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Am I wrong about this? Is everyone who uses a tax preparer paying a surcharge for the Affordable Care Act?

I can see a bit of the preparer's point of view, but I agree more with yours.

The assistant's 8 hour class probably cost around $300. He should have taken a similar course, too. If it cost more, the preparer was not watching his costs very well. Besides, there's always something changing in taxes and always a need to take classes to keep up with the changes.

I can see the need to have some worksheets to deal with the ACA. But you don't have to develop those worksheets yourself. That class the assistant took likely had some sample worksheets that shouldn't have taken more than an hour or two to automate. In my case, my tax software came with some worksheets that are adequate for the bulk of my client's needs.

In the end, I'd look at the total bill rather than the details of the charges. If the bill is about the same as last year (or up by 5% or so), I wouldn't sweat it. It's just marketing garbage in an attempt to justify a fee. However if the total bill is up $100 and the only explanation is this ACA surcharge, I'd say it's time to shop for another preparer.

In my case, I increased fees by about 5% this year. I figured 3%-4% is due to general inflation and the balance is for some bit of increased complexity.

--Peter
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