Who likes doing taxes? Basically no one. And if you’re like me, you understand that paying your taxes is necessary, but it’s an annual pain in the butt. And the thought of doing my own taxes? My eyes are crossed just thinking about it!
But what if I told you there’s a way for tax season to be easy, stress-free and, dare I say, convenient? There is! You can get someone else to do your taxes for you—a professional.
Spending your weekends at a desk stressing out over tax forms and schedules is not the move. Take it from me, finding a tax advisor may be your best bet this tax season. Real talk: Unless your spouse or Uncle Bob is an accountant, tax prep isn’t free. But I’m telling you from experience, it’s definitely worth it!
So, how much does it cost to have a professional do your taxes? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Your Taxes Done?
As always, I’m here to shoot you straight, so here it is: The average cost for a basic tax form preparation is about $220.1 That covers a standard 1040 and state return with no itemized deductions. But don’t run off with that number just yet.
The truth is, tax preparation could cost anywhere from $200 to $600 (or more) depending on how complicated your tax situation is, where you live, and how your tax pro charges for services.
Now, I’m the type who wants real numbers, so I can make a plan to cover the cost. Here are four questions to ask in order to get the information you need:
1. How qualified do you want your professional to be?
An average tax preparer will probably charge less than a high-quality pro who has loads of experience. But when it comes to the IRS and your money, I’m not playing games. This isn’t an area where I want to cut corners. But hey, maybe that’s just me.
When it comes to buying a service, I want you to save money just as much as you do. But when you hire experts—like tax pros, doctors and mechanics—it’s worth it to spend more cash to get the job done right the first time. Paying an extra $100–300 on the front end may be worth it in the long run, especially when that expert is thorough, accurate, and finds ways to cut your tax bill.
2. How organized are your taxes?
Look, if you roll up to a pro’s office with crumpled receipts shoved in your pockets and a grocery bag stuffed with W-2s, then you’re probably going to get hit with a higher fee. They can tell just by looking that you’re unorganized, which means more work (and a higher fee!) for them—good for them, but bad for you. Here’s my rule of thumb: The more organized you are, the less work a tax pro has to do. And that means a lower cost in the end. So, this is your signal to get your papers in order now.
3. Where do you live?
The fees for hiring a tax professional differ across the country. For instance, you can expect to pay more than average on the Pacific Coast and less in the good ol’ South.2
Here are the average tax preparation fees for an itemized 1040 with a Schedule A and state return in each region:
- New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT): $285
- Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA): $303
- South Atlantic (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV): $339
- East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN): $217
- West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX): $313
- East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI): $273
- West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, SD): $267
- Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY): $310
- Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA): $4323
You’ll notice most of these averages are higher than the $220 I mentioned above. That’s because that cost is for a simple 1040 tax return with no itemization. But most people who use a tax pro have more complicated situations that require extra forms and documents. Either way, expect your price tag to vary depending on the quality and experience of the pro, where you live, and your specific needs.
4. How complicated are your taxes?
Let’s be real for a second: If you want a basic tax filing, you can probably get away with paying a fee close to the minimum range. But the more complicated your tax situation is, the more time it’ll take to prepare your return. And we all know, time is money.
Don’t let taxes overwhelm you. Connect with a RamseyTrusted tax advisor.
For example, let’s say you have a side hustle. You’ll probably need to itemize deductions and file a Schedule C IRS form in addition to your basic 1040. In that case, the average cost is around $515.4
How Do Tax Advisors Set Their Prices?
When you sit down with a tax advisor for the first time, ask how they’re going to bill you. You don’t want there to be any surprises when it’s time to pay the piper! They will usually follow one of these five billing methods:
1. They charge a set fee for each tax form or schedule.
No ifs, ands or buts about it! They have one flat fee per form or schedule. If you’re wondering what the average costs for filing common forms are, here’s the breakdown:
- $323 for a Form 1040 with a Schedule A and state return
- $220 for a Form 1040 (non-itemized) and state return
- $192 for Schedule C (business)
- $118 for Schedule D (gains and losses)
- $145 for Schedule E (rental)
- $200 for Schedule F (farm)5
2. They charge a fee that matches what you paid the year before.
If you work with the same tax advisor each year, you’ll often get a matching rate. That means your advisor will charge you what they charged the year before—but that’s not always the case. If, for some reason, your tax situation has gotten more complex, be ready for the chance that your price could increase.
3. They charge a minimum fee, plus more if your taxes are complicated.
Some advisors charge a flat fee, but if you make them think too hard, they’ll have to charge you more to compensate for their time. Definitely ask up front if your advisor has extra fees beyond the flat rate.
4. They charge a value-based fee—a price based on feeling.
Some tax advisors will say, “Your taxes feel like they’ll cost $350.” You can see how value-based fees can easily lead to disputes. Then again, advisors do this day in and day out, and they’re used to quoting rates that match the elbow grease they’ll need to put into the job.
5. They charge an hourly rate.
If your tax advisor charges by the hour, make sure you find out how much they charge and how much time they expect to spend on your taxes. Hourly fees are usually $100–200 per hour, depending on what kind of tax forms you need to file.6
Where Can You Find a Trustworthy Tax Advisor?
Think of the cost of tax prep like the cost of getting your car washed. You can get a quick, basic car wash (minus the wax and all the other add-ons) pretty cheap. Sure, your car might not sparkle like new, but for $5, it gets the job done. And don’t be surprised if, on closer inspection, you see they missed a few spots.
Now, if you want to get your car detailed—I’m talking a deep clean where they get all the cookie crumbs out of your cupholders and shine the rims—you have to pay more.
The same goes for tax advisors. If you pay around $220, you’ll probably get an average tax preparer who may or may not help you get all the deductions you deserve. But for a little bit more, you can get a trustworthy tax advisor who cares about your situation, helps you understand tax changes, and ensures your tax bill is as low as possible.
If you’d like to find a tax advisor, we can put you in touch with a RamseyTrusted professional who’s earned our seal of trust. Find a tax pro now!
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