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Discussion:Tax Return Fees

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Briggs (talk|edits) said:

7 August 2006
I am a CPA and have worked out of my home for 9 years. I will be doing some new S Corporation tax returns for 2006 and have not updated my pricing in a while. I was wondering if I could compare notes with other CPAs. I have been charging a minimum of $500 for an 1120S (with the MI SBT when required) if the books are in good order. Is this in the general proximity of what others are charging?Briggs 15:34, 7 August 2006 (CDT)

Taxfun (talk|edits) said:

7 August 2006
Of course, fees vary as to the area of the country and other factors. Our standard varies from $700/900 depending upon forms required. This assumes good accounting.

Briggs (talk|edits) said:

8 August 2006
Thanks for the input. I had a feeling my prices might be a little too low.Briggs 20:26, 7 August 2006 (CDT)

TaxAssistCPA (talk|edits) said:

8 August 2006
I am an Atlanta, GA CPA and I charge a flat $600 fee for corporate tax returns plus hourly fee for any significant tax accounting required.

Gosix (talk|edits) said:

9 August 2006
I charge $1000 for 1120S and then $200 per any normal individual 1040 returns related to the 1120S. Includes write-up and quarterly payroll forms. S corps have maybe $100,000 in sales on average, less than 3 employees. Good easily followed raw records, receipts, bank stmts, but not in accounting form. Service type businesses. (Pool cleaning, fence installer, financial consultant) Located in NC

JEllegate (talk|edits) said:

10 August 2006
My wife and I (both CPA's) work out of our home as well (in Western New York); we don't have a set minimum, instead we try to bill at least $100/hr for whatever we're doing (fees are rough...our area is not an economic mecca!). We've found that even the most routine small business tax returns that we've been preparing for years (corps/partnerships and so forth) with decent record keeping take at least three or four hours to complete. You figure that you have to touch base with the client, review their information for reasonableness, half the time there's at least one phone call to track down something or clarify some of the information, then input the return, review the return, rerun the return for the typo you made (or the address change you didn't notice...yada, yada), process the return, bill it...all takes time and we've done this for twenty plus years (it doesn't get any easier). So, I'd say that your minimum makes sense to us based upon our experience and rates that we minimally want to receive.

Kevban (talk|edits) said:

11 August 2006
We like to charge between $800 to $1000 for a standard clean 1120S. Anything that requires more of our time we charge a flexible hourly rate, between $165 to $225, depending on the client. Sometimes we get a client just starting business (or has a down year) and cash flow as well as income is lower. If the return is somewhat simplistic we will invoice the minimum fee and discount the total bill. We still attain our standard minimum hourly rate. This way the client sees the higher value of our services and appreciates the discount. It appears that this has worked well for client relations and we do not have any issues when the invoice is later increased.

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

9 September 2006
Durn - I knew I was too cheap! Unfortunately don't think my clients would take to fees doubling or tripling. I am going to start a 10% annual increase though! Any non-CPA's in Florida - what do you charge?

DZCPA (talk|edits) said:

9 September 2006
$500 min for Corps

LJACPA (talk|edits) said:

9 September 2006
There have been a number of discussions regarding different aspects of CPA vs. EA vs. accountant, etc. I cannot tell on some of these posts what the writer is and wonder if there is a significant difference in fees depending which category you fit in. I know I am too low and end up doing lots more work than I'd need to do if I billed more. I just can't seem to say no, but I'm learning. Would you mind me asking, Gosix, are you a CPA and where in NC (I'm in Asheville)? Your fees are sooooo much higher than mine!

Gosix (talk|edits) said:

9 September 2006
No I am not a CPA. I do have a BSBA in Accounting degree since 1984. Located in Huntersville, near Charlotte. I workout of my house and/or go where I'm needed.

Most of my clients run service type businesses. Lawn care, pool cleaning (nice business by the way), home repair, etc.

I usually charge them $100 or so less than their previous CPA was charging. They usually are leaving their previous CPA because he/she prepares the return and then becomes inaccessible for the rest of the year. I'll answer their questions and help them through out the year within reason. Their CPA wouldn't without another billing, even if it was to clarify a what-if 10 minute phone call.

I try to limit the number of personal returns I do and concentrate on only those personal returns which bring a business return with them.

What would you charge for a 5 employee, one owner, $500k in Sales, Average sales invoice of maybe $100, service business, C Corp? Whose accounting records consist of a.) bank statement with check copies photoed on the back, b.) business credit card with statement used for all other expenses, c.) Payroll amounts per ADP, d.)No liabilities, e.)Less than 5 new assets to depreciate, f.)has no need for fancy financial stmts, g.) does not use Quickbooks or any other accting program. I have to key the data in and summarize myself. Prior CPA was charging $3000 for the Tax Return and some very overly fancy financial statements. No payroll, all done by client thru ADP. Cash basis.

(This particular CPA has now lost his 5th client to me, all thru referals from my very first client. I hear the 'old' partner retired and these clients all got shifted to a 'new' partner who bought his way in.)

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
$3,000!!! That would break almost all my clients!

Gosix (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
I would think the $3000 is excessive as well.

So far my review of prior CPA's work looks like about 700 line items to the entire general ledger that would need to be generated. 12 pages total print out. Not doing any invoice breakdown or deposit breakdown. Just used bulk semi-weekly deposits. Checking register looks to be 500ish items long. Transaction listing takes 8 pages. No inventory to track. Has some donations and officer loans that might need to be thought thru. 5 employees. Wants a specifc method to be established and detailed for paying profitability bonuses to employees. Banks Stmts have all check photo copied on the back. Client made use of the "For" line.

CPA was paid $3,075 per the prior year breakdown of "Accounting and Legal". ADP was paid $1,661 per prior year "Payroll Processing". ADP filed all payroll forms and mailed checks to employees. Full service.

(This client also paid $400 for his personal return, and $1000 for another S Corp he owns to the same CPA)


So what would you guys charge?

DZCPA (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
I suggest client to do their own bookkeeping that way I only do tax return. If books are needed, I quote about $100 to $200 a month to do financial statements and then an additional $500 to $1000 for tax returns. AT $100 per month, I prepare a 12 moth YTD P&L. Do not waste yor time on lower level work. Have a staff do bookkeeping. Delegate, delegate, delegate==== $$$$$.

Gosix (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
I've suggested 'do their own bookkeeping'. Client has no interest in doing anything beyond balancing the check book and paying the bills. Really doesn't even want to do that. Seems its more profitable for him to serve his clients.

And I can't delegate. 5 year olds don't key data in real well! (No staff) I'm not that big, nor do I want to be.

So DZCPA it looks like you would charge about the same $3000?

One thing that digging thru their raw records does is give you a better idea about their business operations. All kinds of opportunities there.

DZCPA (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
5 year olds are great at shredding documents!

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
I'm a non-CPA in the Tampa area. I usually look at how many transactions they do a month (remember to check for debit and credit card entries) and then estimate monthly bookkeeping at around $2.00 per transaction (don't tell client how amount is determined). That's about what the market is running here. The tax returns appear to be where I'm leaving money on the table. Assuming that I do the book work during the year, last year I increased my Corp fees to $300 from $200. Assuming that the 1040 is fairly basic (kid credit, day care, K-1, home mortgage interest), I'd probably charge $100-$150. I agree with Gosix that digging through raw records is great for opportunities.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
BL, you don't mention the State returns, so are they part of this price? In fact no one said anything. I know there is no individual return in FL, and I recall I filed an S Corp in year one for a client, but never again and still file his 1120S. So could this be a reason your fee sounds less than others. Believe me, the sheer paper in a PA RCT-101 and PA-20S is ridiculous, even if most of it is generated by the software. Ditto the NJ Corporate or S return.

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

10 September 2006
Thank goodness for Florida! ProSeries prints out the Florida corporate return and all you have to do is check the box telling it to do so. I do charge an extra $50 for that first year return. This year we're getting a lot of "nastygrams" from the state regarding s-corps where there was no Florida return filed after the first year. The state instructions say that you only have to file the first year. Now we're getting letters wanting returns on second year and older corps. Next tax season I'm going to do a state return for all my corps to stop those letters. There is a Florida intangible tax for individuals that own stocks and bonds outside retirement accounts but the state is phasing out that tax and it will soon be gone. That one takes a while because you have to list the value of each stock as of January 1 each year.

Abdulkhan (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
I am facinated by this discussion. I am a nonCPA, degreed accountant in the Dallas area. I provide bookkeeping and tax service to small businesses, <$500K sales. Using their bank and credit card statements, I do their financials and use them to do the annual tax returns. I also provide full payroll service (about 5 emp;oyees)and 1099's with all the necessary state and federal tax reporting. I charge a flat fee $200/mo. for all that.___________Am I too cheap?

Gosix / BottomLine, what are some of the examples of the opportunities in digging through the raw data?

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 11, 2006
I'm 500-600 usually, if I keep the books or they're ready to go without much other than depreciation, for a typical smaller biz. And what you are, CPA/non, is totally irrelevant. That is Chicago area...

Sea-tax (talk|edits) said:

11 September 2006
I am in the greater seattle area and am an EA I charge a by the form for business and personal returns. For businesses I run about 500-600 and for personal 250. Of course I have some that are more and some that are less. Also I add hourly rates of 150 to 200 if additional bookkeeping needs to be done . Most of my businesses though, my staff does monthly bookkeeping for so it is a little easier at year end.

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
Abdulkhan - Sounds like your client base and type of work are similar to mine. Your rates are similar too. I only do payroll if they have less than 4 employees (In FL if you have more than 4, you have to have workers comp which is a pain.) Examples of things found when digging through raw data are: 1) Clients like to post loans received as income instead of as a liability - overstates income, 2) Posting the entire loan payment against principal instead of interest and principal (They also don't understand that only the interest portion can be taken off their taxes, 3) You see a new loan payment and then discover that they purchased a new piece of equipment, 4)It's easier to collect address and tax ID on 1099 people during the year instead of waiting until January, 5) Paying high interest rates on credit cards (25%) and being so proud because they're receiving 5% on a CD that would pay off that credit card, 6) Only showing the credit card payment as an expense without showing the entire balance as a liability, 7) Co-mingling personal and business.

Gosix (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
8.) even more co-mingling, 9.) Retirement plan cross selling opportunities, 10.) operational efficiency ideas, 11.) where to find a better interest rate, 12.) Insurance coverage deficiencies, etc.

Lots of little places that can make you extra fees and/or get in the loop with Insurance agents and financial product sellers sending you back business in return.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
I would bet that once a year I find that a mortgage company has not paid the escrowed taxes. This happens especially when there are three taxes on a property: township, county and school, all paid at different dates. This is not the client's fault but they don't understand that they cannot have the deduction until the tax is paid.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
To put this in perspective, I paid $196.00 to an auto mechanic shop this AM to have brake and radiator fluids changed, and wiper blades put on my car (pretty minor stuff). I know it's simplistic to compare across industries, but... I personally start at 900.00 for corporate and partnership, 190 for personal (charges for extra scheds.), and 139.00 hour for non-litigation work. The LLC's (as partnerships) tend to be particularly troublesome, and I probably don't charge enough for that work. Georgia. P.S. I think I'm going to start putting copies of some of my car repair bills in my desk drawer for client "reality checks"!! Most clients don't think we have any overhead, we know better!!

TH (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
I no longer prepare taxes for a living...I moved into consulting with CPA's and tax preparers to assist them in adding investments (IRA's and retirement accounts) as an additional income stream.

However, back in 2002 I was charging at a minimum $1,000 for an S corporation. My clients were usually one-owner corps that provided me a trial balance at the end of the year from Quickbooks. I would make a adjusting entries and drop it into Pro-series.

For individual returns.. I would start out at $250. Usually my individual returns would range between $250 to $500.

Remember...this was almost 4 years ago......Charge more or give more advice to your clients to show them the value and knowlege as a professional you offer.

Cheaper is not always better or we would all be staying at the Motel 6 on vacation and the Marriott and Hilton hotels would all go under.

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
It is great to hear what others are charging; it is too bad that accountants, tax return preparers, etc. are not valued more. I agree that hey plumbers get minimum one hour service charge and they are at 100.00 an hour, but if I quote 100.00 an hour, people get all in arms that it is too much!! Go figure.

I spent this entire weekend at a new clients place of business in South Florida. I drove 5 hours round trip, had to stay overnight and worked 22 hours over Saturday and Sunday to get his books in order. He knew my fees; I told him before I even arrived, yet, because he is cash poor, he only gave me 500.00 for the entire weekend. I was infuriated but perhaps he will give me the rest he owes me when business picks up. His next question was when will you come back again???? Ummmm...what do I say to that? AND on top of it, he was hitting on me the entire time I was there.

That is another topic....how many of you have clients that "hit" on you, male or female?

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 12, 2006
You asking me out for a drink tonight Sandy, or hoping that I'll ask you? And before Sandy gets me too tipsy, I should make a note to boost my 1120S/1065 fees. It's just that if the books are good (i.e. I did 'em...) the returns take 20-30 minutes...500-600 seems aggressive to me, and I like being aggressive!

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
HEHE JR; now that you asked :). It was uncomfortable for me a little; thought it was my imagination at first, but as the weekend progressed, it was clear....now I wasn't even paid...what is up with that picture?

Sea-tax (talk|edits) said:

12 September 2006
Sandysea I would hold off on all other work until you are paid in full or take a retainer up front.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 12, 2006
Or there's real romance brewing....

Snavetp (talk|edits) said:

13 September 2006
I am new to the forum but thus far have enjoyed the exchange. Having hung around the tax prep/consulting area for just shy of 30 years, I am sure I have never been hit on during an engagement, although a client did wave a wooden ruler at me in what I thought was a threatening manner once. But perhaps you are referring to another type of "hit on".

In terms of fees charged, we are all too cheap. This stuff is not for the faint of heart, and the liabilities may as well be limitless.

I had a client tell me recently that he could do a 1065 in 25 minutes, after he expressed disapproval of my fee quote. I nicely complimented his abilities and recommended that he should by all means put his considerable skills to work. A day later, I received the info to do the return. I did it, and it only took me a full 12 months to get paid. Guess why it took 12 months. Your are right, he needed another return prepared.

Bengoshi (talk|edits) said:

13 September 2006
JR, it might take you 20-30 minutes to do the return, but think of how much you had to study over the years to become that efficient. If the client tried to do it himself/herself, they'd probably take longer than the IRS time estimates and do it wrong at that. Plus you have to pay for the expensive tax prep software, which allows you to do the return in the 30 minutes.

haha...funny question Sandy. Maybe you should go to the site in grandma clothes and light makeup (unless the guy happens to be a Brad Pitt clone). I just starting working pretty recently, so I've never been "hit on." But for some reason a lot of the elderly clients really take to me. I think its because some of them think I'm still a high school student helping out.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

13 September 2006
I have three or four clients who delight in doing their returns using Turbo Tax and letting me review them, but in the past couple of years, I've heard more and more complaints from them as Turbo Tax dumbs down the preparation process with more and more questions. While I know I can convert their files to Proseries, I buy a copy of Turbo Tax every year so I can help them when they ask 'what am I doing wrong?' and I am finding it cumbersome to use. As someone who looks like a cross between a gargoyle and Frank N Stein, I am in little danger, but I do recall this 40-ish client with long blonde hair who would stroke it as I worked, all the while beaming at me and speaking in a coy manner. Her friends told me later she had a thing for married men, so it them made sense when she asked me to drop her return off on the way home one April 13th.....at 1 am in the morning. Lucky for me, I could only double park in front of her house.

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

13 September 2006
Well..interesting at best. NO ROMANCE JR...no way with this guy!! hehe. But when he asked me to call him by his nickname and wanted to take me to dinner so I could have a couple of Pina Colada's since he would be driving and he touched my arm repeatedly and told me how beautiful I was (yes, he wears glasses by the way...hehe), I thought; now maybe he is hitting on me?

I spoke with him today after 2 calls from him I returned his call. He is balking at my rates..he can't afford me...but he wants me to come back...so now....come up with something he can live with in the future, but the past was the rate I quoted him....

MENNNNN!!!! (present company excluded of course)

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 13, 2006
Let's see...call me by my nickname, let's go to dinner, have a couple drinks on me, I'll drive us, touching your arm over and over, oh, so beautiful you are....AND YOU FREAKIN' WONDER IF HE'S HITTING ON YOU??????

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy. What did your mom and dad fail to 'splain to you? Yes, he's hitting on you.... *grinning* I hope you're not that gullible with all your clients....!

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

13 September 2006
Ok...so I am gullible...that is why all my clients are pains in my ass. They don't pay; they can read me like a book I guess....thank you JR...you make me laugh out loud!!

Taxea@hawaii.rr.com (talk|edits) said:

13 September 2006
Thank you all for your comments! I too have been told that I am under-valuing my experience and expertise. New tax season, new fees!

And for the clients that have no clue as to accounting or recordkeeping their gift from me is the DOME Monthly Bookkeeping Record book with a note to provide it to me at the end of the year with the rest of their tax documents. Has worked wonders with those "box clients". I can actually "save them money" when they do their own bookkeeping rather than paying me to do it. taxeataxea 17:33, 13 September 2006 (CDT)

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

13 September 2006
We have to be told over and over taxea....somehow we accountants are perfectionists and we don't value ourselves enough (raises hand here). But I know that when you do value what you do because your rates are in line with others, then they don't question as much. Yes, some still do...but if they understand that they are getting the best because you believe in you....then it makes it easier to demand a higher payment due to your knowledge....

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

September 13, 2006
Sandy, I would definitely ask for a prepayment next time, if there is a next time, and of course AFTER he pays you for the first time. Five hours commuting! You should stick to your guns and be compensated for your time. Have you ever tried to do the work remotely? There are a lot of options these days -- VPN, GoToMyPC, PCAnywhere, Windows remote desktop. He'd save money on the fees and you'd save the hassle of the "hits."

BottomLine (talk|edits) said:

14 September 2006
Every engagement is different but remote wouldn't work for my standing weekly clients. They have paper documents that would fill up my fax machine. I have some clients that don't own a computer! Sandysea - sounds like your client really knows how to impress a woman! He makes her drive 5 hours, paws her all day, tries to get her drunk and then gets cheap! My kind of man!!

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

September 15, 2006
When I initially read this thread and Sandy's question above, I thought to myself, "Well I can't really think of any instances when I've been 'hit on' by clients." But today I was reminded of another situation that perhaps someone has a suggestion about how to handle.


A male business associate has been sending me all kinds of emails, some of them of a sexual nature. (There's no doubt in my mind that they constitute sexual harrassment.) The emails come in bunches of up to eight a day, and some of them are quite large -- 4 MB or so. My mail box is limited to 10 MB, so it fills up quite quickly if I get a bunch of these messages on a Sunday. I have set up a rule in Outlook to have all of these messages automatically go to my delete file, but they sit on the server for a day because I like to keep all of my messages on the server for 24 hours in case there's a problem with downloading or with my computer.


I have considered asking this man to stop sending me the emails, but he is in a position to refer clients to me. He is also a member of a business group that I belong to, so I don't want to "rock the boat" so to say.

Beengel (talk|edits) said:

September 15, 2006
I'd rock the boat. Either he is a naive idiot, or just plain not worth having as an associate.

If you work independently, I would email him back asking him to please stop sending the emails. You can use the mailbox storage as a crutch, but I'd also add that while you appreciate his business relationship, you do not appreciate those emails. If he continues, I'd end the relationship.

If you want to be less direct, perhaps you can set up a mailbox rule that sends back an email to him stating, this mail box does not accept large file emails, therefore, his email was automatically deleted or rejected.

If you work in a business envoronment, an HR person should be made aware of the harassment.

Bottom line for me would be that no dollars are worth the harassment. I'm not for sale, and neither should you be.

Mauro (talk|edits) said:

15 September 2006
Wow from how much to charge to prepare a Corp return to a different topic (but very real ). Anyway, coming from a mid side CPA Firm and knowing how much they used charge, when I went on my own I couldn't help to base my fees in the same principle factor. When before I was able to prepare a s-corp return for $ 300 doing it on the side while being manager at the firm , now is not enough to cover my expenses. And beleive me, even when I charge $ 750 up to $ 2400 for business return I still come cheap respect other Firms around my area ( NY & NYC Clients of course).

I try to get client that bring other types of service to our firm and just not a one time once a year visit. So I guess is all depends of what type of clients you are dealing with. We try to provide them with a package with different options and let them see what to choose and how much to save.

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

September 15, 2006
Beengel -- that's a great suggestion about the additional rule. I do have my own practice, so no HR person to deal with. I prefer the non-confrontational method in this particular instance. Thank you!

GrinnenTL (talk|edits) said:

6 March 2007
I am a accountant/tax preparer in Central Virginia. If no balance sheet is required, my minumum fee for the 1120S is $275. That is if I have done their bookkeeping all year. If I have to clean up their Quickbooks file (Pro-Advisor here) I charge a flat $95 an hour rate in addition to the tax prep fee. If I need to prepare a balance sheet it jumps to 395. Again assuming that I have done all the bookeeping for the year. Then I give a discount on the personal returns if I prepare them. New clients get charged for the initital set-up of assets etc.

However, the rates are going up next year as I haven't raised them in two years. Clients coming from NY love me b/c they were paying $1,000. But in NY that was a deal!

Stone0772 (talk|edits) said:

6 March 2007
In my area, I focus on real estate, construction and development returns. For S Corp, C Corp and LLCs, I usually get 650 to 1500, depending on depreciation schedule. Hourly work is usually billed at $250 per hour. I bundle returns with other offerings to achieve 3000 to 4000 billing per client.

I suggest packaging payroll, consulting, tax planning, and other services together.

Daniteel (talk|edits) said:

6 March 2007
$3000 for a C corp isn't that bad....I have seen much worse. I have a multistate corporation who performs work in 3 states his CPA was charging him $5500 a year and the books were in pretty good shape (I set him up on QuickBooks in the early 90s)....when I went into business for myself he gave me the books to handle and I was able to cut the price of the return in half. Maybe we are just more expensive in Virginia.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
Wow!! Maybe I should move to Virginia!

Gmikeg (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
$2500 for 1120S and 1040 with proerties, k-1s, A,B,D,E, and the equity was hell on the 1120S.

Wish I had 10 of these....

XZiler8r (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
I work for my sister here in Orlando FL by the FL mall. This is what our fees are:

1120(FL) - $300 / FL1120 $150 Payroll (depending on employees) about $50-100 monthly Accounting (bank/cc statemenets) - $100 1st year, and then my sister leaves it as is (no matter how much work has to be done :( ) 1040EZ - $45 1040A (EIC, CTC) - ~$95 1040 w/ Sch A - $130... and each major form about $20 more (C, E, etc) These are by mail btw... any direct deposit efiled flat $195. RAL's are flat $360 and PERC's flat $295.

Sometimes people FLIP by our fees, because they run to the guy down the road who works at his home and charges $50 for everything. We have an H&R Block in the same shopping center where we are, but actually that's helping us because most come to us at the end. We've only been here for 7 years and I 'plan' on opening my own location by the end of this year. I'm still going to school, trying to learn as much as I can.


BY raising our prices to a higher standard, would we still be making as much as we have been yearly? Those who have raised their prices, how much of a change in profits have you noticed, and # of cliental?

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
XZ....my stomping ground my entire life is Orlando....now in Vero...how is O-town these days? I think of it as "vacation" to even have a weekend to travel up there :)

XZiler8r (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
It's okay, very hectic with traffic but thats the norm here in FL :) I've been here since I was 7 1/2.. I'm 26 now (is it 26, I cant even remember! lol)

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
I used to tease my mother because whenever someone asked how old she was, she asked what year it was and then did the math. Now I understand why. I really don't feel like 47.

XZ - you were probably as stunned by the rates just above your post as I was. I'm in the Tampa area and the CPA's don't even charge those rates! You do seem a little low though. I've been raising my rates for the past 2-3 years because I was so much under the market. I've only lost a couple due to increasing rates and they came back the next year with their hat in their hands because they got what they paid for. It was no big deal to lose them anyway since the overall increase more than made up for the loss of 1-2.

Dsglouise (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
I started acct business 5 years ago. I charged my very first client $700 for s corp. Prior to this a CPA from NYC charged me for my 1040 $2700. He made me a huge return, and it scared hell out of me. When I asked him where he got the numbers for such a return, he said, that he was not a teacher, and he knows what he was doing, and it was none of my business to ask questions. I paid him, and redo my return myself. And from that time I never trust anybody with my personal return.

I thought that my charge was cheep. Later I realized, that there were too many accountants, and variety of different charges, based on … nothing. I also realized, that a client who knows nothing in accounting, is looking for better price, like at a flee market. Therefore I went down to $350 for corp return. Though I still keep some of my clients on higher rate, watching them every time when they pay me, trying to figure out if they started to shop around.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
Sounds like the NYC CPA took advantage of you.

Blrgcpa (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
I'm in NY. It depends on what's on the tax return.

Dsglouise (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
Oh, give me a break! There was nothing special. Just a regular family of four, with nether investments or business. It all depends on your capability to sell yourself. And the guy I was talking about is still in a business, and doing very well. How does he do that? It's simple. He has a very well known brother, a Russian favorite singer, and CPA certificate. I was one of the fans.

Nycyoga55 (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
I'm hoping this is the proper area to post this question. I've done informal tax prep for friends & small business clients for 20 years, with the understanding I won't be signing the return as a paid preparer. This year (I know, it's kind of late to be starting this), I'm attempting to do tax prep for strangers. I have a PTIN and a way to digitally sign, but I can't find anything anywhere on how to do this using my Turbo Tax software. Is there a way? If so, how? Am I in the right forum? If not, where should I post instead? Thanks!

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
I figured something like that. Fortunately you're part of the Russian community too. You could go head-to-head in competition with him (assuming you're still in the area) and force him to stop taking advantage of people. That's scummy to take advantage of the unknowing. Unfortunately see it every day. (example 800% APR for RAL's!)

Sw (talk|edits) said:

March 9, 2007
You can't sign a return with turbo tax. It's self prepared only.

Dsglouise (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
Nycyoga55, You are probably using Turbo Tax for individuals, not for tax preparers. If you buy software for tax preparers that cost about $3K you'll have possibility to do that.

Bottom: That's what I'm trying to do, though I'm not cpa, and I need a lot of improvements to compete. That’s why I’m here, to have fun with you guys, and maybe learn something new.

XZiler8r (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
Bottom line: Weve been raiisng our prices for the past few years... HR block charges 9.99 for an EZ form next to us, but of course efiling the return jumps up to 90 bux because of 3 diff fees. If we keep raising, I know we'll start losing clients. People are always shopping around for that $20 in-home preparer. I'd HATE to see someone's reaction if we bill them $250 for a 1040 with sch e/c or something like that.

Nycyoga55 (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
Sw & Dsglouise:

Thanks for the info. I don't have $3K, but I know taxes. What software can you use???

Sandysea (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
You can use proseries or lacerte pay per return version. The software would cost less than 200.00 to purchase and then you pay a fee for each return you print or efile :)

Ex-IRS (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
YOU ARE WHAT YOU CHARGE

Pricing Strategies in the Accounting Market by Bay Street Group Research Project

Study results:

"KEY FINDINGS

-- 35% of firms set pricing based on costs, usually as a multiple of the cost of labor.

-- 27% set prices based on the client?s perceived value of the service.

-- 26% set prices based on competitive market conditions.

-- But most also say they consider all factors in setting prices

-- 60% of firms set prices to retain clients, 36% to maximize revenue; and 27% to maximize profit.

-- 75% of firms say their pricing strategy could be improved.

-- The firms most dissatisfied with their pricing strategy tend to rely on a cost-based strategy.

-- 60% of firms vary pricing by service line.

-- In first 100 responses, the overwhelming majority bill by the hour.

-- Based on verbatim answers, actual realized collections fall far short of wished-for billing rates"

Jokadah (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
It's kind of late in the season to be looking for software. After tax season a number of the software companies will send you demos copies. Play around with them and see which you like best. Personally, I use Lacerte, it is pricey but you can also pay per return.

RSRAGENCY (talk|edits) said:

9 March 2007
ProSeries is a bit pricey, but I've been using it for almost 15 years. I have been very happy with their service, too. I'm in NJ and I know I'm far below the average of costs. However, not being a CPA, I feel my prices are OK. I've only raised prices after my 10 year anniversary. And I gave fair notice that I would be charging more. The reactions I got were surprising.. Absolutely positive!! Next increase will be next year at 15 years. Increase was $25...next year will be another increase, what, I'm not sure, but for a minimum return, I charge around $100.. My most complicated returns are around $300. These include returns with Sch-C, and or Sch-E. Anyone coming in this year as a new client will pay $200. I had a client move to MD and had a DC return. I was not able to E-file his DC return, so I phoned H & R Block telling them that I had the return fully prepared and just needed it E-files, how much would that cost?! Ready.....$110.00 JUST TO E-FILE~~ I told them it was and 1040A...Can you believe it?? I realize they had to 'input' everything, but, come on!! $110.00!!

Outrageous. Oh, and families with children in school and part-time jobs, I don't even charge for the kids.

Sw (talk|edits) said:

March 9, 2007
You might try TAXACT is only cost $99.00 for the 1040. $12.95 for 1 state or $51.80 for all states. You paid by return to efile. You can probably get free copies from most all the company this summer to try out.

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