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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.
  • 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

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tax return
Amount: $950.00
Posted by: Mollie in Falmouth, MA.Posted: June 20th, 2017 09:06AM
Type of Firm: cpa/ wealth managementComplexity of Return: semi complex
I paid 950.00 for the state and federal filing and then had to do an amendment, on 1 interest income acct that I found, and that cost me another 900.00. I will never go to a wealth management firm again. He also wanted to become my financial advisor, I don't think so! I would never go with this guy. Watch out for these types of firms.
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Cost of Tax prep
Amount: $275.00
Posted by: CLFrangis in Bellefontaine, OH.Posted: March 30th, 2015 01:03PM
Type of Firm: H & R BlockComplexity of Return: three W2's two adults w/2 dependents
Had been to H&R about 5 years ago. Don't remember the fees being so high. I about choked when my husband told me the fees. I have been doing our taxes and others in my family for several years, but because my identity was hacked and someone fraudulently filed my Federal and State taxes earlier this year, my husband thought it be best if we went to H&R. BIG MISTAKE. We were going to owe IRS the first time she figured it, and then I asked if she added in our Child Care expenses, and she had not, so she re-figured it, now the IRS owes us, but then she forgot our Charitable deductions...I think this is why we didn't go back before. I will be doing our own from now on...
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over $400 and did not breathe a word until it was completed
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: KC12345 in new york, NY.Posted: March 30th, 2015 06:03AM
Type of Firm: H&R BlockComplexity of Return: Moderate
Huge rip-off! Thought this would be a great option, but over $400 and an hour later, what happened??
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Tax Prep
Amount: $658.00
Posted by: Bummed out:( in NORTH ANDOVER, MA.Posted: March 17th, 2015 06:03AM
Type of Firm: H & R BlockComplexity of Return: homeowner /out of state worker
Ripped off
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Most commercial tax firms are very expensive
Amount: $1.00
Posted by: AIS Tax and Financial,LLC. in Port Charlotte, FL.Posted: March 13th, 2015 01:03PM
Type of Firm: IndependentComplexity of Return: comples
Most commercial firms (HR, Liberty, Jackson) are charging around $350. We prepare for about 1/2 of their charges. S-Corps, Partnerships, C-Corps are around $350 where others want around $800. 1040 with Rental, sole-proprietor are around $220-260, others want over $400. Those are the fees we are seeing when we take in new clients.
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Simple return
Amount: $60.00
Posted by: Tax preparer in IL in Small town central, IL.Posted: February 4th, 2015 07:02AM
Type of Firm: CPAComplexity of Return: 1040EZ or 1040A + IL
Granted, I work in a small rural community. However, we charge around $55-70 for a very basic return. If you don't have to file extra forms, you should be able to pay some to prepare and file your taxes for well under $100. A 1040 and IL starts at $85 and go up from there based on how many forms are needed.
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H & R Block
Amount: $700.00
Posted by: Cherryl in Southampton, NY.Posted: January 28th, 2015 05:01AM
Type of Firm: Complexity of Return: sole proprietor small business
I had no idea I was being ripped off!!!
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Tax preparation costs
Amount: $525.00
Posted by: Pismo Beach in santa maria, CA.Posted: October 13th, 2014 09:10AM
Type of Firm: H & R BlockComplexity of Return: homeowner,
H & R Block was going to charge me 625 for my return. I have been going there for about 5 years so they discounted to 525. Usually I pay 400, which I thought was too expensive. I bought a house last year, have a child in college and an extra part time job. I don't have rental properties or stocks. I think I will go somewhere else next year. I originally went there thinking it would be cheaper..I don't think my tax preparer is a CPA. She does have a lot of experience, but I think that is too much to pay.
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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 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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