How much do you charge?
I am very competitive in my pricing because I have decided not to simply apply a “menu-item” approach as many other tax preparers or national companies do. For instance, if you indicate that you have a home business many firms will automatically escalate your charge to a certain minimum and then add on from there according to how many forms are used.
This makes no sense to me because your business might be very simple. My approach in this case would be to adjust my price not only on the form but also the amount of time consumed in either calculation or research. I find that my clients also endorse this value based pricing scheme.
How soon will I get my return?
I try to get your return done within a couple weeks but this may vary one way or the other depending on my work load and any complications met. In any case I place a high priority on communication so that my client knows my plans for their return and how it is progressing. I encourage clients to contact me at any point about timing, cost or any other questions as they emerge.
Why Pay a CPA?
Why not just use the software so available these days? My response is that if you have a simple return and your situation is much like previous years … use the software or online program! (You may want to run it by a professional for review if you haven’t before, but that is up to you.)
But … if you want someone who is certified by the state of Oregon to:
Ask questions you may not have thought about potentially saving you well over you cost to hire a CPA
Be present to your questions all through the year (not just tax season) and address your particular situation.
Represent you with Power of Attorney before the IRS. An accountant may prepare your return but is not authorized with POA to represent you before the IRS. The IRS labels accountants as unenrolled preparers and they have limited ability to represent a client in a tax matter. You may read more about tax preparers at Understanding Tax Return Preparer Credentials
Provide professional and certified skills. (A CPA is licensed by the state after passing a series of rigorous exams and a year of supervised mentorship. Unlike an accountant, CPA’s also are required to complete 80 hours of continuing education every two years. You can learn more about the requirements for Continuing Education as well as Ethical and Professional standards at: American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA).)
Offer you personalized advice and tips to help you in future tax years
Guide you through with problematic situations such as audits, back taxes, etc.
Provide business owners and stock investors the consequent tax impact of their decisions
In summary a tax service or an accountant may be qualified to prepare your return, but they will not be able to represent you and assist you in case of an audit, tax matter or in strategic decision making in your personal finances or the concerns of your business.