How Much to Pay Tax Preparer? Complicated Business Taxes!

Updated on April 14, 2014
M.W. asks from Billings, MT
15 answers

My husband and I own a small business with 8 employees. We also have 2 very small LLC businesses that are almost dormant. Or tax preparer does a very good job for us but his fee keeps going up every year. His fee includes all the tax prep for our business, our personal taxes and our partners' personal taxes. None of our friends or family will say how much they pay to get their taxes done. What do you think would be a reasonable fee to prepare this complicated tax situation?


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answers from Houston on

Whatever he charges, which should be disclosed up front. And if you're not happy with that, move on.
My wife paid her guy $375 for business taxes.

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answers from San Francisco on

A tax accountant will charge you anywhere from $350 to $1800 (or more) to prepare your taxes. Taxes for C & S corp companies are on the $1800-$3500 per year end of the price spectrum for a good tax accountant (this is in The Bay Area of California). My husband & I pay our tax accountant $1800 per year for a "C" corp business and I do all the tax prep because I'm a bookkeeper. That being said, you may be able to minimize your costs by having a qualified bookkeeper handle the "prep". I would ask your tax accountant how much of his fee includes organizing and tallying up the information you give him...essentially the "prep". In my area the average going rate for a qualified bookkeeper ranges from $40 to $85 per hour, a much lower rate than an accountant would charge for the same work. I work with about 6 different accountant's at this point and acquired some of their clients specifically for tax prep so the client could save money on the filing part of it. It will still not be cheap. Tax laws change, sometimes multiple times during a given year. A tax accountant, or enrolled agent, needs to keep up with all those changes through continuing education classes and seminars which is time consuming and expensive too. If you were here, and assuming you gave the accountant clean records already tallied in QuickBooks or Quicken (or some other accounting software), I would expect you to be charged a minimum of $850 for the business, $350 each for the almost dormant LLC's and a minimum of $500 for each of the personal returns. If you think you're paying to much, call around and see what other tax accountants in your area are charging for the same services you are currently receiving. Your current tax accountant may be giving you a great rate and you just don't know it.

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answers from Dallas on

Let's see, I assume you want someone with expertise and experience with all types of taxes as well as someone who is capable of working with the IRS on a client's behalf if needed.

We own our company and we do not spare expense and go cheap on something this critical.

We pay around $1000 a year for our CPA to do the taxes and any other taxes required by law. He is our right hand man in the event there is some sort of question. I do all the quarterly reports and filing and he has access to those as well as my QuickBooks.

I'd much rather spend about $1000 a year and be confident that my taxes are done properly than not know and be faced with potential fines and fees from the IRS. The IRS does not buy the "I didn't know that" excuse.

As for personal, we pay $300 and he did our daughter's very simple return for $100.

I make sure we have funds on account with our CPA so if I ever call or need his help, he knows he is paid on the spot. I replenish those funds when the credit drops below a certain amount.

I hope you find someone you are comfortable with to manage your taxes because dealing with the IRS, especially without excellent representation is scary and costly.

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answers from Dallas on

We pay $500 for our personal taxes, but hubby has a lot of business expenses and I have a home office so there's some nuances. For us it was worth it - the first year I had our accountant I also did turbotax, accountant got us a refund and turbotax said we owed. Well worth the money we spend.

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answers from Williamsport on

I've always had extremely complicated taxes and now they are BEYOND complicated as long as I'm joint filing with my ex (one more year). His business is CRAZY, so along the same lines as yours.

A CHEAP guy was $150 because I was locked in as his client from the 90s. An outrageous NY guy specializing in the types of returns we need charged us $750 one year and I begged for mercy and told him not to file for us. A local place charged us $250 but did them wrong, they just weren't equipped for such unconventional and difficult returns. The accountant we use now charges $450. He's in New Jersey, and he does them RIGHT for federal, PA and NJ taxes, international tax credits and all. Worth every penny.

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answers from Miami on

Well, in Ft. Lauderdale, given basic assumptions about what you said:
LLCs - $350 each
Business - depends but could be as much as several thousand dollars.
Personal - minimum of $500 could be into the thousands
Partners' personal taxes - see above

I work in a CPA firm and could give you better info with more info from you. My boss is not thrilled that my baby is home sick today:) We have increased our fees as well, due to Obamacare and all of the associated IRS implications plus all of the income testing provisions for various taxes we had to buy all new computers this year and more expensive software. Two or three years ago, the current administration mandated electronic filing for all CPA firms filing more than 100 tax returns. That caused our costs to go up which we passed along to our clients.

When we invoice our clients they can see what kind of prep and how much that cost them per hour went into their tax return. Funny how people complain about CPAs and willingly pay attorneys!

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answers from Boca Raton on

When I had my own entity for a professional business I was running basically on a part-time basis - my tax guy was charging me $700-$800 per year. It was freaking nuts. I shuttered my business because of that and the insurance I needed. Not worth the hassle and expense.

We do live in an expensive area and our personal return is complicated (same guy did that one too for a separate fee).

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answers from Austin on

As frustrating as it is, you are paying for (hopefully) their expertise in tax law. If you were to be audited, he could also be liable if he didn't do things correctly, I believe.

I went to a local tax prep office for the first time... I've always done our taxes, but they've been fairly simple. However, this year we had some complicating factors.

This tax office offers tax prep for free various weeks for different categories... military, teachers/school staff, etc...... I got in on one of the free weeks..... if I hadn't gotten in on the free week, it would have cost $269.... and it really wasn't that complicated.... schedule K for a trust, dividend and interest, educational expenses... and we didn't even itemize!

Tax prep by professionals is expensive...... but I would worry with your small business stuff that it needs to be done properly.

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answers from Columbia on

Your accountant has set fees for each type of tax preparation. If you want to know what he charges, ask. My accounant charged $175 for our personal taxes this year.

If you retain his services, you pay his fees. You don't get to choose how much to pay.

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answers from Chicago on

Around here something like that would be about $1500. I'm curious about what you are paying. Care to share?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have a home based business and I use H&R Block Tax & Business Service for several years. I think this year I paid $340. Last year I paid $325. Not happy with the increase, AGAIN, but I trust them to do a good job as they have in the past.



answers from Chicago on

well we got our taxes done (hubby and myself) he is an electrician, I provide child care for a family so have self employed stuff going on. our cost was close to $400 for just us. you have it going on with 8 people plus your selves. what does he charge?



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would imagine each person will set their own price. If you think it's too much then go through your phone book yellow pages and call each CPA for a price estimate.

I think that your taxes sound complicated. I'd want to make sure and have the best person to manage their paperwork. Also if the LLC's are dormant it might be time to close them down. If it's costing you money to keep them open it might be time.


answers from Washington DC on

somewhere between $500 and a grand for that much work.



answers from New York on

You ahve 8 employees which means quarterly withholding as well as regular business taxes - and I assume - your personaly taxes? That is a lot of work and expertise you're paying for.

I would have no idea of the going rate in Montana - I'm sure it would be much higher here in NY (everything is).

Why don't you bid it out to other tax preparers? Make a list of the number & type of returns files, the number and type of schedules that are attached. Itemize where the preparer has to collect the schedules of whether you collect them. Who organizes recipets and records of expenses, sales, etc. The more that has to be done by the preparer the more you pay.

Also keep in mind that tax laws have gotten so much more complicated under this administration. Your tax preparer has to go for continuing education on a regular basis too I assume in order to keep up with the chagnes that happen all the time.

Finally - consdier what your time is worth. If it would take you or your husband half a day to get the return done (it would probably take longer than you think) so there's the "opportunity" cost - what you could be doing if you weren't doing the taxes.

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