Surge Pricing: Is It Right for Tax and Accounting Firms | CPA Practice Advisor

Surge pricing: Some call it price gouging, others call it the price of convenience. Still others just call it supply and demand.

If you’ve used Uber or one of its competitors in a large city, particularly during peak traffic hours or during special events, you’ve likely paid what is known as surge pricing. But Uber is far from the only example. Your electric company likely does it, and so does Disney World. While they openly call it surge pricing, the concept has been around for decades.

Restaurants generally charge more for what are often the same dinner entrees than they charge for less for during the lunch time frame. Hotels charge more when there’s a convention in town. Movie tickets cost more for the evening screenings. And Broadway has long charged less for matinees and Sunday shows, which means they charge more for shows during peak demand.

Surge Pricing for Tax Preparation

What is new is that the concept is starting to appear in other service-based professions and industries. National tax preparation firms such as H&R Block and do-it-yourself tax systems like TurboTax and TaxAct have followed suit, charging less for early filers, when there is less demand, and more as the tax deadline nears.

“Because they’ve waited until the last minute, they’re less patient,” said Lance Dunn, a cofounder of TaxAct. This makes those taxpayers willing to pay more, he said. They’ve “got the panic button fully pressed.”

Later in the tax season, individual taxpayers can expect to pay 30 percent or more for their taxes through these services.

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Surge Pricing: Is It Right for Tax and Accounting Firms.