1) Please note that any interaction with my office is subject to a fee. Numerous inquiries come into the office both for tax and non- tax services. Many also come with an extreme urgency driven by the client which distracts us from working on scheduled client projects. Some of the most common requests are for copies of tax returns and interactions with mortgage companies regarding home purchases. In addition, many of these requests are much more complex than clients understand requiring more than a quick response. Therefore, we will track and bill accordingly in the future.
We do provide a portal to clients to access prior year tax returns, have self help calculators on this website, as well as a YouTube Channel Tax Bytes that may allow you to resolve your matters without our assistance.
2) Clients should expect to schedule appointments. While some client requests can be addressed outside of appointments, the vast majority of client interactions require much more time, analysis, and resources to resolve. In addition, the IRS does regulate aspects of our industry and many client requests will be impacted by IRS regulations that we must follow. In any case, just as your doctor or dentist would require an appointment to address a medical issue, we require appointments to address any tax matters as well.
3) Pricing of tax services may include time required to manage client records and follow up. While the pricing for services has many components, we do consider the time and effort related to collecting, sorting, summarizing, and following up with clients, as well as numerous reviews and changes to final workproduct. As tax returns and many other tax services have increased in complexity over the last 15 years, the time devoted to client interaction has significantly increased. Therefore, we may apply an additional charge where significant amount of time is required to obtain, organize, clarify client records as well as finalize any workproduct.
3) We will only collect tax information from you directly. In the past, clients have directed me to contact a broker, financial planner, or some other 3rd party to obtain their tax records. Many of these professionals have limits on what they can disclose to others. This has created delays, confusion, and at times incorrect information. While others may provide your information to us, we will not contact other 3rd parties to collect your information.
4) Reviews of tax returns by outside parties may incur a fee. While clients are able to have their return reviewed by a third party, such as their financial planner, we will charge for this going forward. Most inquiries arising from this process are typically due to the third party not having sufficient tax knowledge. Also, our experience has been that no significant tax opportunities are identified.
5) Filing of extensions and amending returns may be subject to an additional fee. The value in filing an extension really cannot be overstated. The penalties for filing late can be rather steep and largely misunderstood by clients. Also, more and more clients are waiting until the last 4 weeks of tax season to provide documentation to file their returns. This puts us under great strain to meet client needs and clients at risk of late filing penalties. So the increase in penalities and value in filing an extension for clients has grown over the last 5 or more years. So we may charge for extending your tax return.
6) Do Not Provide Original documents. Due to increasing identify theft with tax information, we are very hesitant to hold paper documents. To better secure your information we scan your documents and shred any paper copies. Providing original documents puts them at risk of accidental shredding as well as being misplaced. So do not provide original documents and if we receive them, you accept the risk of loss and/or additional fees to hold them or return them.
7) Resolving IRS inquiries for returns we have prepared may incur a fee. There is an increasing trend for the IRS to identify unreported income on taxpayers’ returns. The most common issues causing this are HSA withdrawals, state tax refunds, early IRA withdrawals, and investment income. Historically, these documents are not provided by the client to be included on the return, creating the IRS notice. So resolution of these issues, when not my error, may be subject to a fee. Using our annual tax season tools, such as our checklists will help minimize such issues.
8) Filing of State Tax Returns If you need us to file a state tax return, including an extension, you will need to formally notify us. Clients should not rely on a tax document that innocuously details state related taxing implications as a notification to us that a state tax return is needed. Explicit instructions that a state tax return needs to be filed is require. This will include Texas Franchise Tax Returns as well. Additional fees may be assessed for state tax returns as well.
9) Payment of the invoice and any outstanding balances owed are due prior to filing the tax return. This avoids unnecessary time and resources spent pursuing unpaid fees and allows time to be allocated to client projects.
10) Communications with this office should include your name, phone number, email address, and sufficient details to prioritize your inquiry. Follow up on client inquiries are prioritized and where possible delegated. Many inquiries are "Sean, please call me back" and difficult to prioritize. Providing more details allows me to research your file or other resources, delegate to my office administrator, or request an appointment. This allows time to be more efficiently allocated to client projects.