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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Taxes & Financial Planning > Tax Returns

Tax Returns Cost


How Much Do Tax Returns Cost?

 
low costLow: Free, $20-$90average costMedium: $90-$130+high costHigh: $200-$400+
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  Typical costs:
  • If your income is less than $50,000, you may qualify for Free File[1] , a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, which should let you e-file your taxes for free.
  • Software, such as Intuit's TurboTax, typically costs between $20-$90, depending on the complexity of your returns and whether you need to complete a state return. During the past two years, retail discounts during February and March have been common. An online version, Web TurboTax, is also available.
  • Tax preparation fees at retail outlets such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt can run $90-$130, but Refund Anticipation Loan fees, electronic filing fees, and check cashing fees can triple the amount. In March, 2006, the New York Attorney General sued H&R Block for its business practices.
  • A part-time tax-preparer who operates out of a home may charge around $100 for a relatively simple return.
  • A professional CPA operating out of an office might charge $200-$400 for a relatively straightforward return, depending on the complexity of the return, the local cost of living, and the size of the office. More complicated returns - with significant stock transactions, real estate, and other deductions and earnings - may cost over $500.
  • A relatively straightforward return might include typical job-related deductions, interests and donations, mortgage deductions, and a few straightforward stock transactions.
Related articles: Financial Planner, Stock Broker, IRA, Mutual Fund

What should be included:
  • No matter which you choose, you should receive a copy of your tax return with clear instructions of where to send them to, how much you need to pay (or how much you will be refunded), and how to complete the forms. You should also receive a copy of your tax forms for your personal records, as well as more detailed worksheets, if applicable.
  • Some higher-end accountants will provide you with addressed, stamped envelopes; others will give you only instructions.
Additional costs:
  • At a CPA, more complicated returns with unique situations requiring hours of additional work, or close work by a partner (versus an associate) can make a return costly.
Discounts:
  • Generally, you can find better retail bargains or have an easier time negotiating with an accountant if you start early - in January or early February.
Shopping for tax returns:
  • TurboTax for the Web[2] is available online.
  • You can find local branch offices for H&R Block[3] and Jackson Hewitt online.
  • If you're looking for a tax prepare or CPA, referrals are a great place to start; ask friends and co-workers.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
K-1s
Amount: $200.00
Posted by: DianeB in Jackson, MI.Posted: April 10th, 2013 09:04AM
Type of Firm: RTRPComplexity of Return: Very
I am a self-employed tax practitioner, in business for over 20 years. I just finished a return with two K-1's, one with a complex publicly traded partnership, including a sale of a partnership interest. I prepare an Excel spreadshet of his partnership interests to keep track of suspended losses and basis in his investment. This client also has numerous other investments and a rental property. I have always charged him less than $200, but I have about 12 hours into his return this year. I know he is going to freak out when he sees my bill is $200 this year, which includes a Michigan return. As he is a friend of a friend, I am uncomfortable charging him anything more, but I am surely not making much compared to being able to do about 10 $100 returns in the same number of hours. He brings his stuff to me still in the envelopes and his rental information scrawled on a piece of paper.
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Overcharged & Audited
Amount: $407.00
Posted by: Marty S. in Shrewsbury, MA.Posted: April 9th, 2013 12:04PM
Type of Firm: HR BlockComplexity of Return: Simple, P/T single income
This place is a complete scam. Overpriced and has led to a Audit.
So after doing taxes for 23 years and never having an issue... I was charged 400 to get a BS audit.
I assure you that HR Block in Shrewsbury Mass is a complete scam. This is more then 23% of my total refund,
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Damn K-1 form!
Amount: $598.00
Posted by: Megs in Columbus, OH.Posted: March 22nd, 2013 03:03AM
Type of Firm: CPA-H&R BlockComplexity of Return: Moderate
I file self-employed so I go to accountant for deductions, plus I have a k-1 to file. I've gone to same accountant for 3 years and usually paid $350.00, however this year I paid close to $600!!! I told her I would not be returning. I'm a poor social worker for god's sake lucky enough to make $30000 a year. I feel so guilty now for not filing my own taxes. I was told H&R block is affordable, but not this accountant! A tough lesson learned here: always do it yourself for free!
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Wide range of prices, from free to $$$$
Amount: $225.00
Posted by: Frank Hagan in Ventura, CA.Posted: February 1st, 2013 03:02PM
Type of Firm: IndependentComplexity of Return: Moderate
Prices range from the IRS free file option to $800 or more for complex returns. Before I started doing tax returns, I paid around $225 for mine; I found independent preparers were better than HRBlock or Liberty for me. Now that I prepare taxes for my business clients at http://acumentaxservice.com I understand why prices will vary so much.
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My CPA keeps raising her fees every year from $250 3yrs. ago to $400
Amount: $400.00
Posted by: Maldeets in San Jose, CA.Posted: January 31st, 2013 10:01AM
Type of Firm: CPAComplexity of Return: moderate
Is $400 a reasonable amount to pay a CPA? My husband has a Business and a separate (CPA), so when we file it's our Household w/ children/Property/K1.
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Juast finished beginner training
Amount: $350.00
Posted by: Cindy Nelson in DALLAS, TX.Posted: January 5th, 2013 01:01PM
Type of Firm: LibertyComplexity of Return: moderate
I only paid a cpa ONCE and that was because of a death in the family lots of bank and stock and property accounts to cloae etc. I would NOT recommend Liberty -- they bill a basic married filing jointly, each has a single w-2 no investments nothing else, that would be $160.00 Sorry, INSANE. NO. NO. NO,
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3 hours of tax consultant fee
Amount: $350.00
Posted by: a user in dallas, TX.Posted: December 6th, 2012 07:12PM
Type of Firm: 2 person tax consultantComplexity of Return: corp LLC
Is 3 to 4 hour of tax consulting worth $350.
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CPA Gross Overcharge in Carson City, Nevada
Amount: $9,715.00
Posted by: Conrad R. Eierman in Carson City, NV.Posted: August 8th, 2012 10:08AM
Type of Firm: CPAComplexity of Return: Semi-Complex
1040 for 2009 including election to carryback NOL, Sched. C Business Income & Expense, Form 8829-Home Office & Schedule A = $1,300.00
Prep of form 1040X for 2008 & 2009 = $2,810.00
Prep of form 1045 for 2005 &2006 = $1,250.00
Total of $5,360.00. Please comment on this CPA's Charges. He had also done our 1065 for
26 days in 2008 and year 2009 and charged $3,700.00 + $655.00 for 2 calls to the IRS a grand total of $9,715.00
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Location Location Location
Amount: $95.00
Posted by: Jared E in Hillsboro, OR.Posted: April 4th, 2012 12:04PM
Type of Firm: EA PartnershipComplexity of Return: varying
People seem to forget that different states require different fees, and different stock accounts require different amounts of time. Oregon, for example, has one of the most complicated state income tax regulations, and requires special state licensing, as well as testing and continuing education, for anyone who assists in the preparation of taxes (even the receptionist if they scan papers), while Texas has no individual income tax liability at all. Clearly the state which requires significantly more expenses for tax prepares is going to cost more.rnrnAlso, some stock accounts allow direct import, which drastically reduces the time and effort on the tax prep side, but others do not, and each individual stock sale must be reported individually. If you buy 100 shares of a stock and sell them off one at a time, there are 100 separate entries! rnrnAnd finally a CPA and a Tax Preparer, are not the same thing. That's like comparing a meter maid to a public notary, totally different worlds.
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Depends on the complexity of the return
Amount: $135.00
Posted by: David Andrews, CPA in Phoenix, AZ.Posted: March 12th, 2012 09:03PM
Type of Firm: cpaComplexity of Return: simple to complex
for most simple 1040 (w-2, interest, dividends, and itemized deductions I would charge about 150. I am just starting my own practice and working out of my home (the contractor getting the office ready has had some problems), I have been a CPA working in tax departments of national firms for 25 years. I think the most I billed for a 1040 while working in large firms was $20,000. I just quoted $1000 to someone with many rental properties and some self employed businesses. I also pointed out $800 in missed tax savings that his prior preparer (who charged 1,200. with the $800 missed that means his return cost him 2,000) had overlooked on the 2010 return. CPA, Never underestimate the value
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3 Yrs IRS/State Returns
Amount: $600.00
Posted by: Katsgreenseas in S-pringfield, MA.Posted: October 2nd, 2011 07:10PM
Type of Firm: Liberty TxsComplexity of Return: In Depth
I had to get Liberty Tx to do 3 yrs of Income Tax Returns which included Schedules for early w/draw from IRA's - Schedules A/B - Profit Loss - etc... plus State Returns due to having been hospitalized when all returns were due. The Tax Preparer was very knowledgeable - had to make sure all documents validated and backed up the figures because we were filing Admended Returns (the IRS & State had prepared my returns for me).
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simple tax return 1040 and Franchise Tax board
Amount: $155.00
Posted by: Audrey in san pedro, CA.Posted: March 27th, 2011 02:03PM
Type of Firm: capComplexity of Return: simple
I think this was too much for a simple return. Next year, I will do it myself.
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Tax Prep
Amount: $49.00
Posted by: JSC in Peoria, IL.Posted: March 24th, 2011 08:03AM
Type of Firm: Retail Tax OutletComplexity of Return: EZ to Complex
If you paid $340 for a standard return, you likely are including the fees for a loan or 'instant money'. (I noticed that was posted last year when 'instant money' was available) H&R Block requires all Tax Pros to go through 69 hours of classroom before ever sitting down with a client. They also require 24 hours of continuing education per year.
At our local H&R Block, you can get a 1040EZ for FREE and the state of IL for $49. Fees are based on the complexity, average is probably $129 to 250.
This year they are doing FREE 2nd looks and have found errors in 4 out of 5 returns prepared elsewhere.
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Tax Preparation Costs
Amount: $275.00
Posted by: Michael V in Redondo Beach, CA.Posted: January 31st, 2011 12:01PM
Type of Firm: Enrolled AgentComplexity of Return: Complex
Thsi firm prepared my complex return including a rental property and home mortgage for $275.00. Very Professional. Redondo Beach, Ca. Beach Cities Income Tax 310.540.3850
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Tax Preparation Costs
Amount: $180.00
Posted by: Marshall Consulting Services LLC in Riverdale, GA.Posted: January 10th, 2011 04:01PM
Type of Firm: SmallComplexity of Return: Simple to Complex
My small accounting firm has always charged reasonable rates. When my business was home-based, I charged from $75-$100 for an e-filed individual tax return. Now that I have been in an office outside of my home for the past three years, I charge slightly more, 890-$180, plus $20 e-file, corps (C & S) $540 + $45/hr if more than 3 hours to prepare and if forensic accounting is involved.
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Tax Preparation Costs
Amount: $100.00
Posted by: In Your Business, LLC in Atlanta, GA.Posted: January 6th, 2011 09:01AM
Type of Firm: Sole Proprietor/Home OfficeComplexity of Return: Simple to Complex
I am a business major and I prepare all level of returns. My fees are based on the complexity of each return and whether or not the client has understanding of what their role is as a taxpayer. Whether or not I have to act as a third-party (unlicensed) with regard to their return and the current state of their taxes. The base fee is for low income & a basic 1040A. The prices increase based on necessary Schedules, the clients organization of information and input. FYI most state do not require a license to prepare, and if the person or company you choose is unlicensed they cannot represent you in the event of an audit.
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mistake on return address to IRS
Amount: $28,000.00
Posted by: Sandy Maloney in Edina, MS.Posted: November 21st, 2010 03:11PM
Type of Firm: Foreign CorpComplexity of Return:
I would like to know if I can take my accountant to court because they sent the wrong address to the IRS? for my tax return
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Tax return preparation fee
Amount: $825.00
Posted by: joank2 in Denver, CO.Posted: April 11th, 2010 04:04PM
Type of Firm: PartnershipComplexity of Return: Includes Rental Property
Not sure if I am paying too much, I did receive a sizeable return.
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Standard Tax Return (Low Income)
Amount: $340.00
Posted by: Samanthagirl in Salem, MA.Posted: April 1st, 2010 09:04AM
Type of Firm: Liberty Tax ServiceComplexity of Return: simple
I paid $340.00 for a standard tax return, (earned income credit, Head of Household) and that is with a $100.00 discount!!!
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Tax Prep Cost
Amount: $65.00
Posted by: Tonya Willis in Covington, GA.Posted: March 8th, 2010 01:03PM
Type of Firm: Sole Proprietor/Home basedComplexity of Return: Various
I am a Tax Preparer who prepares retuns in addition to having a full time job. I charge a flat rate for basic returns. $125 for most clients and $65 for low income filers. This includes Sch A, B, D, EIC, Childcare and one state is included. I charge $50 extra (per rental or business) for Sch E & C. Generally the cost is $105 for most because I give out $20 coupons in the beginning of the year.
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Tax return preparation fee
Amount: $50.00
Posted by: Edward D Iannielli III in Levittown, NY.Posted: March 7th, 2010 04:03PM
Type of Firm: Sole proprietor-CPAComplexity of Return: mid range
I am a CPA who prepares returns in addition to having a full time job. I charge based on complexity of return. Generally a straight forward return with Sch A, B and D and one state I will charge $125. If the return is less complec that that with no Sch A/D I will charge $75. If return has more complexity with a Sch C/E and pass through k-1s I will charge anywhere from $150-$300 depending on the amount of time necessary to complete the return and if research is necessary. I generally don't charge for a child's return.
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H+R block vs an accountant
Amount: $110.00
Posted by: myaccountantkurtis@yahoo.com in Woodstock, IL.Posted: January 31st, 2010 04:01PM
Type of Firm: My Accountant IncComplexity of Return: medium
Im am a self employed tax accountant in Illinois NW of Chicago, I find HnR block customers actually pay higher than a lot of smaller firms, and the error rate is very high, seems like hnr block has become a loan company My Accountant Inc, Woodstock, IL 815,219,0551 Kurtis
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Hints & Suggestions
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: jkyoung1013 in West Palm Beach, FL.Posted: January 8th, 2010 06:01PM
Type of Firm: Self PreparedComplexity of Return: Various
From an accountant and a self-employed tax preparer - First, do not, I repeat, do not let someone charge you more just because you got a larger refund. Getting a refund is the same as giving a cashier $20 for an item that costs $5. You get back $15 change. A refund on your tax return is simply the IRS giving you change for your overpayments.
Second - Do not let anyone prepare your return who cannot give you a quote or at least a ballpark price, and will stand behind that price. If you have any questions you can e-mail me at john_young_jr@yahoo.com and I will be happy to answer any questions I am able to.
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NJ Federal and State Tax Return Cost
Amount: $120.00
Posted by: Mr. Jennings CPA in Carlstadt, NJ.Posted: March 21st, 2009 12:03PM
Type of Firm: H + R Block Proprietor Tax PreparerComplexity of Return: Medium
H&R Block Charges Differ Between the amount of the return, for instance if your AGI is less than the Federal taxable income of 2008, which is currently $5,450 than the charges will be less usually between $80-$100. These charges are less because the amount of the return will be less, usually between $200-$300. For an average return of the AGI over the Federal taxable income, will cost slightly more between $120-$160. The boost in price is relative to the boost in the return usually ranging from $600-$1,100. The larger the return the larger the fees.
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Individual Tax Returns
Amount: $95.00
Posted by: JN in Arvin, CA.Posted: February 19th, 2009 03:02PM
Type of Firm: Sole Proprietor Tax PreparerComplexity of Return: Middle
Tax preparer E-filed and prepared my 1040 return. This included itemizing, Sch. E, and installment sale reporting. Preparer is Joe Navarro (661)340-4873.
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tax cost
Amount: $250.00
Posted by: TAX RETURN in kansas city, MO.Posted: November 20th, 2008 01:11PM
Type of Firm: small tax firmComplexity of Return: MEDIUM
H&R BLOCK IS THE WORST PLACE TO HAVE YOUR TAXES DONE UNLESS YOU ARE JUST FILING A EZ1040 FORM. WHICH MOST PEOPLE CAN DO THEMSELVES. IF YOU FILE MORE FORMS THAN THAT--EVEN THOUGH YOU THINK ITS STRAIGHTFORWARD--LOOK IN THE IRS CODE BOOK THAT THE GOVERMENT CHANGES EVERY YR. H&R BLOCK EMPLOYEES ARE BASIC EDUCATED. PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS AND CPA'S ARE NOT YOUR BASIC EMPLOYEE. I SUGGEST YOU TAKE YOUR RETURN TO A REAL ACCOUNTANT TO REVIEW OVER YOUR RETURN FOR MISTAKES SINCE YOU HAVE RENTAL PROPERTY. H&R BLOCK COULD BE COSTING YOU MONEY AND YOU WOULD NOT EVEN KNOW IT. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. YOU WILL GET THE BEST SERVICE AT A SMALL FIRM. MAY COST ALITTLE MORE, BUT YOU WON'T BE JUST ANOTHER TAX RETURN FOR A EMPLOYEE TO DO THAT DOESN'T CARE. 300.00 ISNT BAD AT ALL--COST OF LIVING IS HIGHER IN CA--PLUS THEIR STATE RETURN IS MORE COMPLEX THAN ANY OTHER STATE RETURN EXCEPT MAYBE NEW YORK. IF I HAD RENTAL PROPERTY, STOCK SALES, BUSINESS EXPENSES, MY PRICE WOULD BE MORE IN THE 300 plus range- a good accountant will make time to study all options for you--which are many and believe me the government makes it hard for the normal person to know what they all are.
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Tax return
Amount: $220.00
Posted by: DS.pa in Lancaster, PA.Posted: September 5th, 2008 02:09PM
Type of Firm: TaxComplexity of Return: Low
$300. sounds way too much for a simple tax return. The additional reporting for stocks and dividends is minimal. We spent less than $250 for filing 2 sets of returns for NJ and PA; we have stocks and rental property. This was with H&R Block. CPAs tend to be more pricey.
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$300 for a medium complexity return - fair price?
Amount: $300.00
Posted by: a user in Mountain View, CA.Posted: February 16th, 2007 01:02PM
Type of Firm: small CPAComplexity of Return: homeowner, some stock
My CPA charges me $300 a year for my returns. I own some stock, have a fair number of work-related deductions, and have mortgage deductions. My accountant is a referral from a friend who works in a 2 person small office. I used to use a CPA in a fancy 10 person office in an expensive part of town, and they charged $475, and the results didn't seem any better (in fact, they complained a lot more and their admin kept losing my address).
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External Resources:
  1.  www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free
  2.  turbotax.intuit.com/
  3.  www.hrblock.com/universal/office_locator.html?WT.svl=4
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