FAQs Re: Firm Processes, Procedures and Policies

The following are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding Firm processes, procedures and policies:

  • ENGAGEMENT LETTER:
    • What is an engagement letter and why do I need to sign it?
    • It is our policy to request our clients to sign an engagement letter which we also sign.  The letter outlines the terms of our engagement and establishes a proper understanding of what is expected of both parties to the engagement.
  • PAYMENT TERMS:
    • What are the payment terms for services provided by the Firm?
    • Payment Upon Receipt of Invoice.  New clients may be asked to pay a retainer which will be credited against the fee upon submission of our invoice for services.  Finance charges are assessed at 1.5% per month [18% APR] on unpaid balance after 30 days.  Clients whose accounts have been delinquent in the past are usually required to bring their account to a current status and pay a retainer before future services will be provided.
  • FEES:
    • How much will it cost for you to prepare my tax returns?
    • We do not charge a standard rate for all tax returns because everyone’s needs are different.  Some clients will have consultation needs and some will wish to meet and review their tax documents while others will simply provide those documents without a meeting.  Some will have well-organized tax documents and others will not.  Some may have a large volume of transactions and others may have only a few.  Some may have complex tax issues that require research and documentation while others may not.  Each of these factors impact the amount of time we spend on a particular engagement and the amount of resources that are required to be used, and therefore we base our fees for tax return preparation on the amount of time it takes us to prepare the tax returns for each client and we use standard hourly billing rates for each tax preparer within the Firm that are customized by function according to the background and experience of each tax preparer.
    • Will the firm offer me a fixed fee guaranteed in advance for the services it provides?
    • Fixed fees are typically established for audit engagements, bookkeeping engagements, and payroll processing.  Services to be provided for engagements which are not of a recurring nature and which can fluctuate from year to year depending upon facts and circumstances are billed as per the time and cost expended to perform the service each year at our normal hourly billing rates for the personnel assigned to provide the service for which we have been engaged.
    • Will I be charged for a computer fee for the preparation of my tax return?
    • We use computers to process tax information, calculate the tax, print completed returns and prepare electronic files for e-processing of tax returns.  This process requires us to purchase software and to remit annual and per-return fees which we pass on to our clients in the calculation of their fee for our services.  The use of the computer reduces our time substantially, and therefore actually serves to reduce our fees.  Computer processing also verifies accuracy and is essential for the required e-filing of tax returns.
  • FINANCE CHARGES:
    • Why does the Firm charge a Finance Charge on my account?
    • Finance Charges are only assessed on accounts with balances unpaid after 30 days.  We have incurred costs to provide our services to our clients prior to delivery of the product and the invoice to the client, and continued nonpayment by clients for services rendered cause the Firm to incur financing costs to meet its ongoing obligations.  Those financing costs are passed on to the non-paying clients only by this assessment of Finance Charges to those who fail to remit payment of their bill in a timely manner.
  • RETURN OF TAX DOCUMENTS:
    • Will my tax documents and important papers be returned?
    • At the end of each engagement, we always return all original client documents provided to us during the engagement.  We may retain a copy of certain documents in our files, but we never retain the original documents.
  • RETAINERS:
    • When does the Firm charge a retainer and how does a retainer get applied to my account?
    • Retainers are requested on new accounts and for those clients whose accounts have been delinquent in the past, and may also  be requested for large projects expected to require an extended period of time to complete. The retainer will be applied against the final bill for the engagement or project, with the balance due upon receipt of the final invoice or or any unused portion of the retainer refunded at that time.
  • COPIES:
    • Will I be provided with a copy of my tax return if I need it?
    • A client copy of all tax returns are provided to our clients upon completion in addition to the copy for filing with the taxing authorities or the e-filing of the return.  We retain an electronic and paper copy for the time period required by law from which we may make additional copies if needed in the future; however, we make no guarantee as to how long those copies will remain available thereafter so we recommend the client copy be retained by our clients.  Since we have already provided a client copy, we charge a fee for the time to access the files and make additional copies at a later date.
  • ELECTRONIC FILING:
    • Will my tax return be e-filed, and does it have to be e-filed?
    • Tax preparers are now required by IRS regulations to e-file tax returns unless the taxpayer does not wish to have their tax return e-filed and signs a statement requesting the tax return not to be e-filed.
  • STATE & LOCAL TAX RETURNS:
    • Will you prepare my state and local tax returns and can I prepare such forms myself?
    • We typically prepare the state return for the state of residence and the local tax returns required for Pennsylvania residents, and any other state or local tax returns specifically requested by our clients in writing.  In some cases, our clients prepare their own local tax returns.
  • BILLING RATES:
    • Are hourly billing rates used to compute the fee for services of the Firm and are there minimum charges for any  telephone consultation or service?
    • Unless otherwise agreed in writing in advance, our fees are typically determined by the time spent on each engagement plus the costs incurred, including computer processing fees.  Therefore, in years with unusual transactions or unusual volumes of transactions or need for significant consultation, the fee will increase accordingly.  However, although based on time, our fees will typically be relatively the same from year to year other than for cost-of-living adjustments due to the changes in our cost-of-operations.  There are no minimum charges for telephone calls or consultation, whether in person or by phone, but rather the actual amount of time is tracked for future billing purposes.  In some circumstances, that time is only considered in the annual billing for tax services; however in other circumstances that time may be billed when incurred or at another interim time period depending upon the amount of time involved, the nature or the normal services provided to a client and the past history of our client relationship.
  • TAX RETURN REVIEW:
    • Can I prepare my own tax return and have you simply review it?
    • We will process tax returns from information supplied to us on Organizers supplied by us or lists provided by clients or  directly from client documents or from client-prepared tax forms with supporting documents; however, we will NOT simply review client-prepared documents.  This is our policy because  our internal quality control check and review process  requires documentation and computer verification to assure accuracy of the tax return and the resulting computer processed tax return is required to be generated and used in order to validate the terms of our engagement letter representations.
  • CHILDREN’S TAX RETURNS:
    • If you prepare a tax return for my child(ren) will I be charged for that service?
    • Additional tax returns prepared for children or other family members require additional time and costs and so we do charge an additional fee for that additional service, although we typically charge a reduced-rate fee for children’s tax returns with minimal transactions.
  • ESTIMATED TAX DETERMINATION:
    • Will you help me to determine my estimated quarterly tax payments?
    • We typically prepare estimated tax voucher forms for the new year upon completion of the prior year, based upon the prior year income and deductions and/or the information provided by our clients regarding anticipated changes for the new year.  Unless significant changes are expected for the new year, we will recommend using safe harbor calculations to preclude any penalties for underpayment of estimated taxes.  These estimated tax amounts can be recalculated and revised during the year for changes in circumstances, as necessary.
  • ESTIMATED TAX PAYMENT NOTICES:
    • Will you remind me when my estimated tax payments need to be paid?
    • We send reminder letters by the US Postal Service to our clients who make quarterly estimated tax payments to assist them in remembering when to make the estimated payments and in what amounts, as determined when the prior year’s income tax return was prepared.  We do not charge a fee for this courtesy.  We do not take any responsibility for delivery of such letters by the US Postal Service and we take no responsibility for penalties assessed by taxing authorities for late or omitted payment of quarterly estimated tax amounts by our clients.

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Roy & Associates, PC serves clients in western Pennsylvania located predominantly in Westmoreland County, Allegheny County, and Fayette County.

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