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Tax Return Fees by CPA
Old 03-27-2015, 01:22 PM   #1
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Tax Return Fees by CPA

How much does your CPA charge you for your tax returns? Just getting some comps.

Mine charged me $285 this year, which I thought was kind of high. I did sell off about ~20% of my portfolio for downpayment on a house purchase in 2014, so there was a little (not much) more leg work there computing my CGT.

Other than that, all I have is a 401k, roth IRA, brokerage account, savings account, HSA account, and mortgage interest deduction.
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Old 03-27-2015, 01:31 PM   #2
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After reading your post, I though there must be a source of data for this, like from the friendly folks at IRS. And there was...
Tax Preparation Costs and Fees | US Tax Center
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Old 03-27-2015, 01:56 PM   #3
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$500 for a 1041 is worth it, IMO - I couldn't get past the instructions
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:07 PM   #4
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$500 for a 1041 is worth it, IMO - I couldn't get past the instructions
I do 2 trust returns with 1041. Fortunately both are fairly simple and I just use the IRS provided fill-in pdf forms and file the old fashioned paper copy method. You can download the instruction forms as well, it does take reading them a couple times to get a decent understanding of what you are supposed to do.

For OP, depending on the complexity of your return, consider doing it yourself with a software program.
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:09 PM   #5
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this was for my late FILs estate, what a pita
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by younginvestor2013 View Post
How much does your CPA charge you for your tax returns? Just getting some comps.

Mine charged me $285 this year, which I thought was kind of high. I did sell off about ~20% of my portfolio for downpayment on a house purchase in 2014, so there was a little (not much) more leg work there computing my CGT.

Other than that, all I have is a 401k, roth IRA, brokerage account, savings account, HSA account, and mortgage interest deduction.
Have you ever looked at any of the available tax software? For most people it's pretty intuitive. The software walks you through the different items. Much of the data can be downloaded from your bank, brokerage, employer and mutual funds. Capital gains is easy to calculate with all of the software I've used. With discounts, you can get almost any of them for under $50.
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$500 for a 1041 is worth it, IMO - I couldn't get past the instructions

I can see using a CPA if you have "complicated" activities. This would be limited partnerships outside of a tax deferred account and multiple transactions in depreciated properties. Even then, I think you could learn to do them yourself. A key think for using a CPA is to keep up on the ever changing tax regulations but here you need to be dipping into unusual tax situations.

My FIL had used a CPA for decades. When DW and I took over the finances, I started doing his taxes. He only needed a simple tax return with itemized medical deductions for his assisted living and nursing home costs. Before I took over, his CPA was charging him $600 for a 1040EZ.
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:12 PM   #7
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I just read an article in Accounting Today that stated that the average fee for a 1040 with Sch A and a state tax return is expected to be $273 this year. 1040 with state but no Sch A is expected to be $159.

I suggest that you consider DIY for 2015 if you have a simple return.
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:17 PM   #8
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It should be noted that Turbotax business will do 1041s both estate and trust, as well as 1065s for partnerships, and for corporations. As compared to the individual if your doing an investment partnership, you just have to enter the details on details entries and worry about making the books balance. (Probably harder if the partnership actually is a non passive entity)
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:18 PM   #9
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I used to pay $600 for a 1040 with K-1s and multiple state income. Now I do it myself.
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:48 PM   #10
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I would urge the OP to look at what the CPA has prepared for him/her this year and try to re-create it themselves. Although sometimes time consuming, most tax returns even for small business owners (having been one) are not ~difficult~ to prepare. The issues involved that the OP describes with their return are well within the means of most people provided they gather the necessary IRS instructions and publications.

I will say that I am a DIY'r and having my tax life in order from a very early age has helped me achieve FI. But that may not interest alot of folks; if so, the software path for tax return perparation may be better. I though, prefer the hands on approach. I'd rather make the error myself than some programmer in India.

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Old 03-27-2015, 02:59 PM   #11
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I used to pay $700 to have our company's CPA do my personal taxes. Thought it was very high, so I did a few years on turbotax. Then I went with a new CPA because I had some issues that turbotax and I couldn't handle, and he charges $150.
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Old 03-27-2015, 06:05 PM   #12
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$450 this past year.

Previous accountant was $750 but that was back in our days of quite complicated taxes. Some years now, I just go with TT.
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Old 03-27-2015, 07:23 PM   #13
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Have you ever looked at any of the available tax software? For most people it's pretty intuitive. The software walks you through the different items. Much of the data can be downloaded from your bank, brokerage, employer and mutual funds. Capital gains is easy to calculate with all of the software I've used. With discounts, you can get almost any of them for under $50.



I can see using a CPA if you have "complicated" activities. This would be limited partnerships outside of a tax deferred account and multiple transactions in depreciated properties. Even then, I think you could learn to do them yourself. A key think for using a CPA is to keep up on the ever changing tax regulations but here you need to be dipping into unusual tax situations.

My FIL had used a CPA for decades. When DW and I took over the finances, I started doing his taxes. He only needed a simple tax return with itemized medical deductions for his assisted living and nursing home costs. Before I took over, his CPA was charging him $600 for a 1040EZ.

Ouch....FIL better have been receiving a nice birthday and Christmas card from CPA or he was really getting ripped off!


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Old 03-28-2015, 06:57 AM   #14
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I have used Turbo Tax for years. this year I was going to owe a lot so went to CPA. He was going to charge me $390.

I had started my return on TT before going to him. His calculations said I was going to owe twice what I had calculated. I dug into it and found he made a mistake and pointed it our to him. He just sent me an email yesterday apologizing and said he was waving his fee.....................
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Old 03-28-2015, 07:22 AM   #15
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Wow. I guess I'm paying too much: $850 last year -- though there were some K-1s involved. My taxes should get a lot simpler after this year's (2015) returns are filed, since I w*rked at my law firm at the beginning of this year and therefore still had K-1 income.
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Old 03-28-2015, 08:10 AM   #16
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Wow. I guess I'm paying too much: $850 last year -- though there were some K-1s involved. My taxes should get a lot simpler after this year's (2015) returns are filed, since I w*rked at my law firm at the beginning of this year and therefore still had K-1 income.
It's hard to say. Many tax preparers have set charges for specific forms, so each K-1 and each 1099 adds to the total fee.

Many of us have found that after employment ended our tax prep simplified and we are able to do it with one of the tax SW paskages.
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Old 03-28-2015, 09:49 AM   #17
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Usually around $1700 for 1040, state return, and 2 rental properties (next year it will be one) with all the accompanying forms. That's with a 10% discount for providing all the documentation before the end of February.

I would use Turbo Tax, but have never been able to get the hang of the rental property portion. It seems simple enough at first, but the loss carryovers and suchlike throw me. As I've posted elsewhere on the forum, TT throws curve balls - asks for information from last year's return, but calls it something I can't recognize or translate to what the CPA used.

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Old 03-28-2015, 09:51 AM   #18
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Ours charges $10 for each 1099. So if you have a lot of accounts, it can get expensive. Some of our accounts barely pay more than $10 in a year.

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It's hard to say. Many tax preparers have set charges for specific forms, so each K-1 and each 1099 adds to the total fee.
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Old 03-28-2015, 09:55 AM   #19
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My guy is extremely cheap. Think I pay about $195 which includes -

1040 with schedule A itemized & electronic filing
State of MN return - electronic filing
Schedule C business return
Return for my 11 rental properties

I use an accountant who works from his home so low costs.
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Old 03-28-2015, 10:00 AM   #20
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I'm amazed at what some are paying. I use TaxAct year after year and it populates the basic information and pulls forward long term losses generated during the recession. Inputting our simple information only takes an hour at most. Fortunately, our situation is no complicated.
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