Fees and Policies
Payment is due at the time that services are rendered. Kindly note that although our policy regarding fee payments due when services are rendered has consistently been our policy, we have always been extremely flexible as a means of accommodating our clients and intend to maintain this policy. Unfortunately the actions of a few affect all and because of our unusually high receivable balance we are forced to implement a NEW policy. Effective January 25, 2018, any invoice that is more than 30 days past due for which an approved payment schedule is not in effect will be subject to a 10% late payment surcharge for every 30 days past due. After 90 days the invoice may be referred to a collection agency who may add to the balance their fee and costs of collection including attorney, legal and court fees.
Our hourly rates for tax services vary depending on the nature of services provided, the level of expertise and actual time required to complete the project. Fees range from $275 to $450 per hour. We often extend courtesy discounts to clients with long term recurring engagements (“volume discounts” as well as client referral discounts. It should be noted that although we are available to assist with basic income tax preparation services, time permitting, we primarily specialize with regard to U.S. international as well as medium to large corporate research, planning and compliance.
International and Business Tax Services: up to $450 per hour
As a result of increased complexity of US international tax legislation and IRS enforcement to close the international tax gap, combined with increasing costs associated with training and general overhead we have been forced to reconsider our billing rates for the first time in several years.
Our fees are based on the level of complexity of the tax issues and the time required completing the project or tax return. We do not charge by the form or offer contingency fees based on results or a percentage of refunds. Fees are due at the time that services are performed* and for projects that are expected to take more than two hours, a retainer is often required prior to doing any work.
Basic tax returns for U.S. expatriate and foreign national individuals working in the U.S. who have only compensation income and minimal investment income usually average between $1,000-$2,500. More complex returns, including those with numerous stock sale and investment transactions require additional time. Newly enacted tax legislation under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) have far reaching consequences as the IRS now is partnering with other countries and their financial institutions. The threshold for filing ranges from aggregate account balances ranging from $50,000 to $400,000 depending on facts and circumstances. The IRS has also recently enacted their latest and FINAL voluntary compliance initiative now requires that foreign bank account reports (FBARS) and numerous other unfiled information reports be filed for the prior 9 years including the most recent filing period. Although the penalties for non compliance is severe, our fee for past due FBARS can be as little as $200 per year.
There is a minimum fee of $2,500 for all corporate or partnership tax returns (including the state return), plus reimbursement of out of pocket expenses for any special tax software or other extraordinary expenses, although the fee for corporate consolidated/combined returns with multiple subsidiaries or multistate returns would be significantly greater. Our out of pocket fees for licensing of specialty software for business and estate returns usually starts at $120 and depends on the complexity of the return.
Maintaining good organized records helps to minimize fees. Often first time international clients, especially returns for the first or last year of their international move, require additional time
Domestic Individual Tax Services: up to $325 per hour
A basic itemized return will usually run between $425 and $600, depending on the volume of information that is required to be reported on the tax return. Of course certain returns require significantly less expertise and require less information to report, thus the fee would reflect those factors. More sophisticated returns with voluminous information, including numerous investment or stock sale transactions can be substantially higher.
* Major credit cards are accepted and arrangements can be made for clients to authorize in advance ACH payments from their accounts at a future date, usually on the date that a tax refund is directly deposited to their bank account. It is prohibited by law for any tax preparer to negotiate tax refund checks, including having clients instruct that a portion of their refund be deposited to their tax preparers bank account.
In certain circumstances discounts are available and often fees are waived during the initial interview phase as we gather information from new clients to ensure that they fit our client profile and they get to know us. During this process information is exchanged but without being formally retained we cannot give specific tax advice. The initial get to know you phase usually requires 15 minutes of face to face or telephone interview time or an exchange of 2-3 brief emails. Discounts are also usually extended to parents who request that we prepare their childrens income tax returns.
People often ask what we would charge for a basic tax return. This is often difficult as what a non tax person considers basic may involve additional time based on discovery of information gained during the due diligence phase or once we receive actual information.
Our Client Policies and Profile Criteria
A word concerning our client profile criteria. We will not accept verbal instructions to include deductions the same as last year. Clients are provided a basic tax organizer intended to assist them to gather the information that needs to be reported on their tax returns. This organizer includes a statement that must be signed by every client attesting to the accuracy of the information provided, either verbally or in writing, and that they have included all items of income received during the year and that to the best of their knowledge is accurate and complete.
If during the interview process it is indicated that they earn money or that they pay business help off the books we will refuse to accept them as a client even though afterwards they may indicate that they want to report these transactions. Additionally we may have other reasons for questioning their integrity or determining that they do not meet our client profile. Although we may refuse to accept them as a client, a consultation fee will be due for the entire interview time and any documents provided will be withheld until such time as the fee is paid. This policy is intended to discourage those either shopping for free information or finding someone willing to assist them to circumvent tax laws or mislead lending or other institutions.
Privacy and Confidentiality:
Please dont ask us to discuss your tax return or release copies of personal documents to anyone, including potential lenders. Every client is provided with copies of our work including tax returns prepared by us and original documents are returned. Although we are required to maintain copies of certain documents including copies of tax returns in our files, it is your responsibility to keep your documents safe should you need these in the future and we cannot release any information in our files to (or discuss such information with) a third party, even with your permission.
Tax Audits and Tax Authority Inquires:
It is our policy that we be named as an authorized third party designee for all tax returns that we prepare. This gives the IRS and state tax authorities permission to discuss your tax return with us and for us to assist in any examination. Prior to discussing anything with the tax authorities you will be notified. In the unlikely event that the issue concerns an error that we may have made we will not charge for our time. However, if the return is being examined for compliance or missing information that was not provided by you at the time that we prepared the tax return, our time willed be billed at an hourly rate based on the nature of tax at issue and often an engagement letter and retainer may be required. Should a penalty result from an error that we made, we will reimburse the penalty amount.
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