Study: S.C. 13th in getting tax help [Aiken Standard, S.C. :: ]
(Aiken Standard (SC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 12--A recent study ranked South Carolina as the 13th best state for finding tax help.
A study from WalletHub -- a finance resource group launched by Evolution Finance -- conducted a recent study on the best and worst states for finding help with taxes.
North Dakota and South Dakota took home the first two spots and further on down the list, South Carolina tied with Kansas for the 13th spot.
By the numbers
According to the study, over 2.6 million people made errors on their tax returns in 2012, which is why people branch out to get help.
"But much like tax rates themselves, the accessibility, affordability and effectiveness of tax help differs significantly from state to state," researchers wrote. "In order to determine where the relative sweet spots happen to be, WalletHub compared the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia in terms of seven key metrics -- ranging from the number of accountants per 1,000 jobs to their average workload and mean hourly compensation."
As a result, South Carolina ranked well in several areas including: fourth in accounting job openings per capita, 15th in percentage of paid returns, 19th in refund amount and 21st in affordability of tax help. Lower rankings include 33rd in accountants per 1,000 jobs and 36th in returns filed per accountants.
"It is fairly safe to say, that if a South Carolinian needs or wants help with preparing and filing their tax returns, they will have plenty of accessible and effective resources to turn to," said Liana Arnold communications director with WalletHub.
The Lone Southern state
One of the more interesting parts of the study is the fact that South Carolina finished considerably higher than the rest of the Southern states.
With a 13th place ranking, South Carolina was the first Southern state on the list. The next was Virginia in the 26th spot. North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi all finished in the bottom 10.
When asked about the discrepancy, Arnold said they haven't noticed a correlation between the regions of the country and the tax help that each region has received. However, it is something they may study in the future.
"Contributing factors to the cause of these metrics were not taken into consideration or analysis in this instance, though we may be addressing that for future economically based research and reports," She added.
What local accountants say
Joel Stewart, a CPA with Snyder & Stewart, said the ranking sounds pretty good to him. He added that it's indicative of the different services companies like his provide.
"We're a CPA firm so we're a little different than the cheaper, fast pace places because we're positioned in the market a little differently," he said. "But we are competitive and we try to attract people who move into the Aiken area."
Stewart added that their services include free, initial client meetings, personalized service and meetings before tax season to prepare clients.
"We work to help better position clients so tax season doesn't hit them too late," Stewart said.
Beverly Williams, an enrolled agent with Rhodes-Murphy Income Tax Services, also said the 13th place ranking is good; however, she'd like to see it go up.
"It's not bad but there's always room for improvement," she said. "For us, we strive to do extra research with our work if we're working on an unfamiliar matter. And we try to personalize the experience for whatever the person's needs are. Our mentality is that these are people; not taxpayers."
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.
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