LINKS – FAQs
Q: How much does it cost to use a CPA?
A: My hourly rate is $175, with a minimum fee of $400 to prepare the federal and state tax returns. How much your return will cost depends largely on two items. First, how complicated is your tax situation? Are you self-employed? Do you have rentals or farming income? Home office? Multiple investment accounts? Generally speaking, the more complicated your situation, the higher the preparation fee.
Second, how “clean,” or organized, are you and your records? The cleaner the records, the lower the fee. Once we meet, I can give you an idea of the estimated cost for your returns, and help you with advice on how to get more organized if necessary. In addition, continuing clients receive an annual tax organizer every January with their prior year information, which can be a handy tool to get your tax stuff together in advance of our appointment.
Q: What should I bring to my appointment?
A: In addition to all current year tax documents that you have received (W-2, 1098, K-1, etc.), please also bring copies of your tax returns for the past three years. If you run a business or have rental properties, I’ll need the income and categorized expenses for the tax year at hand. If you use QuickBooks, please send me an accountant invitation to view the books and recommend adjustments.
Also, if you made any significant purchases during the year (real estate, vehicles, business assets, etc.), bring in the purchase documents.
Q: How long should I keep my records and tax returns?
A: I recommend that you keep these records for at least 4 years. However, if you have a carryover loss from a prior year, you need to keep all your records dating back to the original loss.
Q: I’m late in filing my tax returns. Can you help?
A: Generally speaking, yes! I have several clients who came to me years ago with multi-year tax “messes,” receiving threatening IRS and FTB letters, and who are now up-to-date on their tax filings. I’m happy to help you, however, you do need to make a commitment to get your records together so that we can file accurate returns.
Q: I can’t pay my tax bill. Can you help me set up a payment plan?
A: Absolutely! We can assist you in setting up installment agreements with the IRS and state tax authorities, or direct you to their websites to set it up.
Q: I can’t pay my taxes. Can you settle my tax bill for “pennies on the dollar,” like I heard about on the radio/television/from my neighbor?
A: Nope. That’s not my forte. I focus on tax compliance and remaining current on business and individual tax law. Consider seeking out a CPA that focuses on “Offer In Compromise” agreements.
Q: Are you accepting new clients?
A: At the moment, yes! If you are looking to work with a CPA, please call or email me to set up a complimentary half-hour consultation. I prefer building long-term relationships with my clients, and offer this initial meeting free-of-charge so that we can both ascertain whether we would work well together and determine whether the firm can meet your needs.
Q: Where is my tax refund?
A: It usually takes 2-4 weeks to get your refund, depending on the time of year and whether your return was electronically or paper-filed. Feel free to email me to find out the status. Or, are you a “do-it-yourself’er”? If so, go here for IRS – https://sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp, or here for CA – https://www.ftb.ca.gov/online/refund/index.asp. You’ll need a copy of your return to verify and obtain the information.
Q: What do I do if I receive a letter from the IRS or Franchise Tax Board?
A: First and foremost – take a deep breath and OPEN the letter! It may be inconsequential. It may have a deadline to respond. It may even be in your favor. Get into your favorite yoga position, read the notice carefully, read it again, and send me a copy.
Q: I’m concerned about identity theft. What steps do you take to protect my information?
A: I take security, privacy and identity theft concerns very seriously. Access to client files (both paper and digital) is limited to staff with a legitimate business need to view them. My client portal’s security and data integrity meets industry standards established by the IRS and Federal Trade Commission. These standards are comprehensive and cover things such as developing a security plan and how information is stored, accessed and transmitted (encryption, authentication, etc.). The unfortunate reality is that your personal data is already everywhere. Credit card companies and reporting companies, health insurers and major retailers have been breached recently. Because of these concerns, I make every effort possible to protect the data entrusted to me.
IRS. Where is my refund?
IRS: Electronic payment options.
IRS: Need more time to pay? Apply for an installment agreement.
FTB: Where is my refund?
FTB: Payment options & installment agreements.