Preparing taxes is a competitive industry and independent preparers need to find ways to stand out. Many taxpayers prefer to use an independent tax return preparer but some are afraid of running into problems if mistakes are made. For this reason, they choose to use a large tax firm instead, even though it’s not their first choice.

You can stand out from the crowd and increase your client base by proving you have the same knowledge needed to file taxes correctly, as the representatives at these large firms do. One of the best ways to do that is by participating in the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP). This program is voluntary and its purpose is to encourage individual tax preparers to take part in continuing education courses.

Once the program is completed, you’ll receive a Record of Completion to add to your credentials. In order to receive the record of completion, you must complete 18 hours of continuing education courses that includes the Annual Federal Tax Refresher (AFTR) course. These courses must be given by a CE Provider that is approved by the IRS but it’s certainly worth the effort.

Completing this program offers the following benefits:

  • Your name will be included in the new directory of qualified tax preparers added to the official IRS website.
  • It’s a great way to stay updated on all the tax laws and any changes that take place.
  • The Record of Completion is something you can show clients to prove you are up-to-date on all the latest laws associated with filing taxes.

Many taxpayers prefer the personal service they receive when using an individual preparer but they are looking for individuals they can trust to do the job right the first time. No one wants to go through an audit or deal with costly mistakes, which is why they hire a professional to take care of it for them.

Completing the Annual Filing Season Program will give them peace of mind because it shows you are qualified and that will help you stand out as an independent tax preparer.