Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to provide when I have my taxes prepared?
If this is the first time we are preparing your tax returns, we will need a copy of the prior year’s return(s). We will also need other information that is not found on tax returns. That includes dates of birth and Social Security numbers of yourself, spouse, dependent children, and any other dependents you wish to claim. For the first year as well as all future returns, we will need:
Wage statements (Forms W-2, Forms 1042-S).
Pension & retirement income (Forms 1099-R).
Government payments such as Social Security, unemployment benefits, state tax refunds (Forms SSA-1099).
Investment income (Forms 1099-INT, Forms 1099-DIV, Forms 1099-B).
Cost(basis) of any investments sold during the year.
Self-employment income and expenses (Forms 1099-MISC, bookkeeping records such as a detailed general ledger).
Rental income and expenses.
Income/(loss) from other businesses, estates & trusts (Forms K-1).
Other income including lottery and gambling winnings and losses, employee reimbursements, alimony, payments for damages or legal settlements, and any other sources of revenue whether taxable or tax free.
Expenses including medical & dental, real estate & personal property taxes, federal, state, & city taxes paid including prior balances, estimated & extension payments, prior year balances or foreign taxes paid, charitable donations (cash and non-cash), mortgage and home equity loan interest (Form 1098 and/or co-op annual statement), unreimbursed employment related expenses, job related educational expenses, investment expenses, tax advice and tax preparation fees, etc.
Special expenses which may include items such as alimony payments, IRA or other retirement contribution, child care expenses, higher education expenses (including 529 plan contributions), and interest on school loans.
Any other information you think may be pertinent to preparing your returns.
Make a list of questions regarding current or future year tax preparation or planning.
Provide a listing of all foreign bank and/or investment accounts and any activity within them.
How do you determine fees?
Fees are normally determined based on a combination of factors such as time spent, staff member rates, special qualifications required, and other factors.
We believe in devoting our time to where it will provide the greatest overall benefit. For example, the potential savings for the current year will likely pale in comparison to the value of savings over say the next 5 years. So, in this regard, we spend appropriate time getting to know each other. (Yes, it is equally important that you get to know us since we will be dispensing advice to you.)
Knowing a client allows us to discuss or raise issues that clients often don’t raise because they are unaware of the significance. For example, when we learn of the birth of a child, we may inquire about the clients’ life insurance coverage (of both spouses); or, we may ask about the existence of wills including the issue of custody of children should both parents die (say in a car accident).
Our procedures for preparing tax returns is to always have at least 2 professionals involved, one who prepares the return and another who checks it. In the case of personal income tax returns, we also utilize 2 software programs, one a simple, quick, “planning” program, the second the more detailed “preparation” software. These procedures take longer but have proved very effective in eliminating errors which also then reduces government tax audits.
So, our fees are designed for those taxpayers who appreciate and want outstanding personal service, quality professional skills, and who wish to establish a long-term relationship with our tax professionals.
Our minimum fees are as follows:
Personal income tax returns = $650
Business & other income tax returns = $1,200
We are often able to negotiate an all-inclusive fee with clients who need our services throughout the year.
When and how are payments due?
We mostly bill upon completion of a job or project. On occasion we require a retainer before starting work.
Once we issue an invoice, payment is expected to be received within 30 days. (We do not determine fees based on refunds, nor do we take fees from refunds.) Payments are normally remitted to us by check.
We also offer fee-free payments through Venmo, Chase QuickPay, Citibank Popmoney & Wire Transfer. We accept PayPal, but there is an additional service fee.
Do you offer a free initial consultation?
Yes. Since our niche is service-oriented and is most often provided on an annual, ongoing basis, we feel that it is important that each of us is comfortable working with the other. So, our initial meeting is based on getting to know one another and determining if there is a good fit. This normally takes about 1 hour. Once we’ve agreed to work together, only then does the clock start and fees will be charged from that point going forward.
Do you offer tax planning and other consulting services?
We believe that any topic that can include a dollar sign, is appropriate for consulting with us.
The most common one requested is tax planning. We encourage clients to avail themselves of our tax planning help at any time, but it is most frequently sought in November and December. It often takes about an hour to simulate a tax return. This can be done in our office, on the telephone, or via email. We keep track of our time but don’t bill it at that time; instead, we include it with the preparation time which is often less because of this head start.
For our other consultations, we have found that it works best if we have an in-person sit-down. We’ve found that the look on a person’s face speaks to us louder than the words that are spoken. Obviously, the time needed for consultations cannot be predetermined. Sometimes, after you have left, we need to spend time researching the issues. When scheduling consultations, we should both allow for an hour.
What do I do if I receive a tax notice?
First, don’t panic! Read it and see if you can determine who sent it and if a response is required. Some notices are just acknowledgements of refunds due you or of taxes you paid. Others only want some additional information or additional interest and or penalties for late payments. ALL notices should be brought to our attention immediately by sending us a copy. If you choose to respond yourself, perhaps by sending them a check, you should provide us with a copy of your check as well. We prefer a PDF e-mail attachment, but fax, US mail or drop off all work.
A WORD OF CAUTION: The IRS does not communicate with you by e-mail. Neither do most income tax authorities. Therefore, be very cautious before opening an e-mail purportedly from a government agency. Scams and phishing are becoming rampant.
How available are you?
We are open all year. Reaching us is easy by e-mail, telephone, or Skype. We pride ourselves on responding to our clients, service providers and prospects with near immediacy.
Do you prepare US Income Tax Returns for Foreign Nationals & for Americans working outside the US?
Besides having prepared Income Tax Returns for clients in many US states & cities, we are also experienced in preparing US Returns for Non-Resident Aliens (Form 1040-NR) and for Americans working abroad. We do not prepare Tax Returns of other countries besides the US.
We have a diverse foreign clientele across many nationalities. Some common occupations are Diplomats, Actors, Models, and UN employees.
Tax law is very complicated regarding Non-US Citizens working in the US, and US Citizens working abroad. We have many years of experience in this area and are also familiar with Green Cards, Immigration Issues, an d Foreign Assets among other issues.