Discussion:Preparers per population

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PDXTaxman (talk|edits) said:

26 November 2013
Short of my laboring for days over 2010 census records and phone books teasing out the numbers, is there any way to figure out to some rough level of accuracy how many tax preparers (CPAs, EAs, and practicing unenrolled preparers formally in business) are in any area relative to the population of that area? Have any organizations (e.g., AICPA, NAEA, etc.) compiled such figures, and if so are they available to non-members? Or if I must compile them myself, anyone have any suggestions for doing it without it becoming the Project of the Century?

I'm considering relocating for family reasons -- would prefer not to, but may have no choice, and my partner can ably carry on without me -- and I'd like to know in advance if I'd be facing less, more, or about the same number of competing tax preparation businesses (per population) as I've lived with here in Portland, OR. I prefer not to mention the state and locality that might end up with my grim visage in its yellow pages, but will say it's a pretty substantial metro area albeit not as large as Portland.

JackTraffic (talk|edits) said:

26 November 2013
Use the census numbers for your area. It doesn't take days. Only a few minutes.

The beauty of this approach is that you'll pretty quickly get an idea about the numbers (and sizes) of firms your locality will support.

Makbo (talk|edits) said:

26 November 2013
Getting population numbers shouldn't be too hard. But "number of preparers" might be quite misleading, as preparers vary quite a bit in terms of number of returns completed and complexity of returns. More useful would be the ratio of total taxpayers to those using paid preparers.

One source is this, albeit a few years out of date:

http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Individual-Income-Tax-Statistics-ZIP-Code-Data-%28SOI%29

"This preliminary file contains data for every U.S. ZIP code for which 250 or more returns were filed. Variables include: number of returns filed, number of joint returns, number of returns by paid preparers,[...]"

I highly doubt you will find any decent-sized metro area where the population is underserved by tax preparers, since there will always be a few H&R Block offices nearby, and part-time preparers with capacity to spare. So no matter where you go, other than small, isolated towns and specialized resort-type communities, you will have to jump in at the margin and build up from there. Your success won't depend on how many other preparers there are, but rather how your service and prices compare to theirs.

PDXTaxman (talk|edits) said:

28 November 2013
Thank you to both responders above.

Makbo, we started here in Portland from scratch a number of years ago, so I've had that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from wondering when income will start outpacing fixed overhead. I agree that no place in this country is under-served in the way of tax prep, but some places -- particularly those that are considered highly desirable -- might well be over-served. That's my worry. So thank you in particular for the IRS link, as it might help me tease that information out a bit. I'll give it a closer look after the holiday.

Gazoo (talk|edits) said:

4 December 2013
Depends where you are. I see opportunity in Juno. The whole business is going mobile and the real money is in customizing vans.

A smart man or woman would lock up a lease next to any Salvation Army clothing store they could find. This is where you'll get the walk-ins.

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