Author Topic: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment (Read 6151 times)

Gimesalot

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Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« on: September 26, 2014, 08:26:32 AM »
I am starting my H&R Block tax class in a few weeks and will most likely get a job there once I finish.

Former H&R Block employees, CPAs, accountants, how can I make the most of this training and employment, so that 2015 tax season, I may get a better tax prep job?

Maigahane

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2014, 10:33:39 AM »
Make sure you really understand what goes into the tax forms. Some of their instructors teach you how to use their system and so all you learn is data entry. Do the tax forms by hand so you really learn them.

The first year you will probably only do basic returns. Again, this can vary by manager but I've heard of employees only being allowed to do 1040EZ's their first year. After you get through the first season you can take classes to learn more and they have a decent system set up to move you in the right direction. There are certification levels where you are recommended to take certain classes to move up (and you have to pass a test on that material) and each level builds of the prior one to more and more difficult stuff. The thing to keep in mind is that the first class you sign up for in a calendar year you have to sign a non-compete clause to not work for a competitor for the following tax season. So if you're planning on going off on your own or try to get a job with a CPA firm once you get some experience that's something to keep in mind.

Gimesalot

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2014, 12:29:38 PM »
Thanks for the great info Maigahane. Looks like I am going to have to find all the forms so that I may practice in my spare time.

I do plan on working for them when I am finished because there is an office about 20 blocks away (quick bike ride). However, I do understand that the pay is very very limited. Also, I hope they let me do more than 1040EZ because I can't even imagine charging some one to fill that out.

Eric

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2014, 12:37:24 PM »
The first year you will probably only do basic returns. Again, this can vary by manager but I've heard of employees only being allowed to do 1040EZ's their first year.

Wait. People actually pay H&R Block to file a 1040EZ?!? How stupid would someone.....ummm, nevermind.
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." -- Einstein

Eric

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2014, 12:38:14 PM »
There was this thread last month about the experience

/ask-a-mustachian/experience-as-seasonal-tax-preparer/
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." -- Einstein

catccc

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2014, 12:45:44 PM »
I worked for a "retail" tax prep biz in college. It was Jackson Hewitt. Maybe they are regional? IDK.

It was an interesting operation. I got paid a nominal hourly rate, plus a bonus at the end of the tax season. This was in 2002, but it was $7/hr back then. It was much less than the $11/hr I made working in a retail clothing shop at the same time, but since it was related to the work I anticipated doing after getting my degree, I took the job, and cut my hours at the store. I didn't go to their little tax school, I just interviewed and explained I'd taken an individual tax class as part of my coursework for my degree. The season end bonus was a percent of the fees we generated, including tax prep fees and fees for the refund anticipation loan. I did not try to sell the loans, but I was amazed at how many people opted for them. The fees were high on the RALs. Maybe 10% or more. It was a very expensive convenience. Maybe it was the area of Baltimore I was in, but many of the clients had really simple returns- just W-2s, many of the expecting to get EIC, so it was basically free money to them. If you tell someone who is strapped for cash that they can get $2,000 in a few weeks, or $1,750 now, I guess they just want their chunk of change ASAP.

The job was essentially data entry, and since most customers don't make appointments, you and your fellow tax preparers take customers hair-cuttery-style. You just take them on, one after the other, without much advance knowledge of what kind of return you will be preparing. A very small percentage of customers would request a particular preparer or make an appointment. But they are mostly simple returns. People with more complicated returns usually have money to go to a CPA firm, or think they are clever enough to do them on their own.

I'm not sure how you transition from a retail tax prep place to a more high end firm. By the time I hit the public scene, I had my degree and was enrolled in CPA exam prep classes.

Anyway, just my experience, thought I'd share it. Good luck to you!

Maigahane

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2014, 12:52:11 PM »
http://apps.irs.gov/app/picklist/list/formsPublications.html is where you can find IRS forms.

If you want to maximize your earnings (and are dedicated enough) you can take classes through H&R to prepare for the Enrolled Agent exam (kind of like a lesser version of the CPA that focuses on taxes). The classes are basically free (you to pay $20 a year for unlimited classes) and being an EA jumps you to the top of the pay scale. It's kind of a cheat since theoretically you would go up the certifications level by level (15 or so levels) then take the exam but they offer classes specifically to prepare you for the EA exam.
You can then still take advantage of the unlimited classes to learn everything more in-depth later

Catcc - RAL's are no longer legal. The IRS disallowed them a few years back. I agree, the fees were insane. H&R Block tries really hard to get customers to come back to the same tax preparer and have questions set up when an appointment is made for new clients to gauge the difficulty to help get clients with an appropriate preparer. I did work in a smaller office in a nicer area so that helped it not seem too "hair-cuttery-style"

catccc

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2014, 12:55:30 PM »
Catcc - RAL's are no longer legal. The IRS disallowed them a few years back. I agree, the fees were insane. H&R Block tries really hard to get customers to come back to the same tax preparer and have questions set up when an appointment is made for new clients to gauge the difficulty to help get clients with an appropriate preparer. I did work in a smaller office in a nicer area so that helped it not seem too "hair-cuttery-style"

1) I'm old.
2) That's good. I don't mind selling, I was "good" at it in my retail clothing setting. But I always felt uneasy with the RALs.

Maigahane

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2014, 12:58:37 PM »
The first year you will probably only do basic returns. Again, this can vary by manager but I've heard of employees only being allowed to do 1040EZ's their first year.

Wait. People actually pay H&R Block to file a 1040EZ?!? How stupid would someone.....ummm, nevermind.
No crap! I was amazed how many came in. Between Federal and State it's ~$80 for a 1040EZ. I would often let them know that they can do it online through H&R Block's website for free (and even show them how to get there) and some would STILL pay me to do it...then pay an extra $35 to have the $80 (plus the new $35) taken out of their refund so they didn't have to pay it upfront.

But it's a matter of what people are comfortable with too. My sister graduated hs as valedictorian, is a PA, and worked for a neurosurgeon but has me prepare her taxes that would be a 1040EZ if it weren't for student loan interest and then insists that I don't charge her enough

Maigahane

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Re: Making the most of H&R Block Tax Prep Course and Employment
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2014, 01:04:29 PM »
Catcc - RAL's are no longer legal. The IRS disallowed them a few years back. I agree, the fees were insane. H&R Block tries really hard to get customers to come back to the same tax preparer and have questions set up when an appointment is made for new clients to gauge the difficulty to help get clients with an appropriate preparer. I did work in a smaller office in a nicer area so that helped it not seem too "hair-cuttery-style"

1) I'm old.
2) That's good. I don't mind selling, I was "good" at it in my retail clothing setting. But I always felt uneasy with the RALs.
They just got rid of them around 2008. I worked one tax season where they were allowed and I was very clear with people just how expensive it was to get your money a couple of days faster and cringed whenever they still went for it.
Unfortunately it is still allowed to do loans in November/December based on estimated refunds (why that's different from a RAL I have no idea). Block calls them "Emerald Advances" and I would never volunteer to work when they did those