For short, the Internal Revenue Services, IRS is the official governmental entity that deals in revenue, taxation, finance laws, and almost all other aspects of revenue management within the US. Being a large country housing some of the wealthiest people on earth. With a booming economy, the US government goes through quite an extensive processing phase for the various industries and individuals it caters to. Put another way, it’s the hub for all the central and peripheral taxation and accounting dealings across multiple systems, including private and public ones. IRS Certified individuals can help individuals with all things related to taxes.
This also means that the IRS requires many knowledgeable and lithesome volunteers, employees, and third-party sources to distribute the humongous workflow and accomplish its goals. However, this recruitment comes at a cost for both the IRS and those who choose to work with it; the IRS receives a generous amount of applications for qualification, and the applicants have to fulfill the eligibility criteria by undertaking the IRS’s certification program. Since not everybody can handle the nature of services the IRS delivers, these certifications help them separate the best of the crowd from the others.
With that in mind, here’s what you have to know about the IRS certification:
How Do You Get IRS Certified?
The work at the IRS doesn’t correspond to any specific discipline or study program. Sure, there are associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees that have some relevance, but the IRS is a niche of its own. Therefore, whatever your qualification is, the IRS will still require your assessment before you’re allowed to work there. For this purpose, both the IRS and other business and taxation preparatory entities have designed modulated learning, mock practices, and certification to ensure that the IRS doesn’t waste its vacancies on the wrong people.
These courses may be challenging for some job positions, but they’re not as lengthy or demanding as regular degree programs.
To get an IRS certification, you may enroll in any preparatory courses affiliated with and recognized by the IRS. The place you choose depends on the workforce you want to specialize in. Different sites may have separate programs, but they’re all meant to help you land a spot within the good ranks at the IRS.
Once you complete their 60-hour study material, you can then sit the IRS certification exam and perhaps the interview that follows in some programs.
Once you clear your IRS certification test, you can apply for licensure at the IRS and recruit new clients to whom you may provide services using your newly-acquired skills. However, if you want to work at the IRS and not as an independent preparer or a third-party firm, you may have to apply for licensure and a job position. At the end of the whole process, you will get a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) that will allow you certain privileges within and outside the IRS framework.
So, what options do you get for certification? Here’s a list that may help:
Which Areas Can You Be IRS Certified In?
The broader category that the IRS uses for all its certified staff is ‘tax preparer.’ However, depending on your qualification and the kind of exam procedure you follow, you can go for various professions at the IRS. These include:
1. Tax Preparer:
A tax preparer is a job that most people quickly get once they have received their PTIN number. As a tax preparer, you find clients who need assistance filing, studying and preparing tax returns. The job doesn’t require higher qualifications, either. Tax preparers, however, cannot represent their clients in audits or courts.
2. Enrolled Agent:
Enrolled Agents with the IRS also have a huge career scope in the taxation industry. They are more closely affiliated with the IRS than tax preparers. They may often represent their clients in courts and attorneys.
3. CPA and CFP:
Certified Public Accountants and Certified Financial Planners are two somewhat different and more advanced career discourses than tax preparers and EAs. The career portfolio is much more extensive to get better career opportunities in both fields. The two differ slightly in the job description, but you can represent your client at IRS audits in both cases.
4. Tax Attorneys
As a tax attorney, you’ll need a PTIN and your law degree to qualify for client representation in courts. The job description doesn’t quite match those of other job niches. Instead, this is one of the most advanced career levels of tax preparation and maintenance, so you’ll chiefly represent your clients in courts and other legal settlements.
How to Apply for an IRS Certification
You can find form 6744 on IRS’s web page for volunteer certification training, through which you will find out about the various certification levels you can apply for. This is a test application form, which will continue to increase in difficulty level with incremental certification ranks.
The minimum is the Basic level at which you will be required to file tax returns for ordinary citizens. Then you have the Advanced level, where you qualify to prepare taxes for high-profile individuals and organizations. The third is the Military level, which denotes that you’re qualified enough to work with the militia ranks. The fourth and the highest in the International level where you can prepare tax returns for people with dual citizenships, immigrants, and other people with their taxation flowing through multiple countries. You have to pass each certification by 80% to get to the subsequent level.
The website also features form 13615, which contains a code of conduct for tax preparation volunteers. When you apply for preparation, the IRS allows you to select any of its affiliates to acquire the training and preparation material. Still, it prefers those candidates the most who come through IRS’s Link & Learn Taxes course. The website also has supplemental courses for Puerto Ricans, foreigners, and scholars. There’s also a Circulation 230 Federal Tax Law Updated Test that aspirants may take part in their certification.
Tips to Get Your Certification Successfully
Although an IRS certification isn’t, particularly hard, you may still end up in a thousand loopholes or traps, risking your certification and career prospects. If you don’t have anyone to turn to, here are some tried and tested tips compiled to help you get your certificate without a hitch!
1. Get Hooked to the IRS Website: The IRS’s website is like a newspaper. It’s ultimately the best source to get all the information and updates regarding taxes. From new regulations to organizational archives, the website has all the best resources and networks from where you can prepare for your certification. Additionally, the website is the most trustworthy in picking cues and hints regarding the test, so you need to pay attention to whatever it says.
2. Choose Your Subjects Wisely: If you’ve already finished your degree, this tip isn’t of much use. However, if you’ve decided to pick tax preparation as your career from an earlier stage, then it’s best to stick to subjects such as accounting, finance, business, law, and others. An academic background in these areas will help you take on your preparation with a conceptually sound, all-rounded view. You’ll naturally find the test material easier and may not need retries to pass the test, either!
3. Check for Affiliation: A pretty gruesome trend these days is that there seems to be plenty of scam preparatory centers that do very little to polish you for a career. Some are outright fake setups and are not remotely affiliated with the IRS. If you go for these preparation centers, you may not only be rejected from the IRS certification test but may also end up being robbed of the fee you may have paid to the preparatory center. On a similar note, also make sure to avoid falling for fake news and misinformation from your social and conventional media sources. The IRS keeps many of its test decisions confidential, so your best bet is to prepare as much as possible and keep yourself updated through the website!
How Does an IRS Certification Help You?
An IRS certification is a huge help in your career anywhere within the taxation, finance, accounting, or business fields. Although the Basic level IRS certification is mandatory to start as a tax preparer, it also lends credibility to your profile in other professions. PTIN certifications at higher levels mean higher career prospects, but they also open the door to many more opportunities in the public and private sectors.
It might not come as a surprise that with an IRS certificate, it may be easier for you to work in embassies, MNCs, courts, and many other national and global entities. Long story short, the certification has a vital job security element because it’s linked to many career paths no matter what your interest is!
How Do You Maintain Your IRS Certification?
The IRS certification is not a one-off process. Since you choose to work with the IRS as a career, you’ll be like any other employee within the United States. You will have contract renewals, certification verification, and s host of other formalities to fulfill every couple of years or months depending upon the legal requirements set in the Code of Conduct form you signed while sitting for your test. Here are some of the conditions for certification maintenance that the IRS upholds and requires its EAs and preparers to fulfill:
- EA Renewal: As an Enrolled Agent, the IRS will require you to renew your status based on your SSN number every three years. You can renew your status using form 8554 of the IRS.
- PTIN Renewal: The PTIN you get also needs a yearly renewal. The IRS keeps from mid-October till January 31st for this purpose.
- Continuing Education: The IRS also likes to keep its employees, volunteers, and affiliates up-to-date with all the recent trends in the academia, technology, and ethics of taxation. For this purpose, you have to dedicate 72 hours in three years to further education in the discipline and sync it with your renewal cycle. Out of this, you have to dedicate a minimum of 16 hours each year to the cause and take at least two hours on ethical education.
- EA Logo: You can get a black or white-colored logo of EA authentication, which you may have to use in all your promotions and workplace materials.
- Information Update: If your contact number or other credentials change from the ones you submitted initially, you may contact the IRS at the Office of Enrolled Agent Policy and Management, 985 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI, 48232, or at 855-889-7959. You may provide your old and new information details, SSN, ID number, and date of contact.
The IRS certification test isn’t difficult to pass, but there are specific guidelines you need to follow for your own good. By sticking only to official news sources and keeping yourself grounded in the latest information regarding taxation, you can surely make it to the higher levels of the certification and establish yourself reasonably well!