This is our current engagement letter that outlines our services and our responsibilities when preparing your tax returns. Why is it posted on our web site?
It’s on our web site because the current version is over 4 pages long and it grows each year. So, rather than printing reams of paper (and killing the trees needlessly) and spending hundreds of dollars in postage to mail to clients who do not want to read it (and driving up fees needlessly) , we offer it here for anyone who wants to know. It’s in a .PDF format so you can download our Engagement Letter here.
In addition, we have created a one-page summary of the full letter that we have posted on this page. It highlights the areas covered by the full letter, but it lacks much of the dreary, boring, and technical details that most people want to by-pass until they are ready to sit and read it intentionally.
Why is our engagement letter so long? Well, there are several reasons for its development –which used to be two paragraphs when we first opened during the last century. (We opened in 1989 and have never looked back because it was the best decision we ever made.)
First, the engagement outlines what we do, our responsibilities, and client duties (provide information, sign the return, etc.) Next, it covers some of the more ominous IRS rules that may affect many clients without their knowledge (reporting foreign accounts, reporting tax planning rules that have been declared “tax shelters,” etc.) Finally, it covers areas that insurance companies have told us should be in the engagement letter. (Example: our services end when the tax return is completed.) When all of these “requirements” are added, the engagement letter exceeds four pages. (Yes, we can make the font smaller to fit it on one page – front and back- but no one could read it without a microscope.)
So, click on the link above for the full Engagement Letter or read below for the summary of the letter’s contents
SHORT SCOPE OF SERVICES
Please refer to the full Engagement Letter for Details.
- We prepare only the returns you request if that form appears to be appropriate for your circumstances.
- The engagement ends when the return is completed.
- We use information you provide to prepare your return. While we may use copies, summaries or verbal information, the IRS requires original documents in an audit. We ask that you send us any tax documents received from third parties (Banks, Health Insurance, Investments, Retirement, Employer W-2, Social Security, etc.)
- Ultimately, you are responsible for your tax returns.
- When possible, we use last year’s information (name, filing status, etc.) for this year’s return. Please alert us to any changes.
- You must describe “Reportable Transactions” (tax shelters and non-conforming tax planning strategies) on your return. Please tell us if you think you are involved in anything like this.
- You must report all income, including foreign accounts and income from foreign sources.
- For liability reasons, we cannot send copies of your return to anyone but you. (Please note that we will send copies to you upon request.)
- For liability reasons, we do not provide Letters to Bankers about your return. If you absolutely need such a letter, please call.
- Fees are due and payable when the return is complete.
- The IRS pays special attention to some areas of deductions and contributions, Please verify that you have receipts for all charitable contributions and that you document business deductions for auto mileage, meals, and travel, etc.
As always, please call us if you have questions about your return, our services, or the tax filing process. The rules are complex and you probably hear unique tax strategies from friends and acquaintances. While it is important to learn from the experience of others, remember that “Free Advice” often is worth only what you paid for it. So, let us help you sort the rumors from the facts.
In closing, please know that we offer a range of services beyond tax preparation and tax planning. We can help you, or someone you know, to manage your money and eliminate financial crisis from your life. If you are a business owner, we have multiple services to help your company grow larger and make more money.
While you are responsible for you own success, you should never feel like you are alone in trying to solve all of your problems. Call us to find out whether there are easy solutions that you have not yet considered to relieve your financial stress.