According to Accounting Today, the national average cost for tax preparation services ranges from $221-400 depending on how complex the tax return is. This doesn’t take massive regional variances into account, with North Dakota representing the lowest-cost services at a $158 average while Hawaii has the most expensive tax preparation service fees averaging $483 per tax return.
Even within California, tax preparation rates will vary based on location and complexity. The average of tax preparation in Sacramento, CA ranges from $150-$850+, with the average being $325.
Here’s what you need to know about your tax preparation options if you’re seeking tax services in Sacramento.
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Free and Nearly Free Tax Preparation Alternatives
Two major tax software providers, TurboTax, and TaxSlayer, offer free options for taxpayers with very simple tax returns. If your only income is reported on Form W-2 and you don’t have dependents or more advanced deductions (such as mortgage interest), you may be eligible for free tax filing through TurboTax. TaxSlayer’s free edition offers similar features to TurboTax with the same constraints based on your tax filing situation, with both providers offering one state return for free.
If you need multistate tax returns because you moved, you would need to pay an extra fee or opt for a more expensive version of the program if you want to file your taxes yourself.
CreditKarma has the most complex tax filing options available for free. While there are certain tax forms CreditKarma currently doesn’t support, it supports a wider range of credit, deduction, and income reporting than the free versions of TurboTax and TaxSlayer.
For most people, these three providers are the only option for free tax preparation services. However, elderly and/or low-income taxpayers can also receive free tax preparation through IRS-run volunteer income tax assistance sites if your income is below $57,000 for the year.
For everyone else, you’ll need to pay for tax software or a tax professional.
Entry Level Tax Preparation Services in Sacramento, CA
If you don’t want to file your taxes yourself and would like to entrust a tax professional to do them, but don’t think your situation is complex enough to warrant hiring a private accountant or specialized tax firm, tax chains are a popular option.
Well-known tax chains like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt are among the most well-known outfits with several walk-in locations and online options, but there are also online-only franchises like Smart Tax and Happy Tax. Many seasoned tax professionals often start their careers in these entry-level outfits before moving onto specialized tax offices, tax departments of large firms like Deloitte and KPMG, or their own solo practices.
Tax chains frequently have a higher-level tax professional like a CPA or Enrolled Agent supervising entry-level tax preparers, in addition to offering more consistent pricing appropriate for the region. Many offer supplemental services for an additional fee like basic audit support.
Depending on the individual office you visit, you may or may not be able to contact the tax chain year-round if you have questions or issues with your tax filings. However, they tend to be a viable option if you have a more complex tax situation than one job and no dependents, but not complex enough to warrant more sophisticated tax preparation services.
Sophisticated Tax Preparation Services in Roseville, CA
Specialized tax preparation services tend to higher-income taxpayers, business owners, landlords, and other taxpayers who have more complicated tax filing situations than people whose finances are relatively simple. Taxpayers who also expect their taxes to become more complex with time, as many business owners reasonably expect, also gravitate to sophisticated tax preparation services such as Tax Shark and private, independent CPAs and Enrolled Agents.
Complicated tax-filing solutions would include, but are not limited to, owning a business, investing in real estate, significant trading activity and subsequent capital gain income, and having multiple states and/or countries in which you reside or do business. These situations virtually always warrant using a specialized tax service that can provide you with a higher degree of tax law knowledge and specific practice areas than tax software support or chains like H&R Block.
Additionally, specialized tax firms offer year-round support after year-end tax planning and peak tax season have ended. Many also offer tax consulting services, such as business structuring assistance and tax planning for taxpayers with multistate activity.
Tax Shark is a leading tax preparation and representation firm in Sacramento, CA and can prepare complex individual and business tax returns, in addition to providing world-class audit support and representation. Contact us today to speak with one of our tax professionals.