge in specific industries or areas of tax law can often command higher fees for their unique expertise. Examples include international taxation, mergers, and acquisitions, or tax planning for high-net-worth individuals.
  4. Professional credentials: Tax preparers with advanced credentials, such as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or Enrolled Agents (EAs), are generally able to charge higher fees due to their specialized training, expertise, and recognition in the industry.
  5. Seasonal demand: During the peak tax filing season, tax preparers often experience a surge in demand for their services, which may allow them to charge higher fees or take on more clients to boost their income.

To maximize earnings as a tax preparer, it's essential to invest in continuing education, develop specialized skills, expand your professional network, and strategically position your services in areas or markets with high demand and potential for higher fees.

How Do I Market Myself as a Tax Preparer?

Marketing yourself as a tax preparer involves building a strong professional reputation, showcasing your expertise, and utilizing various marketing channels to reach potential clients. Here are some strategies to help you effectively market your tax preparation services:

  1. Develop a professional website: Create a professional, user-friendly website showcasing your services, credentials, and contact information. Ensure that your website is optimized for search engines (SEO) so that potential clients can easily find you when searching for tax preparers online.
  2. Leverage the power of social media: Create a strong online presence across popular platforms including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Share valuable tax tips, industry news, and updates about your services to engage your audience and showcase your expertise.
  3. Network with local businesses and professionals: Attend local business events, chamber of commerce meetings, and other networking opportunities to connect with potential clients and referral partners. Establish relationships with professionals in related fields, such as financial planners, attorneys, and real estate agents, who may refer clients to you.
  4. Offer workshops or seminars: Host free or low-cost workshops or seminars on tax-related topics, targeting your local community or specific industries. This will help establish you as an expert and generate leads for your services.
  5. Request testimonials and referrals: Encourage satisfied clients to provide testimonials that you can feature on your website and marketing materials. Also, ask for referrals to expand your client base through word-of-mouth marketing.
  6. Utilize online directories and review sites: List your business on online directories and review sites, such as Google My Business, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. Encourage clients to leave reviews to help improve your online reputation and visibility.
  7. Offer promotions or incentives: Offer discounts, package deals, or referral incentives to attract new clients and reward loyal customers.
  8. Utilize email marketing: Build an email list of clients and prospects, and send regular newsletters or updates with valuable tax information, news, and promotions. Ensure that your email marketing efforts are compliant with anti-spam regulations.
  9. Write articles or guest blog posts: Write informative articles or guest blog posts for industry-related websites or local publications to showcase your expertise and reach a wider audience.
  10. Participate in local events: Sponsor or participate in local events, such as charity fundraisers or community gatherings, to increase your visibility and demonstrate your commitment to the community

By implementing these marketing strategies, you can effectively promote your tax preparation services, establish yourself as an expert in the field, and attract a steady stream of clients to grow your business.

Why Tax Prep Businesses Are High Risk and How to Mitigate the Risks

Tax preparation businesses are considered high risk due to the sensitive nature of the information they handle and the need for strict compliance with tax laws and regulations. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in severe consequences for both the tax preparer and their clients. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why tax prep businesses are high risk and explore measures to protect customer data, the importance of purchasing business insurance, and the need for establishing a means for maintaining business compliance.

Measures to Protect Customer Data

Tax preparers handle sensitive personal and financial information, making the protection of customer data paramount. Here are some steps to help safeguard client data:

  1. Implement strong cybersecurity measures: Use robust security software, firewalls, and encryption to protect digital data. Regularly update your software to protect against new threats and vulnerabilities.
  2. Establish secure communication channels: Use secure channels for communication, such as encrypted email or messaging platforms, when sharing sensitive information with clients.
  3. Develop a clear data retention and disposal policy: Set guidelines for how long client data should be retained and outline secure methods for disposing of physical and digital records.
  4. Educate staff on data security: Train employees on best practices for handling sensitive information, such as creating strong passwords, identifying phishing attempts, and safeguarding physical documents.

Purchasing Business Insurance

Tax preparation businesses face various risks, including potential errors in tax filings, data breaches, and lawsuits. Business insurance can help mitigate these risks:

  1. Professional liability insurance: This coverage, also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, protects against claims arising from mistakes or negligence in the services provided by your tax preparation business.
  2. Cyber liability insurance: Cyber liability insurance covers expenses related to a data breach, such as legal fees, notification costs, and public relations efforts.
  3. General liability insurance: This coverage protects against claims of bodily injury or property damage arising from your business operations.

Consult with an insurance agent to determine the appropriate coverage and limits for your specific tax preparation business.

Establishing a Means for Maintaining Business Compliance

Compliance with tax laws and regulations is crucial for tax preparers. Here are some steps to ensure ongoing compliance:

  1. Stay informed about tax law changes: Regularly review updates from the IRS and state tax agencies to stay current with changes in tax laws and regulations.
  2. Invest in continuing education: Attend workshops, seminars, and courses related to tax preparation to maintain and enhance your knowledge and skills.
  3. Implement internal controls: Develop standard operating procedures and quality control measures to minimize errors and ensure compliance with tax laws.
  4. Conduct regular self-assessments: Periodically review your business practices and procedures to identify areas for improvement and ensure adherence to legal and ethical standards.

Tax preparation businesses are considered high risk due to the sensitive nature of the data they handle and the need for strict compliance with tax laws. By implementing measures to protect customer data, purchasing appropriate business insurance, and establishing a means for maintaining business compliance, tax preparers can mitigate the risks associated with their profession and build a successful and reputable business.

Closing Thoughts

Starting a home-based tax preparation business requires a blend of education, certification, tax expertise, and marketing skills. The comprehensive guide outlines key steps, from qualifications and business setup to ongoing education and compliance. If you have any questions about forming an LLC or corporation for your business feel free to reach us through our contact form or call +1 (307) 683-0983 A member of our experienced team of paralegals will assist you.