It’s tax season again. Like every year at this time, you’re wondering if you could start a home-based tax preparation service. But you don't know how that would ever fit around your life as a stay-at-home mom (or dad!). Maybe your family is large. Maybe you even homeschool your crew. Do you keep asking yourself, “Can I be a tax preparer from home?” Still don’t know the answer? Read on!
Did you know that there were over 3 million homeschoolers in the U.S. for the 2021-2022 academic year? Or that in a growing number of these families, neither parent is strictly the stay-at-home homeschooling parent? So it really is possible to work while raising a family, even with homeschooling in the mix.
And tax preparation can potentially bring in over $50,000 a year with the right training and strategies. Even better, you can earn this income in a flexible manner that accommodates your family’s lifestyle. And you can do it in less than full-time hours, working with clients you love!
“But… can I start a home-based tax preparation service if I'm a busy homeschooling mom?
I recently interviewed Kirstin Reeder, a mom of nine. She currently homeschools her youngest four children while running Purple Sapphire Business Solutions, which offers income tax preparation and bookkeeping. Kirstin is solid proof it's possible to start a home-based tax preparation service even with a large family.
Kirstin talks with me about how starting her home-based tax preparation service fits into her life. She also shares how the training she received from TaxBiz not only prepared her to provide income tax business services, but helped her build business skills, too.
Would you love to earn your own tax preparation and bookkeeping business income? If you're not sure where to begin, this interview is for you. If you need inspiration to start a home-based tax preparation service alongside a busy family, it’s for you, too!
Can you tell us about how and why you originally decided to work from home?
I homeschool my children, so essentially the ONLY way I can work is from home. 🙂 I have wanted to have some sort of “side hustle” ever since my oldest was a toddler, to help out with the family finances. I also love learning new things and apparently have an entrepreneurial spirit…and am a terrible homemaker haha!
You began as a work-from-home bookkeeper. What made you decide to start a home-based tax preparation service, too?
I wanted to be able to add value to what I offer my clients. It is not uncommon for clients to want a “one-stop shop” and have their bookkeeper also prepare their taxes. However, I am able to add value to my bookkeeping clients’ experience with me even if I don’t prepare their tax return by knowing a lot about taxes. The more I know about preparing tax returns, the better bookkeeper I am for my clients.
What have you accomplished since you finished TaxBiz?
I became an Enrolled Agent around the same time I finished TaxBiz, and I have since gone on to become a Certified Tax Coach. When I first started, I could do a basic tax return. I have since gone on to file much more complex ones and to offer strategic tax planning. I plan to offer tax resolution services eventually as well.
Did you feel the course material in TaxBiz was presented in a way that makes it easy to follow and learn how to start a home-based tax preparation service?
Very much so! I love that they go line by line in the videos to explain what each line is for. TaxBiz doesn’t cover all tax situations or highly complex tax returns, but the tax code is so complex that it’s impossible for any course to do that. TaxBiz covers the most common tax forms: 1040, 1065, 1120S, and 1120.
Do you feel that TaxBiz provided you the knowledge and skills needed to start your home-based tax preparation service offerings? Why or why not?
It provided the basics. I definitely have had to continue my education and research to properly report some of my clients’ situations – TaxBiz didn’t cover everything. But NO course covers everything. I seem to end up with really weird tax clients haha…a tattoo shop that rents chairs to tattoo artists, but rather than charging a flat rent they take a commission – that results in a different sort of tax situation that I had to go searching for. How to handle S-corps with more than 2 owners, all with different ownership percentages was something I had to seek out. I have gotten a couple clients this year who have exercised incentive stock options, received RSUs as part of their compensation, etc., and I have had to find continuing education to learn how to deal with those specific issues.
However, TaxBiz gave me the tools to grasp the fact that there are some unusual tax situations out there, and the TaxBiz community has been very helpful to answer questions or point me in directions to learn more.
Which TaxBiz lessons, tools, or resources have been the most helpful to you in your business?
The step-by-step instructions on how to prepare tax returns, and the tax prep pricing calculator. Many tax courses discuss theory only, but TaxBiz walks you through the tax form step by step, explaining what to do on each line. Pricing is always a bear, and legally we are not allowed to share what we charge with other tax practitioners, so having a calculator to guide us is incredibly helpful!
When you graduated, did you feel prepared to get clients and start your own home-based tax preparation service? If not, what do you wish had been included to help you get ready to launch your business?
Yes. Not only was the instruction good, the community was invaluable as I had questions. And when it comes to actually running a tax business, marketing, etc.? Wow! Tax courses almost never include the “business operations” piece.
Do you still find the support of TaxBiz useful, or have you outgrown it with experience?
I have outgrown the support from TaxBiz directly, but I still receive support from the message board. I can log on with whatever questions I have and receive advice, information, or a direction from others more experienced than I am.
Did you start out with financial goals for your business? If so, how long did it take before you met them?
I’m still working on that – I haven’t met my financial goals yet, but I think I just might this year. I have been preparing taxes for 3 years. I probably would have met them earlier if I weren’t homeschooling 4-6 kids during this time, and I was working full time with the Digital Bookkeeper Association for a year of it. 🙂
What’s your favorite part of owning a home-based tax preparation service?
Helping people not pay too much in taxes. I hate it when the government keeps more than their fair share of my clients’ money, and I especially hate it when it’s due to bad/incomplete tax advice/preparation. When tax returns are prepared correctly, my clients get to keep more of their money.
What would you change if you could?
I would stick to my guns and not take on W2-only clients! It is not my goal to compete against the “tax franchises” and to be a 1040 mill. I want to focus more on long-term, higher-paying clients, even if I have fewer of them, than many low-paying clients that run through my office like a revolving door. Since quality of life is important to me, I do not want to have to work 60-80 hours a week during tax season, and when I have hundreds of small clients, that is very likely. I want to be able to take a vacation during tax season if I want!
You’re a parent of nine still homeschooling your youngest four. Can you share your best tips for making homeschooling, a large family, and a work-from-home business all coexist?
- A separate workspace or a good pair of earmuffs!
- I outsource as much as I can for my kids’ school and take on a mostly supervisory role rather than a hands-on teacher role.
- I plan out a daily schedule of sorts at the beginning of each semester. I try to block off my work time for when I am naturally the most focused.
- I make my kids help with the cleaning!
Can you share what a typical day looks like for you?
We do school in the morning, and I typically start work around noon or so. What I work on each day varies depending on deadlines. I spend about 3-5 hours a day working. Depending on the time of year, I may spend this time working on tax returns, filing 1099s, attending continuing education seminars, bookkeeping work, administrative work, looking at strategies to reduce my clients’ tax bills in future years.
Do your hours intensify during tax season? If so, what adjustments do you need to make to your family life to accommodate this shift?
To some extent, yes. My kids fend for themselves a bit more when it comes to meals. I also stay up much later and work weekends. I would say my weekly work hours increase to around 30 hours a week during tax season…when it’s not tax season I work more around 20 hours a week. When my processes have not been streamlined, it has been more like 35-40 hours a week, but I have been working hard to follow my processes better and to have better boundaries with clients. (For example, I require that they have their information to me at least one month prior to the deadline…otherwise I cannot guarantee their returns will be completed on time).
This year, you took training from the American Institute of Certified Tax Planners. Do you feel your TaxBiz and Bookkeeper Business Academy (Now Bookkeeper Launch) training prepared you for that step?
To some extent, yes. Good bookkeeping is essential when it comes to implementing a tax strategy, and that was emphasized in my AICTP course. What I learned at AICTP reinforced the skills I learned in TaxBiz and the importance of not billing by the hour. When I bill by the hours, the more efficient and experienced I become, the less I get paid. It incentivizes me to work more slowly. This isn’t good for the client either – not only do they not know how much their tax return will cost, but my inexperience costs them more.
You gave us a quote: “Where you are right now is not where you need to stay.” You added that growth and learning new things are always possible! Can you tell us more about this and how it applies to your life? For instance, what’s your favorite way besides courses to learn new things? What do you enjoy learning outside of your professional life?
I thrive off information and learning. Google rabbit holes suck me in often! I learn about all sorts of things…hobbies, medical information, random trivia, you name it.
If a reader wants to start a home-based tax preparation service of their own, what should they be aware of?
Do not expect one course to prepare you for everything. You must know how to research. The tax code is incredibly complex, and it seems like just as I learn something, I realize there are more things I don’t know. It is also constantly changing. Having a radar that questions whether something makes sense is very important…that comes with time though. I also think it’s important to “hang out” in different tax FB groups, on the TaxBiz message board, etc., so you can read up on other tax situations and learn from them. Those situations have often been what makes me realize that I need to question certain things on the tax returns I prepare.
Can you share 3-5 useful tips for someone just considering TaxBiz as a way to become a professional tax preparer?
- You must be a critical thinker. If something makes you scratch your head as you’re preparing a tax return, figure out why. ASK QUESTIONS ALWAYS.
- I HIGHLY recommend The Tax Book as a resource.
- Even though uncredentialed tax preparers aren’t required to complete continuing education, take courses anyway.
- Buddy up with other tax pros so you can bounce questions off them.
- Give back to others – don’t just take!
Conclusion: TaxBiz enabled Kirstin Reeder to add home-based tax preparation services to her bookkeeping biz.
Kirstin’s choice to start a home-based tax preparation service along with bookkeeping has changed her business for the better. With the foundation she built by investing in TaxBiz, she was better prepared to further advance her skills. And she achieved this even while homeschooling four of her nine children. And she has ongoing community support as she takes on more unique and challenging clients.
Want to read more about how another TaxBiz graduate used her knowledge to start her home-based tax preparation service? Read my interview with Kim Erick here. You can also check out our TaxBiz reviews to get a feel for what to expect once you’ve enrolled. Here's the beginner review, and the in-depth review is here.
So, can you see how TaxBiz can help you start a home-based tax preparation service that fits your family’s needs and adds money to your bank account? Are you ready to invest in yourself and your future?
Are you interested, but still have questions?
Are you looking for a bite-sized, in-person taste of what TaxBiz has to offer? Check out the free workshop series!
Kirstin Reeder used her training from TaxBiz to start a home-based tax preparation service. And she’s done that as a homeschooling mom of nine! Do you think you could be the next mom to create your own work-from-home tax business? Drop us a line and join the conversation about this well-paying and flexible anywhere and anytime career!