What included in tax service fees?
Usually tax service companies will tell you that tax service fees will depend on your particular situation, but they have their minimum and maximum charges (not always). This range might give you some ideas whether you can afford their tax services before even jumpstart the return. Usually you will be charged per each document they need to enter or work with in their system and time spent on the return. On one hand, it is understandable that a tax preparer have to work with people who want to itemize longer sometimes it might take even a few hours depending on complexity of the return. On the other hand, in order to save some money it is better to ask all your questions before a tax professional begin your return and then after everything is done enjoy the conversation with the tax pro if you like to talk and there is no line in the office.
In addition, other fees may apply if they need to put your return on hold and then reopen it later. Some tax service companies might charge you for any other documents that you bring after they sent your tax return trough. For example, you brought to them one W-2 and in a week or so you got another one and need to add it to your return. Tax service companies may charge you some additional fees only if they need to resend the return because of your fault, but if they made a mistake then they must do it for free.
Hidden tax service fees
Sometimes you can see advertisements that tax service companies offer to prepare free 1040 EZ. Unfortunately in only very rare cases you can do something really for free because everyone wants to get paid. Therefore, it is better to ask whether there are any other hidden tax fees with such free offer. For example, they might say that only federal portion of the return is free and you need to pay for the state portion or the return is free, but you have to pay for e-filing.
Can tax service fees be negotiated?
Yes. You can ask them for a discount and they will probably give you a very good deal especially if you are not getting any refund or owe to the IRS. That way you need to pay upfront which give you a chance to do a counter offer and name your price that you believe is fair to pay for their services. They might agree to that or not depending on their price polices. For example, some tax professionals are not allowed to reduce tax fees too much and give more than $50 off, but not always.
Can your tax service fees be taken out from your refund?
Many tax service companies will offer you an assisted refund which means that you won’t pay anything upfront but the fees will be withdrawn from the expected refund. However, this service is not for free and can be quite expensive. Therefore, it is better to pay upfront if possible especially if you have relatively simple tax return and your fees are less than $100. Be aware that if the IRS does not release your refund for any reason and the tax service company won't get their fees, you will still be obligated to pay them the agreed amount.