|Experience the TaxExtras result: Extra Quality ! . . . Extra Service ! . . . Extra Savings !
|Over 35 years of
that time, it’s still no substitute for a seasoned tax preparer; one that can
eliminate an alternative in a few seconds rather than wasting an hour
going down a software chosen path completing bogus fields that lead to
no tax benefit. Tax software won’t suggest various ways of handling a
given situation, or suggest strategies for reducing future tax burdens.
Tax software is generally not programmed for these and other factors.
One of the most popular packages, TurboTax®, is offered to professional preparers as a
product called ProSeries®. This writer has used the ProSeries® product for many years
and still encounters situations where the software has produced the wrong answer because
some box was not checked or some other field was not entered. If a CPA has to hunt for the
proper entry to get the return to compute what they know is the right answer, how often are
common taxpayer’s producing tax returns with wrong answers that they don’t know are
wrong? Most people have heard of the adage, "Garbage in, garbage out." Are you taking
the same deduction in more than one place because you've entered the figure in more than
one location? Is a number that shouldn't be taxable showing up as taxable because you've
failed to check the box that exempts it from being taxable? Many times, the software won't
tell you that you've entered it wrong because the way you entered it is O.K. in certain
situations; but not your situation. Just because your return gets processed by the IRS this
year or the last few years and doesn’t generate a tax notice, doesn’t mean you are doing
the return properly. The odds are with you. Only 1% of average personal returns are
audited; thus you could be preparing your return wrong the same way for 99 years before
they tell you that it’s prepared wrong. That’s not 1 return prepared wrong; that’s 99 wrong
returns (fortunately they’ll usually only get money from you for the last 3 years). As a
taxpayer, you are ultimately responsible for your filed tax return, regardless of whom or
what prepared it for you.
Jackson or Liberty? Most of the returns produced by these firms are
prepared by people who have a few hours of training (60 hours is still a
few) and are not accountants at all. The majority of their preparers have
other jobs and tax preparation is just another part-time job to occupy
winter hours. They do have some "tax professionals" (a point they
returns end up getting prepared. However, the normal taxpayer never has their return
prepared by these people. These companies primarily rely upon the software they use to
prepare the return, thus we’re back to the limitations of tax software previously discussed.
In addition, many people who have had their returns prepared by these firms don’t even
know what they were charged, because most of these firms refer to the taxpayer’s refund
net of the preparation charges when discussing the results. We’ve seen poor taxpayers
charged $300+ in preparation fees, rapid anticipation loan fees, electronic filing fees, peace
of mind guarantees, etc., etc. for returns that would be around $100 with us. In general, the
faster you want or need your tax refund, the more you’ll be paying these firms to prepare
your return. We strongly suggest you wait the normal 2 week period for receiving your
refund from the IRS. The “I want it now mentality” generally proves very costly when it
comes to tax preparation.
about your local accounting or CPA office? You will definitely
get personalized service and usually a properly prepared return,
but unfortunately, it almost always comes at a significant cost.
Most professional tax preparation (and these people really are
the professionals) is charged by the hour, and with charges ranging from $100 to $600 per
hour, it doesn’t take much time before your tax preparation fee is greater than any refund
you might receive. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” is many times not true,
especially if your preparer has not kept up with the forever changing tax laws. Spending
tons of money on tax preparation is often worn as a badge of prestige but, depending upon
your situation, it could be a sign of imprudence. You are probably getting your money’s
worth at the lower end of the range, but after about $250 per hour, you’re usually paying
more for ego than for ability. A couple with only itemized deductions and some investment
income who is paying $400 for tax preparation is most likely paying for a smile and a
handshake that is making a rich man richer. At that price, you should be treated like a VIP,
"Very Important Provider."
|What will it cost me?
|All prices include state returns,
electronic filing and are net of
any applicable discount. Also,
we prepare quite a few complex
returns which biases our average
fees to the upside. If your return
is not complex, your fee should
be less than the average.
|Pricing by Adjusted Gross
Income (AGI) classification
regardless of forms or
($63,503 was the average
AGI per prepared return)
|AGI Under $12,500
$12,501 to 40,000
$40,001 to $67,500
$67,501 to $125,000