top of page

Who needs professional tax preparation services, and what can you expect from our firm?


Woman shakes hands with man during professional meeting with two women and one man

When is using a tax professional recommended?

If you have a simple return with just a W-2, you may not need a tax professional to help you with your tax return, but you may want to, which is why we start our fees at $300. Here are some reasons why you may want to seek professional help:


  • You don't want to accidentally miss something doing it yourself

  • Taxes are scary, and filing is confusing, so you want help

  • If you know in the future, your tax situation may get more complicated, and you want to continue building a relationship with a professional

  • Convenience. Sometimes, it is easier to pay a professional to do something, even if you can do it yourself, just because you don't want to, and there is nothing wrong with that.

 

What are some common experiences you might have while working with a professional tax preparation company?

While each firm is different, and there are very few things that are required when working with a professional, here are some common things you will find, starting with what is required:

  • What is required:

    • Your (paid) professional is required to include their name or the name of their firm on your tax return along with a preparer tax identification number/PTIN (issued by the IRS)

    • Your (paid) professional is required to sign the completed tax return

    • Your professional is required to have a data security plan

    • Official copy of fingerprints (if e-filing)

  • Other common experiences:

    • Using a secure portal or secure data transfer service

    • Having clients/customers complete tax organizers

    • Cost likely higher than self-preparing or using a big box firm*

 

Please note that a tax preparer is not required to be a CPA, EA, or attorney, but they could have other credentials or none at all. Some states require that a tax professional be credentialed (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New York, and Oregon)


*When you work with a professional, you typically pay for their experience and expertise. While most services require some data entry, that isn't typically what you are paying for. When you are looking for a professional, keep that in mind. There are several things licensed professionals do to help maintain their expertise; as each firm has its own practices, we have included the minimum continuing education requirements for each type of professional below:

 

EA/Enrolled Agent – licensed by the IRS: 72 hours every 3 years with a minimum of 16 hours per year. Of that, they are required to take 2 hours of Federal Tax Ethics annually and a total of 6 hours per 3-year renewal.


CPA/Certified Public Accountants – licensed by their state (California specifically): 80 hours every 2 years with a minimum of 20 hours per year. Of that, we are required to have at least 40 hours in technical subject matter and 4 hours of ethics. Depending on the CPA, you may also be required to take 4 hours of fraud. We are also required to take a regulatory review course (which provides information on the provisions of the current Accountancy Act and California Code of Regulations as they pertain to the practice of public accountancy)


Attorneys – licensed by their state (California specifically): 25 hours every 3 years. Of that, they are required to take 4 hours of legal ethics.


CRTP/CTEC registered tax preparer (California designation): As new licensees, they are required to do 60 hours broken down as 43 hours federal, 15 hours California, and 2 hours of ethics. Upon each subsequent annual renewal, they are then required to do 20 hours broken down as 10 hours federal, 5 hours California, 3 hours tax law updates, and 2 hours of ethics.


Over a 6-year period, CPAs will have taken more required education, EAs second, and attorneys last. Each of the above designations will have taken 12 hours of ethics, except attorneys, who will have been required to take only 8.



 

 

What will working with our firm look like?

 

Potential clients and onboarding:

  1. Most clients are asked to complete a pre-booking questionnaire, which helps us gather some information.

  2. If you are able to complete step 1, then your appointment request will be approved.

  3. Most clients start with an initial consultation. We will discuss some of the questionnaire responses and pricing (if possible) and determine if we are a good fit.

  4. If we both decide to move forward, you will then be onboarded. This process works a bit differently depending on what type of client you are, and we ask for a lot of information.

    1. It is rare, but sometimes, after receiving your additional information, it may be determined that we will not be the best fit, and we will let you know before continuing with onboarding.

    2. We will ask you to review and sign 3+ documents; depending on what type of client you are, it could be more or less.

  5. We can get to work once you are onboarded and have everything signed.

 

Tax time:

  1. Tax season starts mid-January, and you will receive a tax season kickoff email with information specific to tax season. You will also receive the following through our secure portal:

    1. Access to your tax organizer(s)

    2. Access to the folders for the tax year

    3. Retainer (only if you are not on a Tax Advisor Plan)

  2. You will have until a month before your tax deadline to provide the necessary documents and complete your organizer. All documents are uploaded to your organizer in specific sections.

  3. When you have submitted everything and are ready to go, we ask that you pay your retainer, which allows your return to be added to our queue.

  4. You will get a notification once we are ready to work on your return.

  5. We work our magic and then send over your drafted return for you to review, as well as a final invoice (only if you are not on a Tax Advisor Plan)

    1. We will send you a message in the portal if we have questions

    2. We ask that your invoice be paid when received

    3. Your e-file forms or copy of your return to mail become available once your invoice has been paid

    4. If you add the video review, you will also receive a link to view the video.

  6. Next, you will need to review and approve your return and, if applicable, sign your e-file forms.

    1. If you are doing a tax return review, this is when you would schedule the meeting.

    2. Alternatively, you can review your return yourself, and if you have easy-to-answer questions, you can send those via the portal.

    3. If you need to mail any returns, you will need to print and sign where indicated. We provide a separate file that includes mailing instructions and all items that need to be printed.

  7. If your return is being e-filed, we will wait (typically one business day) to e-file your return(s)

  8. If your return was e-filed, we will save an acceptance letter, which is helpful if you want to track your refunds via the taxing agencies' websites.


As you go through the various steps, you will receive updates. You can also see the status of your return in the portal.


If you have not completed a tax organizer and want a sample, click here. Our interactive organizers are sent to you via our secure portal.

 

Bookkeeping:

Bookkeeping looks a bit different depending on what type of client you are, but most follow the pattern below:

  1. Around the 9th of the month, you will receive a portal message requesting documents from you.

    1. If this is the first month you are receiving bookkeeping for the year, you will also receive access to your monthly folders

  2. Once you have completed all of the tasks, your bookkeeping is added to the schedule

  3. We will send you any questions via the portal

  4. Once your books are completed, you will have access to the following:

    1. Your bank reconciliations

    2. Your monthly financials

  5. You can schedule your financial statement review meeting


Bookkeeping is typically charged monthly, and you are billed in advance, so the payment that comes out on the 1st of the month is for that month.

 

Discontinuing services:

There may be an occasion when life or something else happens, and either you or we decide it does not make sense to continue. When that happens, it is helpful to know what that process looks like:


If you decide to discontinue services, we ask that you let us know, but before then, here are some things you should do:

  • Download any documents we have provided you; these could be tax returns or other documents.

  • If you are on a fixed plan, be prepared to pay off the balance of your plan (you can calculate this by looking at your monthly payment amount and multiplying it by the number of months that have passed, then subtract this from the total cost of your plan)


Once you inform us that you will no longer be a client, we will send you a disengagement letter and remove your portal access. If you have a balance due, the disengagement letter will specify the amount, and you will receive a payment link or can pay via Zelle, PayPal, or Venmo.


If we decide that we cannot continue providing services to you, the following will occur:

  • We will send you a disengagement letter detailing when your portal access will expire and any balance due.

  • Your portal access will expire (typically one week later)

  • If you have a balance due, you will also receive an invoice; this does not typically apply to those on a fixed plan

 


 

Resources


CA Board of Accountancy (CA CPAs only): License Lookup

CTEC/California Tax Education Council (CA CRTPs): Find/Verify a Tax Preparer


To verify the Status of an Enrolled Agent:

You may email requests for enrolled agent status verification directly to epp@irs.gov. You will want to include the following information in your request:


First and Last Name

Complete Address (if available)

Enrolled Agent Number (if available)

Please provide as much information as possible to reduce the likelihood of a verification error.





0 views

Comentarios


bottom of page