Tax preparer Richard Sowell, left, works with a client at an H&R Block office in Washington, D.C. this month. Associated Press
How much will it cost to have a professional prepare your tax return this year?
The national average fee for 2014 returns will be $273, according to a survey by the National Society of Accountants.
Tax-preparation fees vary widely based on an individual’s circumstances and also the preparer—who could have a great deal of formal training or none at all. The National Society of Accountants says its members are “owners, principals and partners of local ‘Main Street’ practices who hold a variety of credentials.”
That average $273 fee is for a Form 1040 plus Schedule A (for itemized deductions such as mortgage interest and charitable donations), plus a state return. This year’s average fee is 11% higher than two years ago. the last time the survey was conducted.
The average cost reported by the National Society of Accountants conceals a wide variation among regions, as seen in the graphic below. The group found that the highest average fee, $348, will be
charged by survey participants in the Far West—a region encompassing California, Oregon and Washington, as well as Hawaii and Alaska.
The lowest average fee, $198, is expected in the upper Midwest—Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
National Society of Accountants
The survey also reported average fees for preparing additional tax forms. They include:
- $174 for Schedule C (business)
- $115 for Schedule D (investment gains and losses)
- $126 for Schedule E (rental income)
- $158 for Schedule F (farm)
- $634 for Form 1065 (partnership)
- $817 for Form 1120 (corporation)
- $778 for Form 1120S (S corporation)
According to the survey, many tax preparers offer prospective clients a free consultation that could be worth $100 or more—but they also charge an average fee of $114 for dealing with disorganized or incomplete records.
The average fee for expediting a return is $88, and there’s often a charge the client does not provide information by an agreed-upon deadline.
The average hourly rate to handle an Internal Revenue Service audit is $144.