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Old 04-18-2009, 06:17 AM   #21
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Until very recently, my wife worked with/for an experienced CPA who specializes in and handles personal and business taxes. She starts at $150/hr when the tax situation is fairly straightforward, but it goes up from there with complexity. Good luck, doesn't sound like much fun...

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Old 04-18-2009, 08:39 AM   #22
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We pay $350 for our CPA to do our fairly straightforward taxes. My husband does some consulting work and there is some extra effort involved. Want2 here's hoping you are pleasantly surprised by the cost!

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Old 04-18-2009, 09:06 AM   #23
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I pay about $450-$500 US for my tax man to do my Canadian taxes. He charges about the same for my US taxes. I have tried it myself and also another tax guy, but there are things that can trip me up bad and I want someone to represent me.

When I finally repatriate and my tax situation is less touchy I will do it myself, unless I have a business on the side (which is possible).

I used to do our kids' taxes myself, but now they do their own under supervision.
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Old 04-18-2009, 03:53 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
I may be finding myself in the middle of a hugely complicated tax mess, that I don't want to go into on the public board. I am in WAY, way, way over my head at this point and in the past I have always done my taxes myself.
Depending on your tax situation you may not need a CPA. If it is strictly a tax issue you may do better employing an "Enrolled Agent" to help you out.

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Old 04-18-2009, 04:08 PM   #25
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Most don't understand that a CPA does not necessarily guarantee that the person in front of you is able to do taxes.

H&R has tax preparers. They are trained just before the season. Since the pay is os low, most move on to real work.

Enrolled Agent is a newer ballgame. The IRS testing of ER's is pretty rigorous.

The fees being mentioned here are outrageous. For most individuals I've met, Fed and State can be done in 1-1.5 hours. Based on a rate of $100 per hour, an average should be $150.

Don't expect that if you pay a lot for your tax preparation that you'll get anything else for free. However, a lot of the plug-in work is done by $10 an hour help. Buyer beware.
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Old 04-18-2009, 04:10 PM   #26
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If I had a particular problem with taxes that required a CPA then I'd tell them that I want to use Turbo Tax for the general form and need specialized assistance for the particular form, situation, or line items that I needed from them. Of course, they then would not be signing off on your tax return but how much is that worth anyway?
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Old 04-18-2009, 06:54 PM   #27
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W2R, I am sorry you have landed in such a nest of anxiety. Who needs it, eh?

Our tax preparer provides a Fee Schedule for every form that is prepared, and charges $150/hour for consultations (unfortunately he likes to tell jokes and stories, which all gets charged at the same rate). He has given some wise advice over the years, which is one reason I'm a little leery of doing our own taxes. I imagine he'd sell us his advice even if he didn't do our return, but it could be a little awkward.

Our moderately complicated return costs ~$1,000-$1200, which reflects a steady increase of 5 to 10% year over year. We live in a high cost area, so I suspect this may be a reasonable fee for here but would be high for other parts of the U.S.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:37 AM   #28
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I actually had my taxes reviewed by a CPA last year for the first time in many years. My taxes were not all that complicated; but, I did have several things (foreign sourced income and the associated foreign tax credits, granted and exercised stock options, etc.) that I was afraid would raise eyebrows at the IRA. So, I wanted someone to double check my research/work/etc.

My approach was to work through the tax forms myself first. (I have used TaxAct for many years both because of the low cost; and, because I actually like the fact that it does not assume too much.) I took this approach for a couple or reasons:
1) This helped ensure that I would have all of the documents necessary for the CPA.
2) It made sure I have give at least some thought to my current situation and helped me prepare a list of questions for the CPA.

I started asking around in my social circles about CPA's that my friends were happy with (both service & fees). Then, I picked one from the references who was happy to correspond by email (my personal preference for a variety of reasons).

I dropped off all of the forms I had filled out myself along with the supporting documents and discussed my personal situation with her for 15-20 minutes, answered a couple of questions via email regarding the prior year's return and some investments that were not clear from the paperwork I had included, and finally stopped by her office for another 10-15 minute discussion and to pick my documents and to sign the forms allowing her to electronically file both my federal and state returns.

All of this cost me slightly less than $100. I realize that is probably at the low end of the spectrum since I live in a relatively low cost of living state in the Midwestern US; but, she said that having everything completely organized and ready for her review made her job very simple and cheap for me. (She only found one issue with the return I had prepared myself: A $60 deduction I had claimed which she said would not be allowed if any kind of audit were ever performed.)
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:06 AM   #29
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CoolChange, that sounds ideal. Next week I should find out if this tax problem is real or if all is fine as is. If my situation is indeed bad enough to require a CPA, then I will approach the situation in the same way you did because that sounds like a very smooth approach. From the posts on this thread, I am pretty sure it will cost more than you paid, but still I am encouraged.

Thanks, all. Too many posts to acknowledge individually but I have read all of them and have learned a lot.
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Old 04-19-2009, 04:52 PM   #30
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My guy charges $575 to do our taxes. It seems very reasonable.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:36 PM   #31
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Wow we have a great deal it would seem. We pay our guy $350 each year and our taxes are fairly complicated. He is a small operation but he has always done well by us, in fact this year we anticipated paying a huge amount, not only did we NOT have to pay, but we got a refund. So we were quite happy with him.

His father was a CPA and we were one of this guys original clients and I think he likely gives us a discount (not sure of that). But we like him and take him and his wife out to dinner each year after they finish our taxes. He is in the loop with us and our financial advisor and so far we have done well with both of these young men. They give us their opinions on any issues we bring before them, and then implement whatever direction we give them. I had a bunch of questions earlier this year about a child's Roth that I gave to my CPA and anticipated a charge for, and when I didn't get a bill from him, I asked and he basically told me that it was part of his service. A few years ago we had a really complicated land swap deal that he got us through which really cemented our relationship with him.

I think a good CPA is sort of like a good Mechanic, if you find one you trust, stick with him/her!
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:53 PM   #32
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We use a CPA to do our taxes, which are moderately complicated (own shares of a private corporation, itemized deductions, equities, and each year we dance the AMT dance and so far have escaped). Our CPA charges us per form, not per hour, and she does the work herself. She is also an Enrolled Agent with the IRS and so can represent us should we get into an audit situation. This year we paid $450. She also gives us advice throughout the year for free; we've probably used about 2 hours of her time this year, what with my FIL's estate and all. Love her. We found her through DH's work; his boss used her and it turns out about half their company does. She's one of the proprietors of a small tax firm; I think they have five CPAs now and a couple of clerical staff. We really like the personalized service.

FWIW, we live in a high cost-of-living area.

Good luck!
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:46 PM   #33
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Now I feel better. I thought our CPA charged us a ridiculous amount for our most recent taxes ($1600) but I guess that's not a bad amount after all because we're filing dual income tax returns (Canadian & U.S.). Plus, our guy is pretty knowledgeable (licensed in both countries, has fancy acronyms after his name, has written a book on cross-border taxation issues and also does the taxes for a famous hockey player - not that I care what an NHL player does but if the guy trusts him with millions, I can we can trust him with our small pittance :-) ).

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