Coming Soon: Shortage of Expert Tax Preparers?

By Andy Frye

For a few years now it has seemed like everybody and their Mama is doing taxes.

In some neighborhoods, you can stand on a corner and see 5-10 tax preparation offices just from where you’re standing.  The insurance office does taxes, the tax preparation chain offices are stacked up literally next door to each other, the money transfer place does taxes, the travel agency does taxes.  Even the flower place does taxes!

This insane overcrowding has caused many professional tax preparers to depart the profession.

But now, certain trends have emerged which may actually create a shortage of expert tax professionals.

Is it time for you to consider getting back into the tax business?

The Second Oldest Profession in the World

The first major trend creating a possible shortage of tax preparers is the advanced (and advancing more every day) age of tens of thousands of today’s top tax pros.

Time Magazine ran a piece in April of 2017, in fact, showing that Tax Preparer is the profession with the highest concentration of workers over age 66.

14.2% of Tax Preparers are over age 66, according to Time Magazine.

Now keep in mind, too, that these more experienced tax professionals are often the best people in the field.  Often these are people with hundreds, even thousands of clients, databases overflowing with clients.  If you’re wondering why it’s challenging to get your start in the tax business, a big reason is because these “OG’s” are tough to compete with!

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) likewise reported back in 2015 that 75% of CPAs would be retiring within 15 years.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Many of these veteran tax pros still have gas in the tank, many of these folks are TIRELESS LEGENDS with virtually limitless stamina, and they will do taxes until their last days.  But fact is, Father Time catches up with all of us at some point.  “Slowing down” and retirement of these pros will create a massive void in the tax industry.

People who used to be tax professionals, and then departed the profession because it got so dang crowded, can look at this trend as a massive opportunity.

tax preparer shortage

More Difficult Tax Returns

The second major trend that’s causing former tax pros to wonder “should I get back into the Tax Game?” would be the trend towards more difficult tax work.

Listen, the online do-it-yourself software programs have eaten up a lot of the “low hanging fruit” simple type of tax returns, and that trend will only continue to accelerate.

The people who need professional tax help these days typically have trickier situations, such as:

  • Self-employed.  Did you know that, by 2020, it’s projected that 50% of all workers will be self-employed?
  • International tax filers.  In our global economy, more and more workers move abroad for work, or even renounce their U.S. citizenship and become permanent foreign residents.  International tax is complex and is considered the #1 “niche” in the tax industry today.
  • Self-employed with international business.  A riddle wrapped inside an enigma.  Bring your wallet to pay for this type of tax work because you’re going to need it.

And the list of tricky, profitable niches goes on.

Add potential Tax Reform Simplification to the mix and the situation becomes even more dire for tax preparers who are just “looking to make a quick buck” and aren’t true experts.

Point is, many of the tax preparers doing “easy” work will be going away within the next few years.  Our hyper-competitive economy rewards people who do work that other people (and robots) can’t.  Former tax professionals looking to get back into the game are finding opportunity in finding a niche that’s in demand, such as business entity tax work.

Increased Regulation — Likely

“You need a license to cut hair, but you don’t need a license to prepare tax returns?”

This statement, while entirely true, doesn’t make sense to most people who hear it.

The IRS has tried for years to implement a mandatory “Competency Exam” and mandatory continuing education for tax professionals.

So far, those efforts have failed, and the IRS has been relegated to operating a “voluntary” testing and continuing education program called the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP).

No way to tell right now what future regulations will look like for tax professionals, but you can bet your bottom dollar that any regulation that comes about will drive out tens of thousands of tax preparers who just don’t want to deal with more bureaucracy.

The possibility (really more of a likelihood) of increased regulation is yet another factor that’s causing tax preparers who let their registrations expire to think about getting back into the game.

So, So Easy and Cheap to “Re-Become” a Professional Tax Preparer

Final factor causing thousands of former professional tax preparers to think about getting back into the game is how utterly easy  and cheap it is to reclaim your professional status.

If you’re in California, you just complete a 60 hour basic income tax course, and the Pronto Tax School 60 hour online CTEC course even gives you step-by-step directions of exactly how to register with CTEC, get your PTIN from IRS, and anything else needed.

The whole thing, including course and your registration fee, costs less than $300

It’s pretty wild that we can help people become a tax preparer in California for less than many tax preparers charge for one tax return, but hey, we’re gonna go with it while it lasts and help as many people as we can!

If you’re outside of California, it’s even easier and cheaper to become a tax pro.  You don’t even need to take a tax course, in fact.  However, we do strongly recommend that you take a basic income tax course, so that you’re ready to serve real clients and display your professional level knowledge.

(Note: if you practice tax preparation in Oregon, Maryland, or New York, you have some other requirements that are clearly described in our federal version basic income tax course.)

All of our “become a tax preparer” courses explain exactly what to do; our Members don’t have questions about “what to do next” because, having helped thousands of people to become tax pros, we know what the questions are and we provide ultra-clear directions.

If all this sounds appealing to you, Pronto Tax School could be the right solution for you to get back in the Tax Game.

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Let's Make Sure We Direct You to the Right
Training for Your Needs!

Please click the button below for your primary tax credential.

Not sure which credential applies to your situation?  Click here to reach our support team and we'll help you decide.