Tax Preparer Charges $250 For Services I Could Have Gotten For Free

Dustin provided a case study in why it’s a good idea to attempt to do your taxes on your own before shelling out money for professional help. And at that point, it’s smart to get an estimate about how much services will cost. After going through an hour of hassle and spending $250, he discovered he could have saved himself time and money by going it alone.

He writes:

Like many Americans 2010 was a bad year for me. I lost my Job and had to go on unemployment, and I am also a full time student. After I lost my job I chose to take my 401K distribution as I wanted to wait as long as possible before having to apply for unemployment. When I sat down to do my taxes I had 4 different forms to enter, one W-2, a form for my 401(k) distribution, one for school, and one for unemployment. I went to H&R block’s website and tried to enter the information as best I could and realized I was getting a pretty good sum back from Federal.

Since this is the first time I have had this many forms, and I had never gotten this much back from taxes I decided to set up an appointment with one of H&R Block’s “Tax Specialists” just to make sure it was correct. The first sign of trouble was that I was having to correct my rep multiple times, as she didn’t seem to be reading my forms correctly. H&R block has a shady practice of telling you how much you have to pay them right after you finish inputting information about your state taxes, so when we got to that part I thought she was telling me how much state tax I owe. The amount didn’t seem weird because I have always had to pay Arizona money on my taxes.

After this she asked if I wanted to pay by check or have it deducted from my Federal refund, which I said check (still thinking we were talking about my state tax). After realizing she had submitted my taxes I asked how much her services were going to cost. I was dumbfounded to hear her tell me it would be $211, considering I had helped her fill out a lot of the form myself. I told her I don’t have $211 (being that I am still unemployed) and I would rather file online, since I got the same results on my own for free, to which she replied “I’ve already submitted your taxes, it cannot be canceled.” We ended up setting it so that they would deduct their fees from my federal return which they charged me an extra $39 to do. All in all, I ended up paying $250 to spend an hour of my time doing something I could have done online for free. It wasn’t until after everything was said and done that I remembered H&R Block’s satisfaction guarantee that you will be satisfied or you don’t pay. Well, I told her I was unsatisfied but apparently I still had to pay.

What’s the most you’ve spent to do your taxes?

Previously: How To Get Free Tax-Prep Help