April 15, 2009

Jobs I've done: Tax Preparer...

In honor of Tax Day in the USA I want to tell you about a job I've done for the last 3-4 years part time with my friend:
I knew my friend did taxes for a living and he had offered that if I ever needed a part time job he'd be happy to show me how to do it. It just so happened that a few years ago I needed money to catch up on bills and I asked him if he was serious about it? He said he was. Turns out even a duffus like me can learn to do taxes.
Before this I had always gone to the good ol' guys at H&R Block to do my taxes, but was getting tired of getting ripped off with fees for every extra, so I was doing an online search and had been doing my own taxes for a year or two on my own, but never dared doing them for anyone else!
I went through a few days of training with him and learned the intricacies of standard deductions, schedule A, B, C etc etc etc. The job is mainly data entry and the system tells you when you've screwed up or not. Customer always tells you what they want to declare, so there's no going wrong, even if their information is wrong, it is what they tell you and the customer is always right!! There are days at his office when the customers are literally lined out the door and they'll wait however long they need to. Most of the customers he has are Spanish-speaking, they usually have lots of dependents, so a refund is almost always guaranteed. Most of all, customers are very appreciative when they're explained how things work and that the government will actually send money back to them---it blows their mind!
However, many of them have been used to the royal treatment and when their dependents grow older and they can no longer be used to get that nice kick back, they get very upset and demand that you find them money somewhere! Funny how the human behavior is, one year you're glad to discover you're getting money you weren't even expecting and next year you feel entitled to getting it all and there's hell to pay if you don't come through!!!!
I mainly do this job because it is easy money, but I really do wonder the real benefits of it. Of course the filing fees for my friend are a mere fraction of the rest of the professionals, which makes it very affordable for a lot of people. It has been interesting to learn this field, my friend keeps telling me that in the near future this may be a much more regulated industry, but until then I can pretty much fill out computer screens gallore and hope the customer doesn't go overboard in deductions. Oddly enough, I still do my own taxes, not even using my friend's software, I still get a much better deal on my own!!

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