There are many free online tax-training courses that can provide you with the tools necessary to become a tax preparer, run a business or maintain tax-exempt status. When it comes to taxes, having as much information as possible will prevent costly mistakes. Best of all, many of these resources can be found for free.
Learn to Prepare Taxes
You don't need to be a certified public accountant to make a living preparing taxes, nor do you need to spend a lot of money to learn how to become a tax preparer. Courses offered through organizations such as The Tax College (see Resources) give you a 30-minute daily course that can have you ready to prepare taxes within 30 days. These types of courses can get a beginner started confidently or help an experienced tax preparer add more value to his or her services. These courses offer a convenient, at-your-own-pace way to gather the tools and resources to open a tax-preparation practice.
Personal Tax Preparation
Many state tax commissions, such as Utah's, conduct online classes for free. These classes are designed to assist you in learning about the paperwork required to file taxes and how to file online. They also cover common deductions and credits that you may qualify for and what forms to fill out in order to receive them. These classes are great for a person who receives a 1099 or a W-2. Preparing your own taxes is less daunting when you know you are saving money and have the tax office on your side to help you file properly.
Business Tax Preparation
The Small Business Association and many local Chamber of Commerce councils offer free online courses that walk you through how to file for a tax identification number, city and county tax rules and special taxes on permitted products and services, such as financial services and alcohol. These courses help you maintain books that will make tax preparation easier. They also give timetables of when taxes are due and when paperwork needs to be filed.
Non-Profit Tax Preparation
The IRS has many rules that apply to nonprofit organizations. It is important to understand and know these rules to not get a tax penalty or have your tax exempt status revokes. The IRS maintains a website called "Stay Exempt" that offers an online workshop and courses to help you set up a 501(c)(3) properly and maintain all the regulations appropriately. Remember, ignorance does not equal absolution when it comes to taxes, and nothing can be more frustrating to a nonprofit that getting a tax bill for something that could have been avoided. These workshops help you understand the role of board members and takes you through various topics such as filing taxes, raising money and how donations can be deducted by donors.
CPAs are required to have so many hours per year in continuing education. This is required because tax laws change often, and what was a suitable deduction last year may not be one this year. While most continuing education courses cost money, there are some available free of charge through online resources such as Continuing Professional Education that allow you to print free exams to take.