How Much Am I Going to Pay for Tax Preparation?

That’s a fair question.  But it is often difficult to get a good answer.  Most tax preparation businesses use one of the following 2 business models:

  • Charge by the hour – this is the normal model for CPA’s. They may charge $125 – $175 per hour or more.  On top of that, there may be administrative charges for printing, assembling, e-filing, etc.  A moderately difficult return might take 2-3 hours to prepare so you typically see minimum fees in the $300-$400 range, often much higher.
  • Charge by the form – this is the model most of the big chains use.
    • They charge for the basic form, which will be a 1040EZ (cheapest) or a 1040A or a 1040 (most expensive).
    • On top of that, they charge for each form that is needed to report specific income. A sole proprietor might use a Schedule C to report business income.  You might use a Schedule D to report investment income or a Schedule B to report interest income.
    • Finally, there are worksheets that pop up to help explain particular calculations that might be used in the preparation of a return, such as depreciation.

If you call one of the big chains, it is very difficult to get a firm price.  They may know what the basic form charge is, and they might know what forms are needed after asking some basic questions and they know the price for each for each of those forms but they don’t know what worksheets are going to pop up and most firms have a charge for each worksheet, even though they were generated by the software and did not involve any human time.  Also, if they are not given a complete and accurate financial picture by the person on the phone, needed forms will be left out of the quote and you end up with an angry client because they were quoted one price and it turns out to be more expensive.

How AFS is Different and Better for You

We also charge by the form but we keep our prices competitive by:

  1. Having lower prices for basic forms than most other preparers provide
  2. Having lower prices for other forms than most other preparers provide
  3. Not charging for worksheets

To make the quoting process more accurate, we have developed a form which captures what we need to know in about 98% of client situations.  There may be situations that are not captured by these questions that could have tax implications but they will be rare.  And yes, if an extra form is required because we didn’t capture all the information we need to prepare the tax return (because it wasn’t provided), there is likely to be an additional charge above that which was originally quoted.  However, if needed info is on the form and we didn’t quote properly, the additional form required will be prepared at no charge.

The only problem is that the answer you want is not instantaneous, but it will be accurate.  We think we can return a quote to you within 4 business hours of the questions being answered and sent back to us.

Your privacy is important to us – we will never share your personal information.