How Do I get started?
Telephone me. We will discuss your tax return and I will give you an estimate of the cost. The next step is to set up a face-to-face meeting. Before that, you may wish to upload your prior year tax return to my secure portal so I can review it before we meet. Let me know if you would like to do this. I can also send you my engagement letter and a tax organizer via the portal, prior to our meeting.
What do I need to gather before the meeting?
Make sure you have the following ready:
- Drivers licenses for each taxpayer;
- Social Security Cards for each person on the tax return;
- Your prior year return. Sometimes it is helpful to see older returns, so you may want to have them easily accessible;
- All information necessary to prepare your return;
- Other information necessary to allow me to carry out IRS-mandated due diligence. I will discuss that with you before the meeting.
I’ve lost my social security card. You don’t really need to see it, right?
Wrong, I’m afraid. Ethical tax professionals have a duty to ensure that they are not helping someone to prepare a fraudulent return with a stolen identity. It’s nothing personal, which is why I require it of all new clients.
My driver’s license and social security card could be used to steal my identity!
That is true. However, federally authorized tax practitioners, including Enrolled Agents, are required to adhere to the strictest of information security protocols. I maintain a Written Information Security Plan. I have always had strict physical, electronic and procedural safeguards in place. You have a choice in the tax professional you engage. I make security of your personal information my top priority.
What happens at the meeting?
I will make sure I have all the information necessary to prepare your return. (I may need to ask you more questions as I work through it.) If, at the meeting, you give me all the information I need to prepare your return, the quote I give you will be a firm quote. If I take longer to prepare a return, that is my problem, not yours. If more information is required, the additional time spent will be reflected in the fee.
During the meeting, I am also happy to explore basic strategies to keep more of the money you earn.
Will you prepare my return in front of me?
No. I will take your information away and take my time in preparing an accurate return for you. Once I finish a return, I will put it aside and check my work the next day. If you want a return done within a day or two, you need another tax professional.
You ask a lot of personal questions. Why?
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I need to get to know you so that I can figure out ways to reduce your tax. Secondly, the IRS insists that I carry out due diligence in several areas before presenting the return to you. Doing this avoids a $530 penalty for me and possible loss of certain credits for you. If you lose the right to claim Earned Income Credit for ten years, that can easily be over $50,000 – money that can help support your family.
When do I pay you?
I get asked that a lot. Would you go to a grocery store that charges you a deposit as you walk in the door? I wouldn’t. I simply expect full payment when I present the return to you for approval and signature. No later and certainly no earlier.
Can I pay you from my refund?
Sorry, no. Some banks offer this service to tax professionals, but it costs money to offer it. I prefer to keep my fees low and avoid costs that benefit neither of us. If you need your refund to pay my fee, we should talk about how much you have withheld from your wages throughout the year. A large refund sometimes indicates that you are giving an interest-free loan to the IRS.
Can I just e-mail you my tax information?
No. I take great care to protect your personal information. There are three ways to get your information to me: stop by my office; send it via US Postal Service or use my secure portal. Just let me know which e-mail address you wish to be attached to your account.
How much is all this going to cost?
My pricing is here. Remember, the quote I give you at the initial meeting is a firm quote, as long as you give me all your information at that time. There will be no nasty surprises for you when you sign the return.