Ashburn, VA 20149

Tax Preparers on Thumbtack cost$180 - $250

Average price

29 Tax Preparers found near you!

  • Lowest price:$100
  • Most common low price:$180
  • Most common high price:$250
  • Highest price:$400

How much does tax preparation cost?

The average cost of tax preparation nationwide is $180, but a few things can affect the fee. Really it all comes down to how complicated your tax situation is, how much work is needed, and the kind of preparer you pick.

What's in this cost guide? 

How do tax preparers set their prices?

There isn't a standard tax preparation fee. Some pros will charge hourly (which can add up significantly if you're not careful). Most will require a flat fee based on the return type. Some tax preparation companies have set rates based on which filing bracket the taxpayer falls into — so each person in the same bracket pays the same fee. Thumbtack pro JRG Taxes in McKinney, TX offers the following four-tier flat rate pricing that includes joint tax returns, small businesses, rental properties and e-filing:

  • A taxpayer filing only a W2 tax form pays $50.
  • A taxpayer filing a W2 plus a couple other tax forms, such as a 1099-INT, pays $150.
  • A taxpayer with several tax forms and a couple other activities (like a rental property, K-1 income, or a simple small business) pays $225.
  • A taxpayer with multiple activities, several stock transactions and more pays $395.

Some tax preparers will include filing your state income tax in their fee. Others will charge for a federal return only and charge extra for a state return. JRG Taxes charges an extra $50 fee per state filed for personal tax returns and $100 for business returns. Chat with your pro so you know exactly what's included.

What can increase the cost of tax preparation?

Different things can affect the tax preparation fee, such as:

  • Location: If you live in a more expensive area, you may need to pay more for tax preparation.
  • Rush fee: Left your tax return to the last minute? Your tax pro may charge a premium to file it on time.
  • Volume: You'll pay more if your tax situation is needs extra work. A simple Form 1040 filing is going to cost less than multiple returns.
  • Complexity: Certain itemized deductions, like property income taxes, medical and dental expenses, home mortgage interest — anything other than a standard deduction — can add to the complexity of your situation. Special tax situations, like owning rentals or foreign income, can also affect the cost of your tax preparation fee.

How do I hire the right tax preparer for me?

Let's start with the wrong kind: watch out for anyone who promises you a bigger tax refund, or charges you a fee based on the percentage of your refund. That's not how payment works with proper tax pros.

Any tax pro who files your taxes needs to have a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identifier Number).But everyone's tax situation is different. And the fee you pay can vary depending on the type of tax preparer you hire.

Here's a basic overview:

Tax preparer

Credentials

Scope

Cost

Annual filing season program participant (AFSP)

Taken the IRS Annual Filing Season Program, a voluntary program for anyone with a PTIN but no credentials.

They can prepare your tax return, but they have limited representation rights before the IRS.

Often the cheapest to hire.

Enrolled agents (EAs)

Passed the IRS Special Enrollment Examination and take continuing education courses. Certified at the federal level.

EAs can handle most kinds of tax returns. They can also represent you before any department in the IRS.

Tend to charge more than an AFSP, but less than a CPA.

Certified public accountants (CPA)

Licensed accountants who have passed the Uniform CPA exam. Certified at the state level.

A tax accountant is a CPA that specializes in tax preparation. Like an EA, they can handle complicated tax returns and represent you before the IRS.

Tend to charge more than an EA, but a CPA can also help with other accounting services like financial planning or auditing.

Tax attorneys

Licensed to practice law. They may have a special legal degree for taxation.

Tax attorneys deal with complicated legal cases, like if you end up in tax court or you're worried about a fraud charge. You also have attorney-client privilege.

You're paying for their legal expertise, so they're usually the most expensive.

What's the benefit of hiring somebody instead of doing it myself?

Ok, so it can seem pointless to pay a tax preparation fee when you can e-file your own taxes with an online tax software. Plenty of people use Free File — so why shouldn't you? Let's imagine you have questions about your tax situation. Maybe you're not sure what to deduct or have no idea how to figure out your Adjusted Gross Income. So you give up and call the IRS hotline. And probably wait for hours to even talk to someone.

If you have a complicated question, it helps to have face-to-face interaction with a professional who is invested in your case. You may even save money. A tax preparer may find a tax credit or deduction that you missed. They can avoid any expensive mistakes you might make on your own and they can also help with tax planning year round.

Anyway, let's be honest — no one likes filing taxes. If you don't want to know the difference between a W2 and a Form 1040, have no idea what counts as an itemized deduction, or just want the biggest refund possible (hey, it's your money) — hiring a tax preparer can be really helpful. Because unless you just love keeping up with the latest tax codes, a tax preparer can save you time and mental energy.

Thumbtack does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. This article isn't intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.

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