Friday, November 4, 2016


Here are some of the results of a recent study of the cost of having your tax return prepared done by the National Association of Tax Professionals.
The survey was administered electronically to about 11,000 tax pros, “a 50% stratified random sample of NATP’s membership population.  A total of 1,604 participants completed the survey for an overall response rate of 15%.
(1) The national average cost for preparing a basic Form 1040, with no additional forms or schedules, is $114.00.
(2) The preparation fee varies based on the “credential”, or lack thereof, of the preparer.  The average fee (again for a basic 1040 with no additional forms or schedules) charged by an “unenrolled” preparer is about $100.00.  The highest average fee is, no surprise here, is charged by a CPA – $169.30 (170% of the fee charged by the “unenrolled” preparer).  The average fee charged by a CPA is actually $8.00 more than the fee charged by an attorney.  FYI - the average fee charged by an Enrolled Agent is $122.84 (123.4% of that charged by the “unenrolled”).    
I doubt very much that the quality of preparation and service and competency of the preparer and return provided to the client by a CPA preparer is 170% that of the quality and competence provided by the average unenrolled preparer.  If you ask me it is reversed – the quality and competence of the unenrolled preparer is 170% that of the overall quality and competence of the CPA preparer.
(3) The preparation fee also varies based on where you live. The average fee for the basic Form 1040 for my clients in New Jersey and New York is $115.54.  It is $113.86 for PA taxpayers, as well as those who live in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington DC. 
The highest average fee - $135.21 – is charged by prepared in California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona.  And you will be charged the lowest average fee - $97.79 – if you live in Colorado, Montane, North or South Dakota, and Wyoming. 
How much are you paying?
The complete survey is available free to all NATP members.  If you are a tax preparer and you do not belong to NATP please email me at with “NATP Membership Info” in the subject line and I will send you membership information.
Also – I have prepared a compilation of my thoughts on various issues of importance to the tax professional community.  If you are a tax pro and would like a copy, which is provided free as a pdf email attachment, email me with “IF YOU ASK ME” in the subject line and I will send it to you.

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