As of November 16, 2017
Our goal is to provide high quality tax and business advice and services to our clients in a way that will be profitable to both parties. In line with this goal, we try to be available to our clients for brief, infrequent phone conversations on a no-charge basis. We would rather have a client call with a quick question and get something right, instead of not making that call because the client is concerned that there will be a charge. We also recognize that there are certain times when there will be a higher number of phone calls, such as when a client is new to the firm, when a client is starting a business, or filling out one’s personal income tax organizer. We try to take these types of cases into account when we determine whether or not these types of services are subject to charge.
With the above paragraph in mind, we also want our clients to realize that we earn our income by selling time and knowledge. At some point, we have to charge for the time we spend and the knowledge we impart. If questions approach the ten to fifteen minute range, require us to produce correspondence, require us to do research, are of an unusual or complicated nature, or result in some sort of report or plan, we must bill for the work. If a series of questions on the same related topic are asked, we will usually charge for that series of questions. Our billing for preparation of all income tax returns includes the fees for the tax preparation only. If you receive a notice from a taxing authority, we are happy to assist in resolving the issues regarding the notice, though unless the notice is due to our fault, the work is billed separately from the tax preparation and is not included in the tax preparation fee.
Many of our charges are based on the time directly spent on the service. Some services are charged on a quoted or fixed fee basis. Gross out-of-pocket costs are passed directly through to the client. We are willing to specifically tell you, when asked, if a service is chargeable. If you are unsure, please ask. If we think that there is some doubt, we may raise the fee issue ourselves; otherwise, the primary responsibility to inquire about fees must remain with the client. We are always willing to discuss fees with you before the service is performed. It is far better to work out fees before the work is done while everyone has choices.
We will give you our best estimate of what we think the charges will be when practical. If we cannot give you a specific amount, we will try to give you a range. However, for some services, we cannot give an accurate estimate because we do not know how much time it will take to perform or do not have enough information at hand. In those cases where a client is concerned about fees and requests, we will be happy to provide ongoing updates as to the fees incurred.
We have been experiencing an increasing issue with client information arriving just before a tax deadline and of needing a rush turnaround that is less than our normal turnaround time for tax preparation for reasons other than a tax filing deadline. This is especially true for the initial personal tax deadline and the final extended business and personal tax filing deadlines (April/September/October). We have experienced a flood of tax information brought in to us within the last fifteen days before a tax return due date, and though we usually have been able to complete the tax returns, we are uncomfortable with the amount of overtime required to adequately perform the work to our standards and the quality of some backup information we have to rely on because of the tight deadlines. In an effort to encourage our clients to provide us with financial and tax information in a timely manner, we have instituted a rush fee billing policy. This means that clients providing us with the bulk of their information within fifteen days of a filing deadline or requested date and wanting returns to be completed by that date will face an additional charge of up to 20% for the preparation of their tax returns. This also applies for returns where substantial work has to be completed on the returns in order to estimate the amounts needed to be paid with extensions. This does not include returns where the bulk of the information that is within your control is brought to us before the fifteen day deadline and the only missing items are such things as brokerage 1099s and K-1s that have not been issued by the fifteen day deadline. If you bring your tax or other work to us within fifteen days of the original non-extended due date or requested date and don’t expect us to perform substantial work on your returns until after extensions are filed, the 20% additional charge will not apply. We have been reluctant to institute this policy, but we feel we have to in order to control costs, maintain our level of service, and to further ensure that we produce a quality product. We appreciate your business and take great pride in fostering a long and mutually prosperous relationship.
Record Retention and Privacy Policies
As of November 16, 2017
As long as you remain a client, it is our policy to maintain sufficient records (whether hardcopy or electronic) to reflect services performed by and substantive information provided to us for at least six years after we complete such services. Records for these purposes means copies of your tax returns, our internal work papers, other miscellaneous documents, including correspondence and copies of client documents we deem relevant, and revenue notice copies supplied to us. This does not replace the legal requirement for you to maintain these same tax records.
E-mailing and faxing financial and tax return support documentation or answers to questions we have, in order to complete your work, have become standard ways to communicate in recent years. Although our retaining copies of some of your supporting records are a convenience, please remember that we are not necessarily receiving all of the backup documentation to support the numbers shown on the work we do for you. Therefore it is even more important, and it remains your responsibility, to maintain the records supporting the numbers shown on your income tax returns that you are required by law to keep.
If you cease to be a client, we reserve the right, without further notice, to dispose of any copies of records in our possession. If you desire, we will supply you with record retention guidelines from the Internal Revenue Service.
We retain copies of records only. All original documents are returned to you when work has been completed on a project.
The Internal Revenue Service requires written permission from any client prior to us being able to disclose any income tax return information to a third party. Verbal permission is not acceptable. Unfortunately, the permission cannot be blanket permission with no time limit. The content and format of the permission form is specified by the Internal Revenue Service and we cannot deviate from those requirements. In the case of multi-owner businesses or joint returns, the permission of one of the officers, owners, or taxpayers is sufficient for us to release information.
All of the documents and records we maintain relating to our clients are the property of Wheeler & Associates, PC, to the extent it is consistent with applicable law. The documents and records relating to our clients are confidential and may not be disclosed without express written permission from the client or unless required by law.
When the law requires us to release information, such as a subpoena, etc., we will make reasonable efforts, within applicable laws, to notify you prior to release. Beyond that, we reserve the right to confirm whether or not you are a client, the general type of work that we do for you and the status of your payment history to us.
We will not release or sell any information, such as telephone numbers or addresses to any third parties, other than for our own direct marketing, business operation purposes, or legal reasons, without your permission. This policy applies to both current and former clients.