Rates and Fees

My standard rate for meetings/consultations is $120 per hour.

For individual income tax return preparation, it’s not a strict $120 per hour, since: 1) it’s difficult to track time precisely when I’m working on 30 or more different returns at once in the middle of tax season; and 2) there are additional costs that I incur as a tax preparer, including software and regulatory fees. Here’s how it often works out:

  • A very straightforward tax return (federal and state) generally costs between $160-$200, depending mostly on the amount of data entry required. Nothing complicated, no significant tax-planning considerations. A very basic return with not much more than simple W-2 income would be on the $160 side of that scale, while any return with itemized deductions (home mortgage interest, for example) would more likely be on the $200 side of that scale.
  • A slightly more complicated tax return will generally fall in the $220-$260 range. This would include returns with small-scale self-employment or rental income, significant investment income, income from another state, estimated tax considerations, etc. If more than one of those apply, that can put things in the $260-$300 range.
  • If there’s significant self-employment income (more than $50k in gross revenue) or multiple rental properties, if you’ve sold a rental property, if you’ve had many securities transactions, if there are AMT-related complications, or if there are significant tax-planning considerations (such as married-filing-separately), the total fee becomes more difficult to estimate in advance – generally in the $300-$400 range, unless more than one of these situations apply.
  • Above that range, it’s simply a matter of billing my hourly rate ($120) for any tax returns that end up taking more than 3 full hours of work/research/communications/etc. I’ve certainly prepared tax returns in the past that ended up taking 10+ hours. If you fall into this category, you probably already know it…

Tax returns for business entities (partnerships, multi-member LLC’s, and S-corporations) vary widely in cost. Most straightforward S-Corporation returns end up in the $300-$400 range, assuming your bookkeeping records are in decent shape.

(A very simple single-owner S-Corp tax return might add only $200 to your overall tax bill, if prepared in conjunction with your personal tax return.)

Amended tax returns usually fall in the $200-$300 range, depending on the level of complexity and whether an amended state return is also required.

The actual data entry is often less than half of the total time that goes into the the tax preparation process; there’s also emailing, meetings, phone calls, reviewing, assembling, mailing, filing, etc. If any of these steps take an unusually long time, then the fee will increase accordingly.

The information on this page is current only up to the original date of publication: June 6, 2010. For more information, please see the Terms of Use.