What the Client Should Expect

Sullivan & Company, CPAs

4709 Montgomery Lane

Bethesda, Maryland 20814

(301) 657-8080

"What the Client Should Expect for Personal Tax Return Preparation"


(1)   Helpful hints in providing information for personal tax preparation

a. Collect your source document information and send to us when you have approximately 75% of the information. You do not need to have 100% to submit the data. This way, we can begin while you are waiting for further documents.

b. If you are providing the information to us electronically, it is preferable that you use your electronic mailbox, which is on our website, rather than e-mailing the documents. E-mailing individual documents to multiple staff members actually makes the process difficult. Using your electronic mailbox centralizes the documents and keeps your Social Security number off of the internet.

(2) Tax Interview. The process of preparing your individual tax return begins with the "tax interview". This tax interview can be done either in person or over the telephone. In this interview, we review with you the information that you have collected for us to prepare your tax return. We use a checklist, which reviews all tax and some financial aspects of your situation. We try to make sure that we have received all the information needed in order that we can prepare a tax return that will give you the lowest tax and best tax. Additionally, we try to make sure that you have considered all of the financial aspects of your life so that we can make recommendations. At the conclusion of this tax interview, you should know some of the information that we still need to complete your return. For less complicated returns, we may be able to provide you with a Client Agreement with the tax preparation fee at the conclusion of the tax interview. For more complicated tax returns or circumstances, we will e-mail you the Client Agreement with the tax preparation fee. There is no obligation on your part until you have signed and returned the Client Agreement form.

(3) Tax Preparation Fees/Client Agreement Form. When you send us your information, we review it, ask you questions, answer any questions you have, and take you through a tax interview. At that point, we know what it entails to prepare your tax return and the forms needed. From our fee schedule, we estimate the amount and enter the information on our Client Agreement form. Our fee schedule consists of a base charge with an additional amount for other forms we need to prepare. We also take into account the estimated time to prepare your personal return. We e-mail the Client Agreement to you, which describe the work we are going to perform and the cost. If you want to proceed, you would sign the Client Agreement and return to us with payment. If you do not want to proceed, there is not a cost for our work thus far. In other words, we invest an hour of our time into reviewing your data to come up with the estimate and you have the option of proceeding or not, whichever you decide. The best thing to do now is for you to send us what you have and we will follow the above procedure and send you a Client Agreement. If you decide not to use us, there is not a cost until you agree to it with the Client Agreement.

Your fee should be paid with the Client Agreement form. Your tax preparation fee does not cover any amended returns that may be necessary after we have given you your completed tax returns.

(4) Tax Returns. The general rule for completing your tax returns is 7 to 14 days after we have received all of the information necessary to prepare your tax returns and all questions are answered. The 7 to 14 days turn-around time lengthens for those clients who give us their information between March 1st and April 15th.

(5) Filing Your Returns Electronically/Paper.  After your returns are completed, we will upload a copy of your returns and the e-file authorization form(s) into your electronic mailbox. If the returns cannot be filed electronically, we will mail the returns to you with instructions for filing. You will receive a phone call from us notifying you that your returns are available for downloading.  After reviewing your returns, you should sign the e-file authorization form(s), which authorizes us to file them electronically, and return the form(s) to us via e-mail (hthorne@esullivan.net), mail, or fax (301-657-9055). We will file your returns electronically within two days of receiving your signed authorization form(s). You will receive confirmation from us via mail and through your electronic mailbox that your returns were successfully filed with the government agencies

(6) Extensions. If your returns have not been electronically filed by April 5, we will file extensions for you. If you see us and/or submit information to us between the dates of March 15th and April 15th of the year, we cannot guarantee that your tax returns will not be extended. We prefer not to file extensions, but in some situations it cannot be avoided. We encourage you to see us as early in the filing season as is convenient with your schedule.

(7) Penalties. Penalties and interest are assessed on all tax returns with balances due that are filed after April 15th. Even if we file federal and state extensions, you will receive a notice for penalties and interest if your tax return has a balance due and is filed after April 15th. Penalties are assessed for failure to file at 5% per month, to a maximum of 25%. Penalties are assessed for paying your taxes late at 1/2 of 1% per month, to a maximum of 25%. In addition to these penalties, interest is assessed at the rate of approximately 6% per year. If we estimate a tax liability on your returns and your returns will be extended, we will provide you with an estimated tax payment for the estimated balance due to eliminate penalties for not paying your tax liability on time. Please ask us if you are not completely clear on these penalties and interest rules.

(8) Processing Tax Returns for the Second Time. In the process of preparing individual tax returns, we conduct a tax interview with you and ask you questions so that we have complete information. We carefully review your information so that we can prepare your tax return correctly with the lowest tax the first time. Sometimes after we have completed the tax return, clients find additional information so we must prepare their return again. This is not a problem as many times it is worthwhile. There is a cost to reprocess a previously prepared return. We ask that you try to be as complete as possible with your information the first time.

(9) Tax Preparers. In our office, there are 16 professional accountants of whom 5 are CPAs. We recognize that it is a benefit to you to have the same tax preparer each year. It is also to your advantage to have more than one individual in our office that is familiar with your situation. We assign tax returns keeping this in mind. If you have a preference for a specific tax preparer, please tell us.

Sullivan & Company, CPAs appreciates the opportunity to serve you. We are available year round to answer your tax and financial questions and to make recommendations regarding your particular situation. Thank you for reading this memo that will enable us to serve you better.




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