The audit department has been dealing with it for years: deep discounts in the price of an audit in exchange for higher fees on the consulting side.
Now the commoditization of tax return preparation -- already hammered by do-it-yourself software -- has reached the ultimate in price wars. Financial management company H D Vest announced that it will provide it's customers with free tax return preparation beginning this next season. The hook? More clients, more assets under management, more profits for HD Vest.
Through the H.D. Vest Financial Services web site more than one million consumers will be able to complete their 1999 tax return forms - from the 1040 EZ to the more complex forms - online and e-file them for free.
As the return is being prepared, the system will prompt the user to alert him or her to year end tax planning opportunities. At the click of a button, the customer will be connected to a local HD Vest consultant who can talk through the financial or tax issues.
Unlike other services, there will be no income minimum or maximum.
Web-based online tax return preparation will be a big push this year, as other tax preparation giants H&R Block and Intuit are looking to launch significantly-reduced fee based services starting in January.
How will this affect your practice? IT JUST MAKES CLIENT SERVICE THAT MUCH MORE ESSENTIAL!