How Much Does It Cost to Get My Return Prepared?
Contrary to popular belief, tax return preparation is NOT simply data entry into some software program. There are legal implications with every entry made and decisions which must be evaluated to ensure that those entries comply with the law. Fees are based with this fact in mind. Please note: Initial Consultations are billed and payable at our current hourly rates. If you decide to engage our services, that fee will be applied to your overall billed service.
With that said:
We can provide a very rough estimate based upon looking at prior year tax returns and to the extent the current year return will be similar to those, but fees do increase over time. However, there are many other variables that can impact the cost of preparing your tax return, such as:
1) The complexity of the forms required in your tax return, including the volume of the information you provide to us.
2) Any need for tax research related to your return.
3) How you organize and provide your records to us.
4) The time spent following up on your tax return; and numerous other factors involved in preparing your return.
However, there are many ways you can control the cost of preparing your tax return.
1) Read and follow any directions we give to you in providing your tax records as well as filing your tax return. In the time pressed world of today, many of us glance through the instructions provided to us. However, the time saved not reading instructions thoroughly is usually lost with the need to re-request the same instruction or require excessive follow up.
2) As much as is reasonable, provide us with complete tax documents all at once. We understand that some documents may arrive later in the tax season, making it difficult to provide all tax documents at once. However, the fewer interactions needed to collect and provide your tax documents, the less administrative tracking needed to mitigate any confusion on what tax documents we have and what is still required to complete the return. Providing tax documents in a piecemeal manner can easily double or triple the amount of work needed to complete your tax return.
3) Provide us with copies of your tax documents. If we have copies of your tax documents, we can scan them and then shred them at our discretion. This allows us to protect your tax information from unnecessary disclosure. However, holding originals would require securing them and making arrangements for pickup or delivery to you.
4) Provide a reasonable amount of time to prepare your return. Bring tax documents early in the year and being proactive with third parties, such as mortgage brokers, who may need a copy of your return helps get your return completed in a more cost-effective manner. However, waiting until the last month before the filing deadline naturally creates a time crunch in getting tax returns completed timely. Additionally, requests for us to rush and prepare a return to meet a loan refinancing deadline or college funding deadline also adds time and cost to preparing a return.
5) Make completing your tax return a priority. In many cases, there will be additionally follow up requests as we prepare the return. The longer you wait to respond to these additional requests, the more time we need to take to re-familiarize ourselves with your tax return once we get responses. Similarly, once we have completed your tax return, it helps tremendously to review it and provide any signatures needed as soon as possible to file your return.
6) Work with administrative staff as much as possible. Working with our administrative staff allows us to stay focused on the more technical services. Scheduling appointments, dropping off documents, paying outstanding invoices, and various other administrative tasks are much better managed by them.
7) Communicate in detail with us. We try to prioritize clients’ needs as much as possible. This typically requires specific information regarding your inquiry, such as:
a. Your full name.
b. A contact phone number.
c. A contact email.
d. A brief message regarding your inquiry.
This allows us to review your file, perform any preliminary research needed, prepare a response via email or phone, or delegate the inquiry to administrative staff.
8) Pay your invoice timely. Many times, clients are rushed to sign the appropriate documents to authorize us to file the return and fail to make payment associated with the preparation of the return. No return or returns will be filed until we have ALL required signature forms returned to us and full payment has been received.
9) Other Additional Costs to Consider
a. Working with third parties to explain your tax return, such as mortgage brokers, college funding offices, etc.
b. Providing copies of your tax returns and other records that you already have in your possession and/or are on the Client Portal.
c. If you file an extension and need an estimate on what to pay with the extension, additional tax calculations and efforts are needed to provide that.
d. Providing any special calculations for estimate payments in the coming tax year.
e. Revisions of tax returns once the return has been provided to you.
f. Amended returns due to client error.
g. Responding to and/or resolving IRS notices due to client or IRS errors.
10) Other Services. We provide many other services beyond income tax preparation. Each service is uniquely priced based upon your specific needs and what services we will need to provide for you. We will inform you of the specific cost for each service based upon what you require at that time!