The fastest you can get your IRS refund is 10-14 business days (by e-filing with direct deposit). The term "rapid refund" refers to a RAL (refund anticipation loan). This isn't really your refund; it's a loan using your refund as collateral. This type of loan can cost you anywhere from $40 to $140 plus the cost of the tax preparation fee. I not offer refund anticipation loans, as I feel they are rip-offs! I would advise any taxpayer to wait the extra two weeks for their refund and save their hard-earned cash.
A good portion of the tax preparation industry is centered around the refund anticipation loans. I think it's pretty obvious who makes their money off of this product.
Don't be fooled by the words "rapid refund", "fast cash", or "refunds in minutes". These are all just refund anticipation loans. No preparer or company can get your refund back any faster than any other.
At the last firm I worked for, they charged by the form. It didn't matter how long the return took to prepare. A simple W-2 return would cost much less than an itemized return with the earned income credit, even if they took the same amount of time. I understand many tax preparers charge this way.
I decided to charge by the amount of prep time and difficulty of the return. Certain forms only take a keystroke to add to the return: I do not charge for these. Here's a rough breakdown of my billing structure:
1. Base price : $40 - for W-2 filers; includes federal and one state
2. Itemized Deduction Returns: $50-$75
3. Earned Income Credit Returns: $50-$75
4. Self-Employed Individuals or rental property: $100-125
E-filing is free. I do not charge extra for the additional child tax credit, the Hope or Lifetime credits, extra 1099s or W-2s, etc.
Of course, price can differ by each return. The above is just a guideline. If requested, I will give a firm quote before starting your taxes.