Tax Preparation Fees at Smith, Kunz - It's not just about numbers.

January 8, 2016

Our firm slogan is, “It’s not just about numbers.”  The slogan is meant to remind us and our clients that economic profit metrics should not be the only yardstick we use to measure success in our businesses and our personal lives.  Money is nice.  More money is better.  But the old adage of, “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” is true.

We try to be fair in the rates we charge for our services, often erring (if you use economic profit metrics only) on the generous side.  Especially during the last couple of years, we could never justify charging what other firms think they’re worth.  Due to our high level of service, the low fees we charge, and the relationships we try to build with clients, we’ve been blessed to have a very loyal client base made up of friends.  That matters more to us than just the numbers.

Recently, the National Society of Accountants (NSA) published their biennial survey (link here to a summary of the survey) of the average fees charged by tax preparers around the nation.  The survey covered nearly 8,000 tax preparers in all geographic regions.  In light of our slogan, reading this survey was very satisfying for us.

The NSA found that the average fee for preparing an itemized Form 1040 with a Schedule A and a state tax return cost taxpayers $273 this year. Rates for non-itemized returns, a Form 1040 and state return without itemized deductions, average $159.  Both average fees were up nearly $50 compared to the fees 2 years ago.

The survey also reported the average fees for preparing other widely filed tax forms, including:

  • $447 for a Form 1040 Schedule C (profit or loss from business)
  • $634 for a Form 1065 (partnership)
  • $817 for a Form 1120 (corporation)
  • $778 for a Form 1120S (S corporation)
  • $457 for a Form 1041 (fiduciary)
  • $688 for a Form 990 (tax exempt)
  • $68 for a Form 940 (federal unemployment)

All fees assumed that a taxpayer has gathered and organized all necessary information.

Fees also varied by region. The average tax preparation fee for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return in each U.S. census district are as follows:

  • New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) – $246
  • Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA) – $314
  • South Atlantic (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV) – $268
  • East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN) – $262
  • West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX) – $205
  • East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) – $240
  • West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD) – $198
  • Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY) – $256
  • Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA) – $348

The relevant professional credentials held by NSA survey participants include:

  • Certified Public Accountants – Roughly 25% of respondents
  • Enrolled Agents
  • Accredited Tax Preparers
  • Accredited Tax Advisors

How does Smith, Kunz & Associates Compare?

So, how does Smith, Kunz compare with the averages?  You would assume that holding the credential of Certified Public Accountant (the highest credential in the accounting world) would lead our firm to charge more than those tax preparers holding other credentials, or no credential at all.  However, while each return Smith, Kunz prepares and the associated fees charged are unique, Smith, Kunz’s rates are much lower than the national and regional averages.  This is especially true for small businesses.  In many cases, our average rates are half the national average. 

Our current clients know what we charge, and can compare those fees against these national averages.  If they didn’t already realize they’re getting a bargain, they do now.  We hope that they are pleased with our service, and with our fees.  For any prospective clients, we encourage you to set up an appointment with one of our CPA’s today, but not just because our fees are lower.  Remember, it’s not just about numbers.