Definition of "Tax Specialist"

Peggy Wilkins real estate agent
Peggy Wilkins, Real Estate Agent Century 21 Gold Star Realty

A shallow yet funny definition of a tax specialist is someone who loved math since 1st grade. He or she has an elephant’s memory and is always up to date with the regulations and publications provided by the IRS, especially now, after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017.

The five types of tax specialists are:

  • Certified public accountant (CPA)
  • Annual filing season program participants (AFSP)
  • Enrolled agents
  • Tax Attorneys
  • The fake ones (with no credentials)

Tax preparers are required to follow some form of continuing education in order to stay current. If you are tempted by this job, a shortcut would be to become a certified public accountant (CPA), which normally takes about 5 years of high education. Other valuable qualifications or exams are the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) and Chartered Institute of Tax (CIOT). Be careful, though, because some people pretend to be tax preparers but have no qualification. They don’t even know the definition of a tax specialist! They’ll do the paperwork very cheap but you could better keep that money in your pocket and do it yourself.

What does a tax specialist do with all that knowledge? Only good things! A tax specialist counsels individuals and companies in order to file for the appropriate tax or even to reduce their tax dollars. A tax professional does not necessarily help people avoid paying taxes, although there are situations when this is possible. For example, if the owners of a vacation home rented it for less than 15 days in a year, a tax specialist would tell them they don’t have to declare that income, thus no tax will be applied to that extra income. Real estate investors will find a good friend in the person of a tax specialist.

Most self-employed people like real estate agents could save a lot more dollars or increase their tax returns if they included all the deductible expenses allowed by the IRS. A tax preparer knows the legislation in depth. His job is to increase your profits after all.

Do you know all the tax deductions for real estate agents? Realtors can deduct expenses related to:

  • Advertising
  • Software
  • Business entertainment
  • Conventions, seminars and trade fairs
  • Rent
  • Education and training
  • Tax preparation fees
  • Charitable donations
  • Client gifts
  • Insurance
  • Franchise fees
  • Milage

But there might be even more, that’s why it’s important to work with a tax expert and fight for every dollar!

The cost of tax preparation depends on whether the taxpayer has chosen to file an itemized deduction or a standard deduction. According to the National Society of Accountants (NSA), the average tax preparation fee in 2017 was $273 for individuals and $457 for businesses.  

After reading the definition of a tax specialist, you see that this career is a tough one. Not everybody enjoys math and problem solving, meeting tight deadlines and paying attention to details. For all these, a tax expert takes home about $50,000/year on average, or about $17/hour, according to PayScale.

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