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H&R Block Income Tax Course – How to Become a Tax Preparer

By Kira Botkin

hr block logoIf you’re handy with finances, you might have helped some of your family or friends do their taxes. Want to get paid for it? If you take the H&R Block tax course, you’ll learn a lot about how taxes work and get an opportunity to work for H&R Block during tax season.

This class is very comprehensive and will teach you a ton about taxes that you can use in your own tax preparation, when you’re helping your friends, or planning ahead for next year. I took it a few years ago and had a great time while learning a lot.

H&R Block Tax Course

Tax Concepts & Curriculum

The class instructs on basic concepts, such as claiming dependents, what’s on the 1040 tax form, different filing statuses, types of income, common credits and deductions, and how to deal with capital gains tax and self-employment income.

Once you’ve mastered these items, you’ll learn about more complicated subjects like depreciation, rental income, retirement income, and advance tax payments. You’ll also learn how to do more complicated returns, such as amended returns.

Depending on how the class is structured, you may have several smaller tests and quizzes, but the ultimate goal is the big test at the end. If you get a good enough grade on that test, you are then permitted to interview for a position with H&R Block.

Cost

Cost varies by area, but is generally between $100 and $300 and includes textbooks and workbooks. The price will depend on your location and is generally more expensive in big cities.

Where to Take the Class

Since most H&R Block locations are not open in the off-season, they typically convert these spaces into classrooms. To see if there is one in your area, enter your zip code here. You’ll usually meet at the same location for every class period.

Previous Experience

No previous experience is necessary, just a willingness to learn. It can certainly help you pick up the concepts faster if you’ve had previous classes in finance or economics, but no math skills are needed. In fact, you get to use a calculator at all times.

Also, you’re not permitted to take the class if you’re currently working for another tax preparation company or intend to look for a job preparing taxes somewhere other than H&R Block. People show up with different backgrounds and from all walks of life, which makes the classes pretty interesting.

Time Commitment

These classes are pretty intensive! Overall, you’ll spend at least 84 hours actually in the classroom. The most common class schedule breaks it into two 3-hour periods per week, and most sessions will run from August to November. Alternatively, some locations have September to November classes which meet three times a week. There are also evening classes available as well as ones during the day. Some locations offer all-day Saturday classes that run for several weeks in a row.

Outside of the classroom, you’ll be expected to do a lot of homework. In fact, I spent almost as much time on homework as I did in class. Even though the teacher reviews the homework in class, you’ll need to study hard on your own to keep up. I probably wouldn’t schedule any other serious commitments at the same time as this class.

hr block income tax course

Working as a Tax Preparer for H&R Block

Getting a Job with H&R Block

H&R Block is one of the largest seasonal employers in the country and almost all the tax preparers work from January through April. That said, senior staff with more experience and training work at some locations year-round.

Once you have successfully passed the basic training test, you can opt to put in your application for an interview. This doesn’t guarantee you an interview, however. If there are a lot of people in your class or area, the competition might be pretty steep. H&R Block looks for tax knowledge first and foremost, but since they train their staff to give advice, they also look  for candidates who are passionate about helping people.

If you’re interested in spreading the tax-savings bug and like to help, this job might be a good fit for you. However, if you want to avoid people and just type numbers on a screen, it is probably going to be torture.

Pay Scale and Wages

This is what most people want to know. Each H&R Block is a little different on pay, but in the area where I took the class, we were told that pay would be composed of a base with bonuses depending on how many returns we processed, and how complicated those returns were. The base pay at the time was slightly above minimum wage.

In other words, if it’s the beginning of January and business is slow, you might not be making a lot. But the closer it gets to April, the more you’ll likely make. We were told that the average first-year tax preparer doing relatively uncomplicated returns would  make $10 to $13 per hour. Of course, if you already have some tax-preparing skills and experience, you may be able to take on more complicated returns and get paid more.

H&R Block offers additional classes that you become eligible for once you’ve passed the basic class. In many locations, your base pay will increase every time you take an additional class. Once you take on more complicated returns, your bonuses will be even bigger as well.

Keep in mind that most preparers work only January to April, so you can’t expect this to be a full-time income. However, if you have a flexible schedule, are retired, or are looking to parlay this experience into something else, an H&R Block job can be a great opportunity. A lot of preparers come back to work during tax season every year, but only a handful stay on full-time in each area.

In the off season, these preparers deal with IRS letters and tax audits, back taxes, taxes for the deceased, tax extensions, and amended tax returns. Typically, full-time preparers are very experienced and have several years or more with the company. If you’re interested in a management track and are willing to travel, positions may open up for you once you’ve completed a season of tax preparation. Most of the upper-level people I met started out in the basic class like everyone else, and a lot of them had no prior tax training or finance background either.

Final Word

The H&R Block tax course is a boot camp for learning about taxes – you’ll cover a lot of material, learn about a range of financial topics, and come out able to prepare different kinds of returns. The experience can be valuable for your career and can help you save money on your own taxes too. For example, one of my friends who took the course learned about amended returns and all the commonly overlooked personal tax deductions she should have been claiming. As a result, she amended a previous year’s return and got a check from the IRS for over $1,000!

Are you considering taking the H&R Block tax course this year? If you’ve taken it in the past, what was your experience like?

Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

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