Tax return preparation fees vary by type of return, geographic region

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Individuals who hire professional tax return preparers are getting their money's worth, according to the National Society of Accountants (NSA). 

Alert: The NSA's biennial survey of nearly 8,000 tax preparers showed the average tax preparation fee for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return is only $229. Rates for non-itemized returns are even lower – the average cost to prepare a Form 1040 and state return without itemized deductions is only $129.

"The tax code becomes more complex every year – especially this year with so many new tax credits and other rules as the federal government attempts to provide some taxpayers with relief during the economic downturn," says NSA President Robert L. Cross, PA, ABA, ATA.

"With the constant changes and new provisions, it pays to have a professional tracking all the potential tax breaks for clients, who may miss them on their own. Even one extra deduction or tax credit can more than cover the fee paid to a professional tax preparer."

The survey found that tax preparation fees for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return averaged $217 at one-person firms and jumped slightly to $245 for firms with three or more staff.

Firms with lower levels of gross income also charge less on average than larger companies. For example, tax preparation firms with gross annual income of $50,000 or less charge an average of $174 for an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return, while a company with gross income of $400,000 or more charges an average of $305.

The survey found that the average fees for preparing other IRS tax forms include:

• $212 for a Form 1040 Schedule C (profit or loss from business)
• $551 for Form 1065 (partnership)

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my mother passed away recently - never having worked however my father had her and his assets held in trust - say about $5 million - when my father had his accountant prepare the 706 form and returns - there are 5 trusts i believe. The total cost was about $60,000 - however when he matches the attorneys statement to the accountant stating he is working with the attorney - they attorney bills 15 minutes and the accountant 3 hours in many cases. Incidentally rates for these individuals are : Attorney: $500, Accountant: $410, Accounting assistant $300 all hourly.

is my father being taken advantage of - initially the accountant just sent him single line item bills for these items - essentially amount due for work; $40,000 etc,.

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It's really difficult to make a determination without actually seeing the itemized bill. If the accountant merely filed the estate return the bill seems very high. If the accountant had to file all 5 trust returns, the estate return and make distributions from the trusts to the beneficiaries and perform other complex calculations and tasks, it may be legitimate. I'd ask for an itemized copy of the bill and do some comparative research. Either way, you want this once in a lifetime work done correctly and if your mom and dad selected this accountant and attorney while they were living they were trusted professionals.

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That is very high! Maybe $10k at the most

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What is the fee range for completing Personal Property Tax returns, please?

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