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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a tax preparer during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The best way to conduct an appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic is virtually, as this will ensure that you remain within the CDC's social distancing guidelines.

Ask tax professional near you if they would be willing to give a consultation via phone call, Zoom, Skype or other video conferencing software to discuss the scope of work. Also, ask them how they handle payments and whether they will be able to conduct all of their services remotely.

How much does it cost to get taxes done?

Hiring a professional to help with income tax preparation can be priceless. Pro help can mean no mistakes and a maximized tax return. The cost to get your income taxes done depends on the professional you hire. Tax attorneys or in-demand CPAs will often have the highest rates for their services. Next in the pricing tier are enrolled agents, who will usually have higher rates than individuals solely working with a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Nationally, the average cost of income tax preparation ranges from $150 to $190. Income tax preparation prices can also vary based on where you live and the complexity of your tax returns. Here are some examples of average income tax preparation prices from an enrolled agent:  

  • Taxpayers filing only a W-2 tax form: $50.
  • Taxpayers filing a W-2 along with additional tax forms such 1099-INT and 1098-E: $150.
  • Taxpayers with several tax forms and one or two additional considerations such as a rental property, investment transactions, K-1 income, 1099-MISC or a simple small business: $225.
  • Taxpayers with multiple activities (rentals, K-1 income, small business, etc.), several stock transactions and more: $395.

Nationally, the average hourly rate nationally for a tax prep professional ranges between $150 and $450.  

Is it better to have a CPA do your taxes?

Hiring a certified public accountant (CPA) could be a better option instead of doing your taxes by yourself, but it depends on your tax situation and preferences. Having a CPA do your taxes is usually recommended if you have a business or any type of side job, or if you’ve been contacted by the IRS for a tax-related matter. Others who can benefit are those who own rental properties or have many assets. You can also hire a CPA if you need help understanding what deductions or credit you might qualify for.

What is a tax preparer called?

A tax preparer can take the form of several different job titles, but they must have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) to be authorized to prepare federal tax returns, according to the IRS. Some titles may include enrolled agents, who are licensed by the IRS, as well as certified public accountants (CPAs). Some tax attorneys may offer tax preparation and planning services, though not all are qualified to do this.

Is it worth it to pay someone to do your taxes?

There are several reasons it could be worth it to have an experienced professional do your taxes instead of self-filing. For example, it can help reduce the chance of you making a mistake that could land you in trouble with the IRS. And, it could save you time for other important tasks. If you have a side job, rental property or many assets, having someone do your taxes can pay off in the short- and long-run.

Contact several tax professionals near you to discuss your needs and get free estimates. Then, decide if hiring a pro is right for you.

Does a tax preparer need to enter my home?

It is not typically necessary for a tax preparer to enter your home. Many CPAs and tax professionals operate remotely. Ask the tax professional if they can conduct their services remotely, and see what precautions they have in place during social distancing.

Can I use digital payments to pay for tax preparation services?

Before you hire a tax professional, visit their business profile to see how they handle payments. Many CPAs and tax experts accept digital payments through Venmo, PayPal, Square Cash, Zelle and other online platforms. More businesses may be changing their payment methods to accommodate social distancing. Check with your tax preparer to see how they handle payments. 

Reviews for Ashburn tax preparers
Colin M.
Best tax preparation experience I have ever had.
FIRM1040®FIRM1040®
Allan C.
Prepared my taxes quickly and accurately, and was able to answer any questions I had.
JBJ Tax & Accounting ServicesJBJ Tax & Accounting Services
Thumbtack Customer
Marina is providing tax preparation services for my small business. She has been easy to work with and extremely accommodating.
Marina Rubinshtein, CPA, MBAMarina Rubinshtein, CPA, MBA
Martin F.
Niky is super efficient, she prepared the tax return for our LLC promptly and right on time, even though the deadline was really tight. I'm planning to hire her again for my personal tax returns. Highly recommendable.
Financial Solutions, Inc.Financial Solutions, Inc.
Melanie C.
Brian is not only very thorough and knowledgeable but very detailed oriented, patient and quick to respond to any questions we had regarding our complicated taxes and questions. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is seeking a reliable tax preparer.
Brian Lang TaxBrian Lang Tax
Thumbtack Customer
It was a pleasure to work with Daphene on my taxes for 2015. Not only were we able to complete my taxes on time but also she dealt with my complex tax issue in very wise way. As a novice when it comes to preparing tax, Daphene walked me through each part of the tax return, taking her time to explain what each part meant, and answering every single and simple question that I had for her. Even after the preparation concluded, Daphene still reached out to me to let me know how can I improve on my tax return for future years. She's definitely a pro who I intend on going back to 2016-2017. I Can't Recommend Highly Enough!!!!” Thank you Daphene! Keep up the great work!
De'More Tax ServiceDe'More Tax Service
Julian B.
Tara has been a great partner helping me file my first ever tax return with a schedule C and answering any questions I had. I liked that she is a CPA yet is more affordable than other less qualified tax preparers. Her system is easy to use and it was overall a very smooth experience! Definitely recommend :)
Taxes by TaraTaxes by Tara
Julia W.
David was a pro. He prepared my taxes in a timely manner while making sure to get me all possible deductions. I would refer him to anyone seeking a CPA and utilize his services in the future.
DM Accounting ServicesDM Accounting Services
Thumbtack Customer
Cherie was very kind, courteous, and knowledgeable. With the efficiency of a true professional, she helped to prepare my taxes in a timely manner with very short notice during the busiest last few days of tax season. I recommend her for anybody either self employed filing 1099s or for those filing W-2s. I will certainly use her for future filing. Thanks Cherie!
FIRM1040®FIRM1040®
Carol B.
This is my first experience working with an accountant and was pleasantly surprised at the level of professionalism and ownership of work. James was extremely patient, answered all of my endless questions, and was very thorough. Overall, I was very pleased with the work James did for my tax preparation.
James E Jones, CPAJames E Jones, CPA
Thumbtack Customer
Marvin Smith was hired 10/15/14 to prepare my 2013 personal income tax. I filed for an extension back in 04/2014, was granted 6 months and it was now due (10/15/14). Mr Smith was punctual, profession, very knowledgeable and informative. I received a binder, professionally put together with copies of all documents. I gave 4 Stars and not 5 because he did not E-file the taxes as promised. They had to be mailed to the IRS.
Smith Bookkeeping Financial Services LLCSmith Bookkeeping Financial Services LLC
Ileana O.
4/15/19 Update: This is the second year David prepared and filed my taxes. I am not perfect, in fact I am THAT client that waits until the last minute. Nonetheless, David was helpful and informative. He has been patient with me every step of the way and answers all my questions very quickly. I will never do my own taxes again and it’s because David has been so great and taken a huge burden off my back. I came to David panicking about my income tax return. After many years of DIY'ing them, I had finally hit a wall. David was patient and thoughtful in his process and he was super quick. In less than a week he was able to complete my taxes and more importantly put my mind at ease. The process was so good, I plan to go back to him every year.
David Beck CPADavid Beck CPA
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Why you should hire a tax preparer

We get it — filing taxes can be overwhelming, confusing and tedious. But many tax preparers, including certified public accountants (CPAs) and tax attorneys, can guide you through this process to make sure it’s done right and save you stress. Reach out to the best tax preparers in your area to learn more about their expertise and services. You can also ask for free cost estimates before you hire a tax preparation service near you.

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