Tax Preparation Training: What Registered Tax Preparers need to know

If your goal is to be a Registered Tax Preparer, how do you prepare for the IRS competency exam for paid tax preparers? Even preparers with lots of experience will probably need some kind of tax preparation training because real life experience doesn’t necessarily relate to broadbased academic knowledge.  A good example is a drivers license. If you have ever moved to a new state where they require you to take the written drivers test you might remember that it was much more difficult that you thought…unless you prepared. Passing is in the details and in the nuances of good test taking.

The IRS has announced the question areas for the 1040 exam. You will find a table of forms covered in the  Wage & Non-Business Income Form 1040 Examination here. The IRS directory of tax forms and instructions is here.  It appears to be a lot of material, but it’s nothing like getting a CPA License. Tax Preparation Training is the key, and like many learning situations, you have several options on how you prepare for your competency exam.

IRS Resources: The IRS has instructions for each tax form so in theory it is possible to use the IRS regulations as a learning reference. In practice, it’s a difficult choice. The IRS regulations can be a sure cure for insomonia, but not so much a study guide for tax preparers, and there are no practice exams or simulated tests.

Tax Preparations Books: There are hundreds of books on tax preparation, but most are oriented towards real world tax preparation instead of IRS exam preparation. One exception is our Tax Preparer Study Guide and Simulated Exams which are easy reading with a touch of humor, and they allow you to prepare for the competency exam at your own pace without formal tax preparation classes.

Formal Training: Of course, there is always the option to enroll in a formal course. You might check with your local community or vocational college to see if they have an affordable day or evening tax preparation class or tax preparation course. Some private vocational schools also offer tax preparation training or certificate courses but the cost can be extraordinarily high.

If you want to pass the IRS competency exam the first time, you will want to study, prepare, and practice.

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