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I'm with Rose and Ira. I do some of both.

Often, I'll crunch the numbers and send the clients off with a finished tax return. Sometimes, we'll find something missing and they'll have to get back to me. I am able to mostly carry on a conversation while inputting the numbers, so hopefully it isn't too painful to sit there.

I prefer to touch the work as few times as possible. Every time you set it aside and pick it up again later, it takes a while to get your head back around the return. And that is an ineffeciency that either makes the return more expensive than it should be, or costs me in time I can't bill to the client.

I also have some clients who just can't sit still long enough to do anything. They just want to drop off their stuff and run. For them, I'll make a quick pass through the info they provided to look for obvious missing info or things that need further explanation, then send them on their way.

In terms of overall efficiency, I prefer to have the client there while I input the numbers and just get the return done. For most folks, I can get them in and out in about an hour. That's enough time to handle a basic return with itemized deductions and a well-organized schedule C or E.

Another model I've heard about but never seen is one more like a doctor's office. The client goes into an interview room and meets first with a paraprofessional who takes care of much of the basic work - address changes, W-2s, interest and dividends, itemized deductions, things like that. Then they leave and let the preparer come in to finish the interview and the return. The preparer gets all of the technical questions (is this person really a dependent?) and reviews the work of the paraprofessional. If everything is in order, they finish up the return and send the client back out to the waiting room while a secretary assembles the return and collects the fee.

Has anyone been in that kind of setting? Either as a client or a tax preparer?

--Peter
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