Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

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AD3
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Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby AD3 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:24 am

Hello everyone,

Long time visitor to site, but a new user nonetheless. I recently filed my taxes a few weeks ago, while doing so I requested PDF files of my past taxes. My long time EA stated that in order for him to send them to me I found need to pay a fee in order to receive them.

I was curious if anyone thinks this is outrageous, or whether he has a justification for the fee?

-Note: He does not provide PDF copies when completing taxes. Additionally, I paid the fee, however I think this is the last time I am going to use going forward.

wilshuer
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby wilshuer » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:23 am

It takes his time to pull them up and send, time isn't free. They may be archived and it could take some time/effort to retrieve, so it is fair to charge.

That said, the fact that you're a long time client, and if he didn't provide in the past, seems it would be something done gratis. Being provided in the past probably should have been standard practice. I would say while he can charge, it isn't good customer service.

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NCPE
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby NCPE » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:45 am

My CPA supplies me a bound hard copy of my tax returns along with supporting documentation when he is done. It is then up to me to retain it or make copies as I see fit.

I am sure he would charge additional for a pdf copy, either at the time I pick up the hard copy or if I came back at a later date.

As stated above, time is money.

NCPE

zuma
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby zuma » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:46 am

He can justify charging you because, as mentioned, time = money.

Do you know if the PDF version had already been created when you made the request? If not, it would take some time to create it.

Maxdog
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Maxdog » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:54 am

Mine charges something like $30 - $35 for this service. I have no problem paying it as he does a great job with my taxes. Everyone charges in different ways.

I'm sure some folks charge more to do taxes in general and then provide this type of thing for "free." If I'm happy with his service overall, I don't go to the mat over something like this.

Admittedly after the first time he charged me this a few years ago, I just got in the habit of scanning the hard copy he gave me every year and saving it as a PDF myself...I figure he's not my secretary. If he didn't charge a fee, all his clients including myself might treat him like one.

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StevieG72
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby StevieG72 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:04 am

Considering what the majority of tax preparers & accountants charge, I think it is excessive.

However, if they already provided you with a hard copy and you are requesting a pdf file of multiple years then a charge may be justified.
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fundseeker
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby fundseeker » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:41 am

For those of you who still pay CPAs to do your tax returns, you might want to give TurboTax or something similar a try. My parents were paying hundreds each year to pull all of their information together for their CPA, and all they got from the CPA was a fancy booklet with estimated tax forms.

Well, I do not provide them the fancy booklet, but I can do five returns (including theirs) with $50 or so software. I know sometimes a CPA is warranted, but for most people I doubt they are worth the money. As a test, you could buy the software after tax season at a reduced cost, fill it in, and see how easy it is and that it matches the CPA's numbers. PLUS, for an extra $45, TTax provides audit support. And, the first year takes longer because you have to fill in all of your information, but every year after that, TTax pulls that info from the prior year's return so you don't have to. And best of all, it will download your Vanguard and other institution tax info for you!

Oh, and I save our returns in pdf format and can read them anytime I want, for free!

mw1739
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby mw1739 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:22 am

Interesting, my CPA switched this year to only PDF copies and charging a fee for paper copies. I prefer the PDF anyway, since I've never looked at the paper copies.

renue74
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby renue74 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:32 am

I own a small web design firm that used to do a lot more print design in the early 2000s. We designed a 4 page brochure for a one time client..(no ongoing relationship). About a year later, he called and requested a copy of the images from the brochure. I told him, we usually archive all those projects and it would take some time.

We found the project a few days later and burned a DVD. (Yeah...it was the 2000s) I sent him the DVD and an invoice for $50....which pretty much covered the time of somebody in my office searching the archives for his project and taking the time to burn the DVD and prep the mailing of it.

The client totally ignored the invoice and months later when I was doing overdue accounts, I contacted him. He told me he thought the $50 was a joke and he wouldn't pay. I'll always remember that client exchange.

I'm in the business of supplying an almost virtual product. I do sell time. It doesn't sound like a big deal...you know....30 minutes or so to hunt files, burn a DVD, and send....but what happens if EVERY one of your clients starting asking for 30 minute projects like that....and not wanting to pay.

As a client, I'm sure he thought..."oh it shouldn't take that long and I already paid them for the project." But in reality, those little bits of time add up and to be honest, can make or break a year for a small business.

pshonore
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby pshonore » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:42 am

I'd be surprised if any commercial (or retail) tax software did not include a provision for making pdf copies of any output. At worse just define another "printer" with pdf capabilities. Its not rocket science, just good customer service.

betterdays
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby betterdays » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:50 am

Check with your local library. Mine has a input device which reads the paper copies and will create a PDF file on a USB drive or send it as a PDF attachment to a email address. No Charge!

sss2009
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby sss2009 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:54 am

I agree that the charges are outrageous. Most CPA's I think use commercial software for doing taxes and these make pdf anyways. All he/she has to do is ask the administrative assistant to email the pdf from their archives or do it himself for a long term client.

I used to get by taxes done by a CPA...who made mistakes. He/She even charged me extra time to correct their own mistake :oops:
Needless to say, I do my own taxes now.

Time for you to rethink about it.

S

LarryAllen
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby LarryAllen » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:54 am

I would say he is being penny-wise but perhaps he is a low budget operator!? That is, perhaps you selected him because he doesn't cost much!? Therefore it's probably fair, though short-sighted, for this guy to ask for a fee. The fact that I pay my CPA a lot of money entitles me to a "free" pdf. :)

wilshuer
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby wilshuer » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:55 am

If you have been a long time client, perhaps something to ask for is a discount of some sort on next year's taxes as a concession and a clear agreement that you'll get future years in PDF form provided at conclusion. It would probably be easier to stick with him rather than explain everything to a new EA, remember your time is money, and whatever you waste explaining to a new provider could cover whatever you paid for those PDFs.

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neurosphere
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby neurosphere » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:07 am

What if the initial tax-prep contract stipulated there would be fees for providing pdfs, paper copies, etc. after some interval of time?

I'm curious if the OPs contract for the tax years in question mentions anything this.

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CAsage
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby CAsage » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:05 am

You could consider going to the IRS website and requesting a tax transcript of your prior tax returns, for free. Not sure what info you need from them, but that might be worth trying first. Transcripts are free; a copy of your tax return will cost you $50 from the IRS.

https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/reques ... tax-return

AD3
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby AD3 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:15 am

zuma wrote:He can justify charging you because, as mentioned, time = money.

Do you know if the PDF version had already been created when you made the request? If not, it would take some time to create it.



The PDF version are already created, he just needs to find them.

AD3
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby AD3 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:17 am

fundseeker wrote:For those of you who still pay CPAs to do your tax returns, you might want to give TurboTax or something similar a try. My parents were paying hundreds each year to pull all of their information together for their CPA, and all they got from the CPA was a fancy booklet with estimated tax forms.

Well, I do not provide them the fancy booklet, but I can do five returns (including theirs) with $50 or so software. I know sometimes a CPA is warranted, but for most people I doubt they are worth the money. As a test, you could buy the software after tax season at a reduced cost, fill it in, and see how easy it is and that it matches the CPA's numbers. PLUS, for an extra $45, TTax provides audit support. And, the first year takes longer because you have to fill in all of your information, but every year after that, TTax pulls that info from the prior year's return so you don't have to. And best of all, it will download your Vanguard and other institution tax info for you!

Oh, and I save our returns in pdf format and can read them anytime I want, for free!



Going forward this is what I'm going to do. More effective and my taxes have become simplified from past years.

AD3
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby AD3 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:19 am

betterdays wrote:Check with your local library. Mine has a input device which reads the paper copies and will create a PDF file on a USB drive or send it as a PDF attachment to a email address. No Charge!



Thanks for the advice, never thought about that.

Imbros
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Imbros » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:22 am

As far as I know, if you want TaxAct or other similar applications to pull your taxes prior to the last years, they charge a fee. It is customer's responsibility to save past tax return copies.

Even though that doesn't make me happy as a consumer, I think it is understandable that they charge a fee for their time/resources.
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AD3
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby AD3 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:23 am

LarryAllen wrote:I would say he is being penny-wise but perhaps he is a low budget operator!? That is, perhaps you selected him because he doesn't cost much!? Therefore it's probably fair, though short-sighted, for this guy to ask for a fee. The fact that I pay my CPA a lot of money entitles me to a "free" pdf. :)



He has a staff of about 8, plus I've been a customer for over 20 years. I have also referred family and friends to him as well.

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flamesabers
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby flamesabers » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:26 am

sss2009 wrote:I agree that the charges are outrageous. Most CPA's I think use commercial software for doing taxes and these make pdf anyways. All he/she has to do is ask the administrative assistant to email the pdf from their archives or do it himself for a long term client.


I was thinking the same thing. I can understand charging a fee for printing out a paper copy of past tax paperwork, but charging a fee for emailing a pdf copy strikes me as unwarranted.

AD3 wrote:
zuma wrote:He can justify charging you because, as mentioned, time = money.

Do you know if the PDF version had already been created when you made the request? If not, it would take some time to create it.



The PDF version are already created, he just needs to find them.


What would he do if the IRS asked him for a pdf of your prior tax returns? Would he charge them a fee as well? :mrgreen:

If anything, I would expect tax preparers to have their files properly organized in the event of an audit or something.

itstoomuch
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby itstoomuch » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:30 am

My accountant prefers that we file by paper. We get a copy and the original to put into the mail. He said that he would rather we paper file because for him to electronically file means that he has to monitor the filing which means time and effort.

I in turn take the accountant prepared tax forms and update my TaxAct online forms (yes, I paid the print/file fee) to make future tax scenarios for determining retirement funds distributions.
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EATaxGuy
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby EATaxGuy » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:34 am

itstoomuch wrote:He said that he would rather we paper file because for him to electronically file means that he has to monitor the filing which means time and effort.

It's true. I spend up to 30 seconds per client monitoring their e-filed return status.

I don't charge for .pdf files, but I might ask you to wait until after tax season.
You may have been handed a cactus, but sitting on it is up to you.

Lucky Lemon
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Lucky Lemon » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:35 am

I have heard of CPAs charging for PDFs before. Seems a bit like like being charged for butter for your dinner roll in a restaurant.

I don't know why the past returns were required and how fast they were needed, but I wonder if there would have been a charge a few weeks after the end of tax season.

LL

SouthernCPA
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby SouthernCPA » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:41 am

I can understand charging for a reprinted return, but not for a .pdf. We have a paperless office and keep copies of the source documents along with our markups on the .pdfs for calculations we used to prepare the returns as well as a .pdf of the filed return in each clients "binder" in our workpaper software. It would take me literally 1 minute to retrieve a copy of the return for the client.

We still provide paper copies of the returns to clients as a (free) convenience, although our client base is somewhat diverse. Many of the older clients prefer paper while the younger clients prefer digital.

From one CPA in tax practice's perspective - I'm not saying your preparer is doing this, but typically when clients ask for past returns it's because they are switching accountants. Sometimes it's for bank loans, but many times its because the new accountant is asking for the prior returns to see if there are any carryovers that impact the current year. Perhaps your preparer thinks this would increase the switching cost and make you more likely to stay with them? Not sure, just a thought that crossed my mind.

That said, I lose a lot of time per year filling ad hoc client requests for that I do not charge. "Quick" questions, copies of things I have to locate, secure and email/upload, questions on returns that I've already cut the invoice for, etc all add up. It can get frustrating at times, but I wouldn't ever charge for a .pdf of the workproduct you've already paid for.

AD3
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby AD3 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:51 am

Lucky Lemon wrote:I have heard of CPAs charging for PDFs before. Seems a bit like like being charged for butter for your dinner roll in a restaurant.

I don't know why the past returns were required and how fast they were needed, but I wonder if there would have been a charge a few weeks after the end of tax season.

LL


The reason why I requested the files were because I wanted to digitize my files for easier bookkeeping going forward. I didn't really think of switching my EA until after I thought about the value I was getting from him. Overall I think it's poor customer service, but as a customer I have the choice to leave.

jebmke
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby jebmke » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:43 am

itstoomuch wrote:My accountant prefers that we file by paper. We get a copy and the original to put into the mail. He said that he would rather we paper file because for him to electronically file means that he has to monitor the filing which means time and effort.

Hogwash.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

pshonore
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby pshonore » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:29 pm

EATaxGuy wrote:
itstoomuch wrote:He said that he would rather we paper file because for him to electronically file means that he has to monitor the filing which means time and effort.

It's true. I spend up to 30 seconds per client monitoring their e-filed return status.

I don't charge for .pdf files, but I might ask you to wait until after tax season.
I thought the IRS strongly discouraged mailing of returns filed by a "registered" preparer. Sure, everyone will have a few but if the IRS discovered 98% of John Preparer's returns were mailed in they might have questions. And what happens to rejects? SS# already filed, child claimed by someone else, bad EIN#, etc?

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FelixTheCat
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby FelixTheCat » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:38 pm

You are paying for labor. Tax person needs to eat. :happy
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Pajamas
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Pajamas » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:38 pm

If your tax preparer already gave you a paper copy, charging you to digitize it and provide you with a pdf version seems appropriate.

You could take your paper copy and run it through a copier or scanner and make an electronic version yourself. If you don't have a copier with this function, maybe your library does, or you could take it to Staples or another company that provides the service.

If your tax preparer didn't give you a copy of your tax return in any form, then it seems very inappropriate to charge you for one.

Some states basically require electronic filing if software is used to prepare a return, and it makes sense to me to avoid the expense and waste of resources in mailing in a paper return, not to mention the delays and slight risk of the return being lost.

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EATaxGuy
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby EATaxGuy » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:49 pm

pshonore wrote:I thought the IRS strongly discouraged mailing of returns filed by a "registered" preparer. Sure, everyone will have a few but if the IRS discovered 98% of John Preparer's returns were mailed in they might have questions. And what happens to rejects? SS# already filed, child claimed by someone else, bad EIN#, etc?

The IRS does discourage paper filing.
Some states are even worse about it.
Not sure what happens in the scenarios you describe, I e-file.
I don't know why the other preparer does not e-file, but I'm skeptical that it has anything to do with the time required to track e-filed returns. I have used 2 different brands of professional tax prep software in the past 3 years, and they both tracked the status of e-filed returns for me.
You may have been handed a cactus, but sitting on it is up to you.

itstoomuch
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby itstoomuch » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:52 pm

pshonore wrote:
EATaxGuy wrote:
itstoomuch wrote:He said that he would rather we paper file because for him to electronically file means that he has to monitor the filing which means time and effort.

It's true. I spend up to 30 seconds per client monitoring their e-filed return status.

I don't charge for .pdf files, but I might ask you to wait until after tax season.
I thought the IRS strongly discouraged mailing of returns filed by a "registered" preparer. Sure, everyone will have a few but if the IRS discovered 98% of John Preparer's returns were mailed in they might have questions. And what happens to rejects? SS# already filed, child claimed by someone else, bad EIN#, etc?

That's not an issue for the preparer. It's a problem that I will have regardless of what the preparer does or does not do.
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Vanguard Fan 1367
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Vanguard Fan 1367 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:22 pm

I am wondering what the charge was for the PDF copies? That certainly would make a difference.

I think that in some circles a dollar a page is not an unusual charge for paper copies of records.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby barnaclebob » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:27 pm

I'd take my business elsewhere too, especially because he doesn't provide the forms when filing.

Capsu78
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Capsu78 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:05 pm

renue74 wrote:I own a small web design firm that used to do a lot more print design in the early 2000s. We designed a 4 page brochure for a one time client..(no ongoing relationship). About a year later, he called and requested a copy of the images from the brochure. I told him, we usually archive all those projects and it would take some time.

We found the project a few days later and burned a DVD. (Yeah...it was the 2000s) I sent him the DVD and an invoice for $50....which pretty much covered the time of somebody in my office searching the archives for his project and taking the time to burn the DVD and prep the mailing of it.

The client totally ignored the invoice and months later when I was doing overdue accounts, I contacted him. He told me he thought the $50 was a joke and he wouldn't pay. I'll always remember that client exchange.

I'm in the business of supplying an almost virtual product. I do sell time. It doesn't sound like a big deal...you know....30 minutes or so to hunt files, burn a DVD, and send....but what happens if EVERY one of your clients starting asking for 30 minute projects like that....and not wanting to pay.

As a client, I'm sure he thought..."oh it shouldn't take that long and I already paid them for the project." But in reality, those little bits of time add up and to be honest, can make or break a year for a small business.


Worked for a SaaS based software company where a big client "quit" one day out of the blue. A few day later comes the request to provide them with electronic copy of all of their data stored for the prior 6 years. Tried to explain to them that all that data resided "unstructured" in the secured server. They had entered into an agreement with a competitor who said "sure, no problem in repopulating all your old data into our system". Sent them "their data" exactly as we had it stored, which could be compared to a Bible cut up into individual words and run through a wind machine!

Finally, the "BIG DOGS' got involved and after peeing on each others mailbox, they asked for a copy our proprietary code... to supply to a major competitor so they could attempt to reconstruct 6 years of prior transactional data. Our CEO said "You get me a copy of their code first!" We lost the customer, their sales rep lost his job and the client lost 6 years of searchable prior data, all for an cost difference of less than $15,000. Pretty sure the guy who approved the purchase had a pretty crappy performance review that year.

AD3
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby AD3 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:26 pm

Vanguard Fan 1367 wrote:I am wondering what the charge was for the PDF copies? That certainly would make a difference.

I think that in some circles a dollar a page is not an unusual charge for paper copies of records.


It was a $20 fee, it was based on what they could find. Which was 5 years worth of taxes documents.

Maxdog
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Maxdog » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:22 pm

I guess maybe I'm in the minority here, but all the "freebies" I get throughout the year add up. I call my CPA whenever (not too late of course), and at times on the weekends...although I try to keep it to a minimum.

My CPA meets with me on Saturdays a few times a year even when their office is closed so we can take time to break things down when needed. He treats me to lunch several times a year when we finish up a late morning meeting. He does a ton of work for me with various businesses and personal returns. I pay him well, and he provides great service. I have no problem paying him $35 to source old documents and providing them to me quickly.

I don't work for free and neither does he. That's just one way he charges for things. I look at the overall picture and it works for both of us. I wouldn't focus on the trees and lose sight of the forest. Just evaluate if the overall job/service is worth what you are paying for it. If not, move on. Simple.

SRenaeP
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby SRenaeP » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:53 pm

I believe I saw the question asked but not answered - did your tax preparer provide you with any copy (hard copy or electronic) of the returns that were filed? If not, they are running afoul of IRS regulations. If that is the case, you may want to make a stink.

-Steph

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby KyleAAA » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:24 pm

That seems entirely appropriate so long as the fee was reasonable. Why should you be entitled to a free pdf years after the fact?

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Vanguard Fan 1367 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:02 am

AD3 wrote:
Vanguard Fan 1367 wrote:I am wondering what the charge was for the PDF copies? That certainly would make a difference.

I think that in some circles a dollar a page is not an unusual charge for paper copies of records.


It was a $20 fee, it was based on what they could find. Which was 5 years worth of taxes documents.



That doesn't sound too oppressive. I lost my paper copy of 2 tax returns and my CPA gave me them for free. I would have been ok with a dollar a page charge.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Katietsu » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:23 am

Five years worth for $20 is very reasonable. I suspect some of the previous answers (those surprised at the fee) would have been different had they known that the EA was going back into multiple years of archived records during tax season to meet your request. It seems possible that had you just asked to be provided with a PDF of this year's return at the time of filing, there would not have been a charge. These are two very different requests.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby tdhg566 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:33 am

EATaxGuy wrote:...
I don't know why the other preparer does not e-file...

Preparers don't e-file because they don't want to acquire an EFIN. Sometimes they don't even sign the return. And by not e-filing they can use inexpensive, i.e. not "professional" level tax software to prepare the files with minimal cost. Like you, I'm an Enrolled Agent, but possibly unlike you, this is a retirement job for me. I work for someone else, but I know of folks similar to me who do a few dozen returns each year from home. They even recruit clients from their former employer. Since they don't have an EFIN, and maybe don't sign the return, there's no proof they "stole" the clients. These folks maintain their EA status and PTIN at minimal cost. Add an insurance policy to cover the practice and it's a great low cost sideline business that scales up or down as needed.
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EATaxGuy
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby EATaxGuy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:42 am

tdhg566 wrote:
EATaxGuy wrote:...
I don't know why the other preparer does not e-file...

Preparers don't e-file because they don't want to acquire an EFIN. Sometimes they don't even sign the return. And by not e-filing they can use inexpensive, i.e. not "professional" level tax software to prepare the files with minimal cost. Like you, I'm an Enrolled Agent, but possibly unlike you, this is a retirement job for me. I work for someone else, but I know of folks similar to me who do a few dozen returns each year from home. They even recruit clients from their former employer. Since they don't have an EFIN, and maybe don't sign the return, there's no proof they "stole" the clients. These folks maintain their EA status and PTIN at minimal cost. Add an insurance policy to cover the practice and it's a great low cost sideline business that scales up or down as needed.

I know of this (shady) practice, but I don't know that is the situation with the previously mentioned tax preparer.

I'm amused at the thought of a tax preparer not signing a return, but buying insurance to cover his/her practice. I find the incongruence ironic, and I love me some good irony. :)
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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby ERISA Stone » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:26 am

I don't think there is a right/wrong answer here. Having said that, if any of my vendors starts nickel & diming me, it does give me pause to consider there are other vendors out there. My accountant merged with another firm a few months ago, and it's obvious that tracking time down to the minute is a focus of the joint venture. I've never even considered anyone else up until now because I like his services. But now I have some interest in considering other firms.

At a previous company I worked for, we had a minimum $300 charge to make any amendments to a 401k plan document. We had one client who changed addresses and wanted to get the address updated in the document. My boss said - $300, no exception. I told him that if I went to the advisor (who was my main contact, not the actual client) and told him $300 for an address change, I bet the client would leave us. He said no exceptions. I even went over his head to the owners because I felt it was so absurd, but they deferred to my manager. Not only did I lose that client, but I lost the entire book of business from that advisor..... over $300 for an address change.

To be fair, strictly in terms of time, the amendment probably cost $300. But sometimes in business, I think it's important to consider the implications of something so minor. See the forest for the trees and all that. If you are going to nickel & dime me to death, you better make sure you are the absolute best at what you're doing. Otherwise, I'll check out the competitors.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Vanguard Fan 1367 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:03 pm

ERISA Stone wrote:I don't think there is a right/wrong answer here. Having said that, if any of my vendors starts nickel & diming me, it does give me pause to consider there are other vendors out there. My accountant merged with another firm a few months ago, and it's obvious that tracking time down to the minute is a focus of the joint venture. I've never even considered anyone else up until now because I like his services. But now I have some interest in considering other firms.

At a previous company I worked for, we had a minimum $300 charge to make any amendments to a 401k plan document. We had one client who changed addresses and wanted to get the address updated in the document. My boss said - $300, no exception. I told him that if I went to the advisor (who was my main contact, not the actual client) and told him $300 for an address change, I bet the client would leave us. He said no exceptions. I even went over his head to the owners because I felt it was so absurd, but they deferred to my manager. Not only did I lose that client, but I lost the entire book of business from that advisor..... over $300 for an address change.

To be fair, strictly in terms of time, the amendment probably cost $300. But sometimes in business, I think it's important to consider the implications of something so minor. See the forest for the trees and all that. If you are going to nickel & dime me to death, you better make sure you are the absolute best at what you're doing. Otherwise, I'll check out the competitors.


Your attitude rocks. I am in the customer service business also. In this competitive world of today you can't hand out a lousy attitude at the front door and expect to stay in business.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby 8foot7 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:39 pm

ERISA Stone wrote:I don't think there is a right/wrong answer here. Having said that, if any of my vendors starts nickel & diming me, it does give me pause to consider there are other vendors out there. My accountant merged with another firm a few months ago, and it's obvious that tracking time down to the minute is a focus of the joint venture. I've never even considered anyone else up until now because I like his services. But now I have some interest in considering other firms.

At a previous company I worked for, we had a minimum $300 charge to make any amendments to a 401k plan document. We had one client who changed addresses and wanted to get the address updated in the document. My boss said - $300, no exception. I told him that if I went to the advisor (who was my main contact, not the actual client) and told him $300 for an address change, I bet the client would leave us. He said no exceptions. I even went over his head to the owners because I felt it was so absurd, but they deferred to my manager. Not only did I lose that client, but I lost the entire book of business from that advisor..... over $300 for an address change.

To be fair, strictly in terms of time, the amendment probably cost $300. But sometimes in business, I think it's important to consider the implications of something so minor. See the forest for the trees and all that. If you are going to nickel & dime me to death, you better make sure you are the absolute best at what you're doing. Otherwise, I'll check out the competitors.


This +1000. Well said. Either a business arrangement is a relationship or it's transactional in nature. Plus, I don't think anyone whose primary deliverable could be completed in a satisfactory way for a large portion of a potential customer base by a piece of $60 software should rely on nickel and diming to improve the bottom line.

I dropped my CPA after he decided to make filling out the tax organizer (which was basically an entire 1040 just with friendly words) a requirement to beginning work on taxes. If I have to do the work to put everything together, then I might as well just plug it in to TurboTax myself. I saved $500 and I guess he saved himself some time serving me as his client.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby NotWhoYouThink » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:47 pm

To be fair, strictly in terms of time, the amendment probably cost $300. But sometimes in business, I think it's important to consider the implications of something so minor. See the forest for the trees and all that. If you are going to nickel & dime me to death, you better make sure you are the absolute best at what you're doing. Otherwise, I'll check out the competitors.


Would the corollary be that if you are going to ask for freebies, your business had better be worth it? I'm guessing some CPAs continue to do work for clients that are no longer profitable, just out of good will. But if the business you bring is small and barely break even for me, charging for "extras" might be one way to solve the problem.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby ERISA Stone » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:46 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
To be fair, strictly in terms of time, the amendment probably cost $300. But sometimes in business, I think it's important to consider the implications of something so minor. See the forest for the trees and all that. If you are going to nickel & dime me to death, you better make sure you are the absolute best at what you're doing. Otherwise, I'll check out the competitors.


Would the corollary be that if you are going to ask for freebies, your business had better be worth it? I'm guessing some CPAs continue to do work for clients that are no longer profitable, just out of good will. But if the business you bring is small and barely break even for me, charging for "extras" might be one way to solve the problem.


I think that's fair and that's what I would do if I had a client that was not profitable. In my anecdote, we lost around $15-20k revenue/annually over that one-time $300 amendment for an address change. I wouldn't have fought back so much if we had been discussing a profit killer.

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Re: Tax preparer charging for past tax PDF's copies

Postby Vanguard Fan 1367 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:05 am

ERISA Stone wrote:
NotWhoYouThink wrote:
To be fair, strictly in terms of time, the amendment probably cost $300. But sometimes in business, I think it's important to consider the implications of something so minor. See the forest for the trees and all that. If you are going to nickel & dime me to death, you better make sure you are the absolute best at what you're doing. Otherwise, I'll check out the competitors.


Would the corollary be that if you are going to ask for freebies, your business had better be worth it? I'm guessing some CPAs continue to do work for clients that are no longer profitable, just out of good will. But if the business you bring is small and barely break even for me, charging for "extras" might be one way to solve the problem.


I think that's fair and that's what I would do if I had a client that was not profitable. In my anecdote, we lost around $15-20k revenue/annually over that one-time $300 amendment for an address change. I wouldn't have fought back so much if we had been discussing a profit killer.


I believe that you said that you no longer worked for that company. I was wondering if that sort of thinking is one of the reasons that you don't work there anymore.


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