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2. Tax Preparer

The nitty-gritty: To prepare annual income tax returns for individuals or small businesses, you must be up to speed on what expenses can be deducted and what tax forms must be filed. Your job is to help filers avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes that could result from an examination by the Internal Revenue Service.
The hours: Expect to book plenty of hours between January and the April 15 tax deadline, particularly if you sign up with a tax prep firm.
Median pay range: $8.50 to $30.90 per hour
Qualifications: A degree in accounting is helpful, but not required. Computer use is mandatory. By 2012, you will be required to use IRS e-file if you prepare 11 or more returns. Under new IRS rules, you must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. It costs $64.25 per year. A competency exam is expected to be ready in mid-2011. Once you pass the exam — mandatory for most, but some certified public accountants and others are exempted — you'll become an IRS registered tax return preparer. Additionally, you must take continuing education courses. Bean counters should apply.

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