It depends on a number of factors, and a lot of weight is put on which forms are used and how much time it takes to get the right information to where it needs to go. Most of the time my charges are going to be based on which forms are used and how many sections of that form are used.
I always try to charge returning clients the same amount as they paid the year before even if additional forms are needed.
Can you just give examples of the most basic tax returns and how much you would charge?
Sure for example: A single taxpayer with one W-2 form can have their federal and state return prepared and efiled for about $100.
A family of four with basic itemized deductions, child care, interest, dividends and simple capital gains can have their federal and state return prepared and efiled for about $200.
Why don't you charge to efile?
First of all, I have to efile because of the number of returns I prepare each year. If that were not the case I would do it anyway because it’s better, faster, and there is less chance of error. A few years ago I saw the draw backs for charging for efiling for a few reasons. I had to convince clients who weren’t in a hurry for a refund or owed additional taxes that this is the way to go. My success rate was less that 100% back then because of the additional cost for efiling. Some just weren’t willing to pay for this service. Needless to say I don’t have that problem any more.
Are you available all year to answer questions that come up?
Yes. This is one of the services that my clients really benefit from. I beleive that its the hundreds of small changes we make over the course of our lives that makes us successful. Having someone you trust to bounce ideas off of can give you that edge. I do my best to only charge clients for the returns I file (1 time per year). That way there is nothing keeping them from calling me during the year when an issue comes up. I can't tell you how many times I saved a client hundredes or thousands of dollars from something they thought they could handle themselves.
What is your favorite part of tax preparation?
I like it all, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that this is truly a part time business for me. My full time job is so different that when I do tax it feels like a diversion that satisfies some missing part that needs to be fulfilled.
But if I have to say a favorite it’s this: when a first time client has been around the block a few times with the other preparers and one of my existing clients gives them a “this guy really knows his stuff” recommendation then we do our thing. And after it’s all said and done we both know this is going to be a lifelong mutually beneficial relationship. That’s what really "makes my day."