Job Title: Tax Accountant
Type of Company: I work as a tax preparer for individuals and small business.
Education: BA, Business
Previous Experience: I started out as a human resource manager with a construction company and became involved through it with the company's controller who owned an accounting business on the side. Ten years ago I worked with him part-time during tax season and quickly became interested in a career change.
Job Tasks: As a tax preparer I have to stay current on changes and updates to federal income tax law and I find the best way to do that is attending seminars. But the internet is also a great resource. Doing people's tax returns is more than just adding and subtracting and finding deductions; you need to allow yourself to develop a relationship with the client throughout the year so the client feels comfortable working with you. Occasionally an individual is audited by the IRS and it's my job to assist him and to walk him through the audit. A Power of Attorney has to be signed by the client to allow the tax preparer to discuss his information with the IRS.
For small businesses we provide the same personal service as we do for individuals. We provide assistance with quarterly estimated tax payments, payroll taxes and insurance audits. In order to complete a business tax return we require proof of information such as bank and credit card statements, proof of purchase for large depreciable items and any loan agreements pertaining to the business. It is our responsibility to report the most accurate information possible on every return we put together.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is working with small businesses just starting out and watching their business grow and their individual success. As a tax preparer the hours are extremely busy during January through April, but very relaxing the rest of the year. The job allows a flexible schedule during the off season, which allows for free time during the summer season.
The worst part of the job is the late nights during tax season. There are many midnight evenings, but it is all worth it when April 15th arrives. This type of business allows for more time with my family because it is not a position that requires 9-5 hours 5 days a week.
Job Tips: As exhausting as the winter months are, you can basically loaf for the rest of the year. But you will need an accounting degree to get involved in preparing returns; if the thought of becoming a CPA doesn't appeal to you, then becoming an Enrolled Agent might be the option to choose. The Enrolled Agent exam is offered by the IRS.
Additional Thoughts: Never did I imagine I would be working in the accounting field, never mind as a tax preparer. I originally went to college as an accounting major, but switched during my third year of school to general business. I started working as an accounts payable/receivable clerk and realized my interest was in human resources. Working 9-5 was great, but as I was considering starting a family my concerns for obtaining a full-time job and raising children grew greater. I began helping at an accounting office during their busy season and realized the schedule could really work for me if I were to have children. I did not want to send my children to day care, but I did have to continue to work. I ended up having twins, which was not in the plan and I certainly could not justify working full time to give half of it away to a day care center. This is when I quickly realized it was worth a shot for me to make a go in the accounting profession. The job has really given me the flexibility to coordinate both work and family, which is why I love it so much.
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