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Disclosures

Policies

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OFFICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES

Request for Tax Data. While I have always insisted upon honesty and forthrightness, as well as accurate recordkeeping, I also ask that my requests for additional information and supporting documentation be met without delay and complaint. I am not trying to inconvenience you; instead, I am hoping to ensure that your return is prepared as correctly as possible. If requested materials are not provided, I will not claim the deduction on your return and if materials are not provided in a usable format, a surcharge may be assessed. However, a good excuse is always welcome, if only to offer a laugh: One client explained, "Due to a crazy intervention shoot where we were chasing a heroin addict around Pittsburgh, I wasn't able to get that FedEx to you." Please remember that my intent is to minimize the risk that your returns will audited but if they are examined, I want to improve the chances that all items reported will withstand scrutiny – I call that pre-audit protection. Top

Data Submission. I ask that you submit your data to me in a security-conscious manner.  If you wish to use a secure server and do not have a preferred provider of your own, you may head for the Contact page to access a link that allows for easy upload and convenient transmission.  If you would rather use e-mail to send documents and information, please be sure to password-protect your PDF attachments.  Of course, mail and fax work as well; or you may schedule an in-office appointment if you prefer.  NOTE:  For your protection, I will transmit sensitive information to you via SendFilesSecurely, a secure HTTPS server that stores files with high-grade encryption for up to 7 days.  You will receive an e-mail message providing you with a password and a unique link from which you may retrieve the file that I have uploaded for you.  On occasion, I may instead send you a password-protected PDF.  For added security during electronic transmission, I will redact critical information such as taxpayer ID and bank routing numbers.  If this is not satisfactory or you are unable to open and download an electronic item, you will have to make arrangements for physical delivery. Top

Rates. Due to ever-greater regulatory demands, additional diligence mandated by IRC §6694, increased recordkeeping requirements, lack of state conformity, AMT complexities, and rising overhead costs, my fees will increase incrementally each year.  In some instances, clients may also be subject to a fee bump to help bring my fees in line with competitors of equal experience and expertise.  Please note that I do not compete with those who offer low-cost returns; indeed, I am often called upon to “fix” the work prepared by such bargain practitioners.  Incidental charges for UPS delivery and expedited servicing will be assessed.  I continue to offer introductory discounts to new clients, as well as senior, student and preferred customer rates to existing clients and a 15% out-patient discount to clients who complete the tax preparation process by mail or e-mail.  Free estimates are always available. Top

The tortoise and the hare...To discourage procrastination, I offer a 10% discount in addition to all other applicable discounts if I have received your tax data in FULL by February 17th.  But if data that would otherwise be available is delivered to me after March 17th you may be subject to a 5% surcharge.  [All dates are in 2017.] Top

Fees for Services. I shall collect ½ of my fees when gathering your tax data and the balance upon delivery of the completed return – the minimum ore-payment in all cases shall be $375 in all cases.  Payments for my services are due in full upon completion of the work, whether or not you file the return as prepared.   You may be asked to submit your payment via cashier’s check within 10 days prior to the applicable filing deadline or if your invoice for tax preparation fees remains unpaid for more than 10 days.  I ask that you make my invoice your first priority and understand that the current economic downturn creates as many woes for me as it does for you.  I will gladly work out a payment plan for anyone with a cash-flow problem, but those who do not pay or communicate with me, should expect to forfeit any previously applied discounts and pay a penalty based on an annual rate of 6% of the outstanding balance plus applicable collection fees.  No additional services will be provided until the amount due is paid in full.  Note that your confidential data may be given to 3rd parties in the event that I am forced to engage a collection agent for non-payment of my fees.Top

Payments. All payments may be made via cash, check or online by accessing the Payments page on my website (www.mhaven.net) which links to PayPal™.  Simply click the “Payment” button at the very top, right-hand corner of any page on the website to make an advance payment, purchase my Service Contract, or pay your balance due. Top

Service Contract. The Service Contract--$150 if bought at the time of tax preparation or $195 if purchased later—entitles purchasers to unlimited hours of free consultation in lieu of my customary hourly rate ($225) on such topics as withholding allowances, estimated tax computations, job changes, out-of-state moves, new home purchases, refinancing, divorce and adoption, college savings, retirement plans, business start-up, amongst many other issues. Top

Automatic Extensions. Tax data and documentation must be submitted to me in a timely manner.  If requested information remains outstanding on or after March 17th, I will automatically file for a 6-month extension on your behalf without further notice to you—the extended deadline for individual returns will then be October 16th but you should note that extensions merely extend the time for filing, not payment—interest and penalties, if applicable, will continue to accrue and be charged by the tax authorities.  If you wish to pay any balance due via electronic funds withdrawal with the extension request, you must sign and submit Form 8878 to me.  A charge of $45 will be added to your invoice for processing the extension on your behalf.  I ask that you contact me in a timely manner if you do not want me to file an extension and ask that you do your utmost to complete the tax preparation process efficiently and expeditiously.  If I have not received your completed tax data by September 15th, a 5% surcharge will be assessed in addition to all applicable fees.  S-Corp and partnership returns are due March 15th.  Therefore, the submission deadline for complete business tax data is February 17th.  Anticipated turn-around time for most returns once I have received all data is generally 14 – 21 days but may be longer later in the season.  NOTE:  While California extensions are deemed to be automatic, taxpayers seeking to avail themselves of certain elections must file a federal extension to ensure that a valid extension is on record.  [All dates are in 2017.] Top

Courtesy. I ask that we treat each other civilly and professionally.  I am not responsible for the provisions or consequences of the Tax Code.  I will help you comply with the law, report your income and expenses most favorably, and reduce your tax liability as much as legally allowable.  If you are still dissatisfied, please complain to your congressman since I do not deserve your misdirected anger.  I understand that everyone suffers periods of anxiety and distress but it is (unlike one client irrationally presumed) not my job to assume your stress.  I reserve the right to refuse service to those who treat me with disrespect. Top

Timeliness. I expect you to devote yourself to all tasks required to complete the tax preparation process in a timely fashion and that you make government-mandated deadlines your priority. You should know that I take these deadlines seriously and always do my utmost to help you to comply with your obligations in a timely manner; even if that means foregoing personal obligations and sleep. You need only to imagine my reaction to an e-mail from a client with misplaced priorities when near midnight on the filing deadline she wrote, "What a long day: After work, we went to the Dodger game. What a waste! They lost." (No mention was made of the elusive e-file authorization form I was waiting for.) Top

Patience. As much as I wish I could treat you as though you were my only client, (un)fortunately you are not.  Please bear with me as this client did:  “My life is quite complicated and I’ll need your help on several fronts. My employer is bankrupt so I'll soon be out of work and without health insurance.  Dad has dementia.  Mom is moving into a senior facility.  Then there's the homicide investigation (a patient) and the pedophilia trial (a close friend).  It's all fascinating stuff, really, but… all of it can wait.” Top

Individualized Advice. Every taxpayer’s situation is unique and not always comparable to that of friends and relatives.  Therefore, you should not assume that the advice of others, however sound or well-intentioned, will necessarily apply to you.  I invite you to discuss your case with me individually.  My office hours are Monday to Friday, 9AM – 5PM.  Please note that in a recent Tax Court decision, a taxpayer was held liable for ignoring his long-term tax preparer’s advice and seeking more favorable advice elsewhere (Wadsworth, TC Memo 2008-171).  With a Masters in Tax Law, I am recognized nationally for my expertise and asked each year to teach fellow tax professionals.  I don’t know everything, but I know a lot and will always give you the best advice that I can.  One prospect who chose not to engage my services bragged that it was easy to create his own tax preparation program each year because “the laws don't change that much each year".  He’s wrong – the laws do change and I work hard to stay abreast so that you may pay the least amount of tax legally possible. Top

Practice Standards. As a paid preparer, I cannot sign your return if I determine that the return contains a position that does not have a realistic possibility of being sustained on its merits, unless the position is not frivolous and is adequately disclosed to the tax authority as per IRC §6662.  I will inform you of the penalties which will likely apply with respect to the position advised, prepared or reported and will advise you of any opportunity to avoid such penalty by making adequate disclosure.  I may rely in good faith and without verification upon all information furnished by you; however, I must make reasonable inquiries if the information appears to be incorrect, inconsistent or incomplete. Top

Tax Notices. I ask that you promptly forward any communications received from the tax authorities to me by mail or fax so that I may maintain a complete file on your behalf and offer proper advice as quickly as possible.   Please make sure to keep the original documents for your own files.  No advice will be provided without seeing the letter in question:  Last year, a client called to tell me that he had received a letter from the IRS.  When I asked what it said, he told me that he had not opened it and suggested I should just tell him what it said.  How could I?!  Please note that the IRS never sends correspondence by e-mail; you may be sure that any such communication is a scam and should forward all suspicious e-mails to phishing@irs.gov. Top

Privacy. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act prohibits disclosure of nonpublic personal information about current or former clients to anyone, unless specifically authorized by the client in writing.  As a result, no disclosures will be given to mortgage brokers and other lenders who, by law, must perform their own due diligence.  Access to this information is restricted to those professionals who may assist me in the preparation of your return or provide tax advisory and bookkeeping services.  I maintain stringent physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards to protect your records but cannot ensure against loss of confidentiality and/or tax documents during electronic transmission or mailing. Top

Confidentiality. Communications during the tax preparation process are confidential, (not privileged) and may be disclosed if a summons is issued.  Limited privilege is available during the representation process under §7525—you may ask that I assert the privilege in non-criminal tax matters involving the IRS or federal district courts but must reimburse me for ensuing costs, as well as costs for mandated responses to a legal subpoena.  If you are concerned about criminal matters, please engage legal counsel immediately. Top

Document Retention. Client’s final work product will be retained for five years; thereafter, all documents will be destroyed without further notice.  Physical deterioration or catastrophic events may shorten this term.  EA does not retain any original documents as they are returned to Client at the completion of the tax preparation process.  It is the Client’s responsibility to keep these materials for future use, including possible examination by the tax authorities.  Clients may request a duplicate hard or electronic copy of a return that I have prepared for a $50 processing fee. Top

Referrals. I offer many services in addition to tax preparation and consulting, including retirement and estate planning; §529 plan consultations; trustee and executor services; small business consulting and payroll services; client seminars for social, charitable, or business groups; and fluency in German.  All of your referrals are always welcome and much-appreciated!  Well, almost all – I felt compelled to turn away one lady who intended to use her recent inheritance to buy a house.  But when she came up short near the close of escrow, she sought out an “investor” who promised to kick in an additional $200K if she helped to resolve his tax problem which arose because he didn't file for 3 years and his ex-wife refused to forward his mail to the prison. Top

Humor. Your creativity and humor are appreciated, but you can understand my concern when one client told me that he “just made up the numbers.”  I will continue to err on the side of caution and provide you with sound advice.  However, I will neither engage in “creative” reporting (as did the taxpayer who claimed his dog as a landscaping subcontractor) nor allow you to claim unsubstantiated expenditures (such as toilet paper for your home office).  And unlike one of my competitors who shares an office with his wife (a psychic) leaving me to wonder who’s preparing the returns, I promise you that I work alone (and stick to hard facts)! Top

My Pledge. I offer personalized service and professional expertise, supported by an extensive tax library, a network of experienced contacts, and countless hours of continuing education.  If you leave detailed messages by voice- or e-mail, I will get back to you promptly.  Occasionally technology fails and so I ask that you follow-up with another message if you do not hear from me within 24 hours.  Conversely, I ask that you acknowledge my communications, if only to assure me that my words of wisdom or pleas for attention have not been lost in cyberspace, ended up in the trash, or fallen upon deaf ears.  And if I mark a communication as “urgent”, please assume that I meant it. Do not call me (as one fearful client did) to ask "What did I do?  Why do you hate me?"  I don’t hate you; I merely want to share time-sensitive information with you. Top



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"Everything is itemized, prioritized and presented in a list of pros and cons."

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This Office Promises You:
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Disclaimer: The information contained herein should not be used in any actual transaction without the advice and guidance of a professional tax advisor who is familiar with all of the relevant facts of your personal situation since the information is general in nature and not intended as legal, tax or investment advice but is merely educational. Furthermore, the information contained herein may not be applicable to or suitable for an individual's specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of other matters. To ensure compliance with certain U.S. Treasury Regulations note that, unless expressly indicated otherwise, any advice in this website relating to any federal or state tax issue is not intended or written to be used and cannot be used by any person for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Monica Haven assumes no obligation to inform any person of any changes in the tax law or other factors that could affect the information contained herein. And Monica Haven does not offer legal advice or services in any jurisdiction in which she is not licensed; nothing herein should be interpreted as the creation of a fiduciary or client/attorney relationship. This website is not intended for use by viewers in any state in which the site may fail to comply with the regulatory and ethical restrictions imposed by that state.