To join in on this discussion, you must first log in.

Discussion:Tax Preparer- Seasonal Salary?

From TaxAlmanac, A Free Online Resource for Tax Professionals
Note: You are using this website at your own risk, subject to our Disclaimer and Website Use and Contribution Terms.

From TaxAlmanac

Jump to: navigation, search

Discussion Forum Index --> Business Growth Community --> Tax Preparer- Seasonal Salary?


Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
My dad is a CPA and told me about the H & R Block training for tax preparation. I'm interested in taking the training and becoming a tax preparer. I have one question though: my dad thought that a seasonal tax preparationist makes around $30,000- is this correct? For a frame of reference, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I'm assuming a tax preparer in San Francisco would make more than a tax preparer in Kansas, for example. I have a Bachelor's Degree in an unrelated field.

Thanks so much for your help!

-Sara

Deback (talk|edits) said:

January 26, 2007
Sorry, I don't know how much a seasonal H&R Block tax preparationist makes. Anybody else?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
HRB used to pay on a hourly wage that is a draw against a "commission" based on a %age of the tax prep fee. The longer you work for HRB, the higher the %. If your commission was less than your hourly draw, then no extra at the end of tax season. If your commission was higher than your draw, then you got something additional. To make $30K during tax season, you would probably have to be an experienced preparer or experienced EA with over 15 years working with HRB and getting all the shifts you could. A more realistic amount is $9 to $15 an hour for your first 3 to 5 tax seasons or so.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
I pay a person who does data-entering $50 a return; many of these returns are 'ready to go' when she is finished but she does not sign these. The first year she worked for me, she took the H & R Block course in the fall of 1997; they offered her a job but that was ages ago.

Pegoo (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
DT,

How much data entry are we talking about :P

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
I generally send her multiple W-2 returns [I have some with over 20 W-2s] with multiple states and often many 1099s....freelance musicians who cannot control how they are paid. I avoid sending her returns where there are technical questions. If she is unsure of something she emails me, and I also review the returns when they come back [she emails me the file and sends the data back via 2 day or 3 day Fedex, the same way I send it to her. I could scan it in to a file and email the file, but this way the client's envelope arrives, I open it and glance through it, highlight in places, then put it in a folder and fedex it with four or five others. She says the longest returns take perhaps 90 minutes, the shortest sometimes are done in 15. She is my age, retired and loves to do it. She had a job in a bank liasoning with governments on 1099 issues etc but was riffed ten years ago when the bank was bought out.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
Thanks so much everyone for responding. Kevinh5, when you quoted $9-$15 an hour, were you taking into account that I live in the SF Bay Area and therefore wages are higher here than some other places? Thanks in advance.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
Sfaithj, no that is the range in GA and NC. You lucky folks out in CA might make a lot more. Maybe twice as much, but I doubt 3 times as much.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
Kevinh5, Thanks so much for the reply. That is making me feel a bit better. My dad said that I could ask for Saturday's off due to religious reasons and that people hardly work on Sundays, so I could possibly get a 2 day weekend during tax season. Do you know how many hours a week a typical seasonal tax preparer works?

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
Too many!!!!!!! Seriously, when I worked preparing returns for a tax lawyer in Philly I was there from 9-9:30 to 9-10 or later at night and Saturdays. I understand he now closes his office on Saturday for religious reasons, but is open all day Sunday.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
D&T, Are you serious? I don't know if I can work 12 hours in a row! Damn.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
From 10-8 every hour but one I had a client scheduled for me.

Deback (talk|edits) said:

January 26, 2007
I used to prepare tax returns from 10 am through 1 or 2 am, seven days a week (105 to 112 hours per week), and then I switched to using a computer in early 1990 at about the time the tax laws were simplified, so it's down to about 65 to 71 hours per week in Feb and about 55 hours per week in Jan, Mar, and Apr.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
Deback, thanks so much for your response. I'm assuming I'd use a computer so perhaps the numbers you quoted would apply for me too.

Deback (talk|edits) said:

January 26, 2007
I'm not sure, because I work in an office in my home. I've never worked for any other tax prep company, so I have no idea how many hours they will schedule you to work.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
Ok thanks.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
Deback, do you currently prepare taxes at home? What type of degree/credentials do you need to do that? Would I be able to do that with a degree from HR Block?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

26 January 2007
If the tax preparer is paid hourly, there is likely to be very little overtime. I only paid overtime to my employees about 3 weeks a year.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
I don't know about California, but anyone is allowed to prepare and sign a tax return in most states. I don't mean that sarcastically either.

Sw (talk|edits) said:

January 27, 2007
I think in California you have to be licensed.

CATAXES (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
CA need to be attorney, CPA, EA or registered tax preparer to prepare for $$ or sign as preparer. A preparer can hire anyone (unlicensed) to work for them. H&R is good way to get the original 60 hour course to be registered preparer in CA. After that you can decide if you want to work for them.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Thanks everyone. I just talked to my dad (a CPA) about working from home and he said if I was a tax preparer, I couldn't work from home as I'd need to meet with clients every so often.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Sara, could you ask a personal question or two? Have you ever had a job? Have you graduated from High School?

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
I just got my Bachelor's in Women Studies. I've had jobs but they were all retail (cashier) and nanny. I've never had a "real" job.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
And yes, I have my H.S. Diploma.

Bengoshi (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Sfaith, do you have a general interest in tax or accounting? If so, I think you might find tax preparation a worthwhile pursuit. You can actually help others and make a decent living. But if learning about tax law makes your eyes roll, you should think twice about getting serious. Most of us here have a very strong interest in what we do, and are always seeking to learn and improve. I think if you can't develop that "love" for tax, you won't be able develop professionally like you would in a job you really love.

HR is okay just to learn the basics, but if you're serious you're going to need more than an HR Block course.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Bengoshi, I like math and I like helping people. So I think I'd be a good seasonal job for me.

Bengoshi (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
I see. I suppose if you're just looking for a seasonal sort of job, it might be okay. Try it out and see if you like it! BTW, tax preparation isn't all math. Actually, it involves dealing w/ people (even if they're rude), fact finding, knowledge of tax rules, and application of those rules to compute a taxpayer's income & deductions, etc. See how obsessive some of us tax professionals are? :)

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
For six years my 'partner' was not only an accountant but a social worker, which made her interviewing skills very good. She was used to talking to people and trying to solve their problems.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Haha, yeah I figured it would require more. I'm nervous about not getting enough $$ to live on but I think it's worth it for me to try it out. It might end up being a viable career for me.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Years ago I was the night manager for a Jackson Hewitt office. They paid minimum wage plus a percentage of the fees generated. This encouraged everyone to push refund anticipation loans. I usually got to the office around 6 pm and worked until around 2 am (this was after working an 8-5 at a bank!). Sfaithj - you're still young; you should be able to work these long hours:) Saturdays are usually busy days. But - assuming you're able to work on Sundays that could be an incentive for a potential employer. Good luck!

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Thanks for the response, Bottom Line.

Lizzit (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
I worked for 14 years as a seasonal tax employee. It can be a great way to pay the bills the rest of the year if you are *scrupulous* about saving that bonus cheque.

Your base draw is minimum wage. You then get a bonus cheque. First, I used my bonus cheque to pay living expenses at music college. Once I graduated, I used my bonus cheque to live on while playing with my rock band the rest of the year. A number of my friends at work had similar low-paying careers which the tax work funded: artists, nurses, and stay-at-home mums working mum-friendly hours. You can work as many or as few hours as you like, but if you want to earn enough to live on the rest of the year, you've got to really crank the hours. My artist pals and I worked a good ten hours a day average, which the final stretch (the first two weeks of April) working from the minute we woke up to when our heads started to nod. I lived three blocks away - I literally lived in the office, going home only to sleep, those last couple of weeks. I pushed hard every year to make more than the previous year. I held top sales records for four years in a row. If I didn't push myself that hard, I couldn't have funded my rock-n-roll lifestyle.

A word of caution: DO NOT attempt to start your own private seasonal business at home until you've worked for an employer for at least *three* years. This is because it can take that long for the mistakes you made in your first year to come to light. You'll gain experience in how to keep clients returning to you and with any luck you'll see some nasty IRS letters about work *you* did, maybe even have a client audited. These can be stomach-turning events for you. Imagine how much scarier they would be without a safety-net of other people who've been through it before.

Lastly, once you've proven your metal in the fry-pan of H&R, why not go to work with your Dad? He could probably use seasonal help at tax-time too. Who knows? You might find out you like it enough to make a career at accounting.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Sfaith, I was not trying to put you down, I just wanted to know, because the line of questions made it sound like you were looking at a first job. And the "work from home" remark made me wonder whether you had transportation. If your dad has a CPA practice, most people would have assumed that you knew where he did the majority of his work. No harm meant. Good luck in your job search, but most new people working this week already were trained last Fall.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Kevinh5, no worries. Thanks for your help.

Sfaithj (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Lizzit, thanks so much for your response. That's good advice about not starting your own thing right away. In another forum, someone recommended me go independent because of the higher income so I'm glad I got another opinion on the matter. Thanks again. :-)

Poorhouse Road (talk|edits) said:

27 January 2007
Sfaithj your question about how much money you can make should not be your major concern at this time. This is late January and apparently you need a job. It's too late for training from H&R, I think, so you need to inquire with accounting offices in your area to see if they are looking for someone. Most have everything lined up, but there could be someone who is shorthanded and would put you to work in some fashion. Apparently your dad is not in the area and not an option for you. Good luck!

Blrgcpa (talk|edits) said:

28 January 2007
Let your dad put you to work for the tax season. It is usually about 10 weeks of working 60 hrs a day. A novice making $30,000 is in dreamland.

Deback (talk|edits) said:

January 28, 2007
Wow, I don't think even I could work 60 hours a day!

Blrgcpa (talk|edits) said:

28 January 2007
I meant 60 hrs/ week.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

28 January 2007
Slacker :) I work 60 hours a week during non-tax time. Tax time pushes it to 80 and January is 100. No wonder I'm tired!

Woodstock (talk|edits) said:

28 January 2007
Sfaithj - About 12 years ago, I was looking for a part-time job to work after working my full-time day job as a commodities assistant. There was a tax office down the street from where I lived, and I popped my head in there in February and asked if they needed a receptionist. They did, so I worked there for that tax season. The owner asked if I would be interested in doing taxes the following year, and since I was going back to school, I told him I would, and so he paid for my H&R training. I wound up working there each tax season for 7 years, going to school in the off season and taking brush up tax classes each year (I was in art school). I was married at the time, so I had extra support and money wasn't that much of an issue, and even when I decided to go off on my own and start my own business, it has taken a while to get to where I'm happy with what I take home. But, I also run a full staff office and have high overhead. Anyway, my point is that as tax preparation can be lucrative, I would probably not work independent from a company until I had enough knowledge to comfortably make decisions on another's tax return. There's a lot of mistakes you can make, and having someone to look over your shoulder at every return you do isn't a bad thing for a couple of years. If your Dad is willing to do that, then great. Good luck!

And, to make any serious money, unfortunately you gotta do the time. Unless you're charging a $300+ per hour fee. But I think you should have the EA or CPA behind your name for that.

My tax season preparer makes about $15,000 in three months. I give him $10/hr and 20% commission. I'm in Chicago.

Retired (talk|edits) said:

3 February 2007
I applied via online at HR; have 45 years experience doing taxes for myself and others. They said to come in and take the open book test on Monday. However, there are three categories that are closed book. It is a 3 hour test and I am studying the 3 closed book parts this weekend, dealing with EIC, best filing status and dependent determination.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Retired (talk|edits) said:

3 February 2007
I must pass exam by 85 per cent.

Beengel (talk|edits) said:

February 3, 2007
I took the course and passed last year, but chose to work elsewhere. Focus on the the 3 areas that you emntioned above that are closed book, EIC, filing status and dependents.

Beyond that, understand the basics, and know the general income brackets for EIC, and who must file, along with genereal income limits for IRA. Typically the test focuses on previous year as that is the teaching year, so know the 2005 amounts.

The test was a general T or F, multiple choice, and some problems to work.

Good luck.

Kokomo (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2008
Take the H&R course. Work there. Don't expect to make much -- about $10-$15/hr in CA (including the 20% commision for a first year). It is hard to make more because H&R tends to have more Tax Prepares than clients at any given time -- they want to minimize the client wait time and paying minimum wage makes it worthwhile for them. They pay employees minimum wage with a draw. Bottom line... it's not much money but arguably the best experience for someone starting.

Kokomo (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2008
You will NOT make anything close to $30K during the tax season. As a beginner, you will probably make about $5K - 10K even in the San Francisco area because you will spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for clients.

WPCPA (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2008
H&R block was advertising - outside of New York City - $7.50 per/hour.

Jdugancpa (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2008
I think you guys are whistling up the wrong tree, err, I mean barking past the graveyard, err, day late & half-dollar short, I mean, the train left the station 14 months ago on this particular discussion.

TheTinCook (talk|edits) said:

18 April 2008
It's not too late, if anything it's too early. If you want to work for Block you need to take the basic course which starts in Aug to Sep, it's best to know what to expect before commiting the money and time to the process.

There is a lot of down time which can be used to rack up online CPE. The company recently upgraded their online courses and they are pretty good. CCH if I recall. Say what you will about the company, but you get unlimited online and in person CPE for $20 (or free if you are Circ 230). It's a great benefit.

Kokomo is right on about potential earnings. I'd also point out that due to a change in policy last year, if you obtain Circ 230 status, you get instantly go up half the payscale.

To be suscessfull at the block, you really need to be assertive about managing your client base. The client service coordinators would just as soon assign your clients to somebody else. Some offices have problems with other professionals "sharking" your clients. My office was great about letting you stay beyond your schedule as long as you had clients. Other offices might not be as accomadating.

Jdugancpa (talk|edits) said:

19 April 2008
Well, Tin, if SfaithJ is still monitoring this discussion it is not too late. But the discussion terminated 2/3/07 until answered again by Kokoma & WPCPA. They've come along pretty late with their comments. Maybe they will be helpful to the next person inquiring about it, but, as I said, the train has already barked past the graveyard.

To join in on this discussion, you must first log in.
Personal tools