Certified Public Accountants in private practice, like me, offer a high level of service for the preparation and filing of annual income tax returns. This comes at a price. CPAs are usually among the most expensive providers of tax preparation services. Annual tax industry surveys indicate that the cost of CPA return preparation is, on average, more than 25% or more higher than the published rates for non-credentialed preparers. That seems true in my case where I set a basic fee of $200 for an ordinary individual tax return and $300 for one that itemizes expenses or takes a tax credit. The service becomes more expensive as the tax returns get more complicated. Business tax returns tend to be the most expensive. So how do you know that you are getting your money’s worth in tax return preparation services?
Not everyone needs a CPA. In fact, most people do not need or want this level of credentialed professional service to file a tax return. For those who do use a CPA for income tax return preparation, it makes sense to consider the reasons for that decision. The best and most common reasons are:
- Assurance of personal service
- Availability for other accounting, planning or advisory issues issues
- Assurance in the event that audit representation is needed later
- Complex tax matters
Before I agree to prepare a tax return, I will look for one or more of these factors to ensure value in our work.
It is also worth mentioning that most CPAs, to my knowledge, follow a different work plan than what is described by some other tax preparers. We treat the tax return preparation as a separate task than the tax return review. In my case, for example, I put the tax return aside overnight and review the work on a different day with a new set of eyes. Some CPA offices have separate staff for the preparation and review of tax returns.
In my normal tax practice, I spend much more effort representing taxpayers who get into tax trouble upon audit than actually preparing initial tax returns. Still, I am pleased to offer tax preparation service this season if one or more of the above criteria is indicated.
Please call or text to get started with a short conversation. Normally, if we agree that this is a good option for you, then the rest of the tax return process is handled electronically.