Some people have no problem self-filing their tax return, using either a tax firm website or desktop software. Filing this way can be done for the price of free to less than $100. For others who aren’t comfortable self-filing, there are CPA firms.
If your tax return is a simple individual return, you may end up paying more than $100 for the service. There are a few benefits for the extra cost. In addition to someone preparing and filing your tax return, you also have a person available who can answer your tax questions.
What if you aren’t comfortable self-filing but don’t really have any questions or need to speak with a CPA? For this group, there’s Circle CPA. They are an online, affordable tax return service run by a CPA.
- Pay what you want tax return filing service
- Run by a real CPA
- Must be comfortable with little to no interaction with the CPA
Who Is Circle CPA?
Circle CPA is a certified public accountant firm that does tax returns for individuals. You might wonder what’s so special about that. Here is a question: “Wait, WHAT?! I pay whatever I WANT?!”
That’s the question posed from Circle CPA’s YouTube promo video. Unlike other CPA firms, who usually charge hundreds of dollars, Circle CPA says you can pay them what you think they are worth. Based on the service they provide to you and what you think it is worth, you come up with a dollar amount and pay.
To get an idea about what to pay such a firm, they have a bundle listed on StackSocial that is currently going for $89.10. The bundle includes the following:
- Audit Defense — $250 value
- Tax Prep — $500 value
Obviously, this is very cheap. The person behind Circle CPA is Bradford Fishback, who is a real CPA. He used to run fishbacktax.com, which was started in 2014. It was one of the first CPA firms to operate completely online. Even back then, Bradford was charging very affordable fees. Fishback transitioned to Circle CPA in 2019.
Catherine Fishback also works at Circle CPA in a non-CPA role. They are the only two people listed on the website.
Are They for Real?
Trustpilot shows four out of five stars with seven reviews. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but then again, the company just started this year. There is only one video uploaded on YouTube by Circle CPA.
The website doesn’t list any verifying information. For CPAs, you can always check their license at https://cpaverify.org. Because a state isn’t listed for Circle CPA, use “All States.” The search results show Bradford’s CPA license is registered in Nevada. It was issued on 01-24-2014 and is valid until 12-31-2019. Bradford is a legit CPA.
Circle CPA suffers from lack of marketing. Besides their website and social media, there really isn’t anything out there on them. They are active on social media, but unless you already knew about them, you’re unlikely to find them. Trying to get onto some of the tax return and CPA review sites and writing guest blog posts on popular sites would help with brand recognition.
How Does Circle CPA Work?
To get started, well, click “GET STARTED” at their website. You’ll fill out a form and upload your tax documents to a secure online box.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll get a draft of your return for review within a few days. If you like it, approve the draft and your return is done. Circle CPA will then e-file your return. Finally, pay Circle CPA what you think they are worth.
What they are worth is something you’ll have to determine. Certainly, if you received good service, you don’t want to be cheap about it. A good guideline is to determine the market rate and pay similarly. Thervo, a site where you can hire experts, says the average tax return is $99 to $225. That at least gives you some real numbers.
Who Should Use Circle CPA?
Circle CPA is designed for individual tax returns. One of the ways costs are kept so low is through little interaction with customers. This means tax returns need to be fairly simple.
More complex tax returns will involve more preparation time and customer interaction, making them cost-prohibitive under the current billing model. This also means no business tax returns.
There isn’t a contact form or phone number on the website. You’ll have to be comfortable with email communication or near absent customer service. If all you have is a simple tax return, there shouldn’t be much need for questions.
If you are uncomfortable self-filing your tax return and want to keep the cost low, Circle CPA is a great option. They seem to have average turn-around times and do a good job.
- Ease of Use - 80
- Features and Options - 80
- Customer Service - 100
- Plans and Pricing - 100
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.