Over the course of the two decades we have been preparing tax returns as part of our tax law practice, we have frequently had clients appear for appointments unprepared, despite having made the appointment well in advance and despite the guidance for what to bring we offer on our website. As a result, we have been forced to spend many hours outside of appointment times doing follow-up. This has resulted in a loss of our time which could be devoted to conducting other business.

Please use not only our checklists but read the instructions, paragraph by paragraph, to ensure you are prepared and have not forgotten anything.
We can no longer afford to subsidize those clients who choose not to be ready at the time of their office appointment. As a result, if circumstances require us to follow up because a client has not read our instructions and as a result is unprepared, they will be charged a minimum extra fee of $100 before the tax return is released.

We understand that early in the tax season there is the possibility you have not received all documents. We will accomodate this situation at no charge by completing everything else and waiting for the documents. An example of this we see every year is where a brokerage will not have final numbers available until mid-February or even Mid-March. We will complete everything else and wait for the broker statements. There would be no charge for this.

Note none of this will apply to electronic or phone appointments. Nor will this apply to someone who has a particularly difficult situation, such as a required payback of wages, or a disaster loss. We are here to help with complex issues which may indeed require follow-up.

Also, we have no intention of being petty about this. For example, we will not this apply to simply forgotten documents. If you leave the W-2's on the kitchen table, or are missing a Form 1098 for mortgage interest, we are not going to charge you to plug in a number or two to complete the return.

Common examples of being unprepared include, but are certainly not limited to:

1. A client takes a distribution from a Roth account, which will be indicated on a Form 1099-R by the letter "J" in box 7 of that form, and they have no basis information. Because you only pay tax on earnings in excess of the total amount of money contributed to a Roth IRA since it was opened, it is necessary to determine how mmuch was contributed. This requires a review of each annual statement and a total of the amounts contributed minus the amounts withdrawn each year. This is a case, however, where we require only one number representing the basis of the account so there would be no charge. But if you make us do all the calculations we will charge at our regular rate of $450 per hour.

2. We do dependent tax returns for free, but that information must be sent to us ahead of time so it is ready to deliver to you and for E-File form signature. This is especially true if you are uncertain whether a person even qualifies as a deendent.

3. You do not inform us in advance you have bought, exchanged or sold a rental or investment property, or started a business.

4. You do not notify us in advance you are getting a divorce and want us to advise you on the best course of action. Because this requires that we prepare a waiver of conflict of interest in advance, a great deal of time will be spent in follow up under these circumstances.

5. You want to claim an educational credit but you do not have a Form 1098-T from the school. We are strictly required to have a copy of this form. If a copy is not mailed to you, it may almost always be obtained online from the school through the student's account. This is also true of the total cost of books when the student is eligible for the American Opportunity Credit for college.

6. You received a subsidy for health care, such as, for example, from Covered California, but you do not have the Form 1095-A. This is a time-consuming form to input and you will be charged accordingly.

7. You donated a vehicle which a charity sold for more than $500, but you did not bring a written acknowledgment of a Form 1098-C, which would have been issued by the charity.

8. You received compensation, either directly or through a cash-out, in an alternative form, including, but not limited to incentive stock options(ISO), non qualified stock options(NQSO), restricted stock, restricted stock units(RSU), an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) or an employee stock option purchase plan (ESOP) then be sure to include all relevant documents, including those provided by the employer as guidance for determining tax consequences.

9. You did not use one of our many checklists where appropriate, and this causes your apointment to run longer than anticipated, or you simply do not have the basic numbers that should have been enteres on the checklists.