FAQ

What kind of work do you do?

We do a lot of personal tax returns. They range from simple returns with just a W-2 to complex returns with multiple investments, businesses and rental properties. If all you have is a W-2 check out our blog for information on filing your return electronically for free.

We do a lot of business returns. These range from a single person corporation doing consulting to complex manufacturing and rental properties. We work with owners who actively manage and, in most cases, do significant work in their businesses. Our clients do not even pop up on the governments statistics but they do represent the strength of the overall economy.

We do a lot of non-profit work. Even though they do not generally pay taxes, non-profits have the most complex filing requirements of my clients. They must deal with the IRS, state tax and legal authorities. Sometime they need financial statements and sometimes they don’t. Doing it wrong can be devastating to a non-profit. A lot of our non-profit clients are small local organization like the PTA or soccer club.

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How are you compensated?

We work almost exclusively with fixed fees. We discuss your needs and then provide a fee for that service. This fee is what you will pay unless things are much different from what you told us when we talked. Fixed fees allow you to make a rational decision based on real information rather than a range of fees or an “about” quote. Over 99% of our revenue is based on fixed fees.

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How much does it cost to have you prepare my personal tax return?

This depends on what is on your return. Do you have a small business or rental property? Do you trade common stocks regularly? Do you have investments in limited partnerships that provide tax information to you at the end of the year? We are happy to provide a fixed fee quote over the phone.

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How much does it cost to have you prepare my business tax return?

This depends on what is on your return. What kind of company do you have, an S Corporation, Partnership, Trust? How many employees do you have? What do you do? From a tax perspective some businesses are simple, some are complex. We are happy to provide a fixed fee quote over the phone.

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Do you charge for phone calls and emails?

Generally, no. The only time we will charge for a phone call is if you know in advance that you will be paying for it.

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What deadlines do I have to meet to work with you?

For your personal returns you need to have everything under your control to us by March 15th in order for your return to be completed by April 15th.

For your business returns you need to have everything to us by a month before your return is due.

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Do you charge for preparing extensions?

Yes, $100.

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When is the best time to get my business information to you?

As early as possible.

You can have your business information completed before the end of January. You need to reconcile your checking accounts and get the January bill from your credit card companies.

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What system do you recommend for keeping track of my business income and expense records?

The key to keeping good records is to be faithful to whatever system you choose. This means that you regularly record your transactions. We suggest daily, weekly or even monthly if you have a simple business.

Most of my clients use QuickBooks. The desktop system is the simplest system that we have seen. Online there are many competitors to QuickBooks all of which work a little differently but do a good job of collecting your information together. We can work with any system.

You can use Quicken or a similar personal finance program to keep track of a small home based business. We suggest using a different data file than the one you use for your personal finances.

We have a few clients who use Excel or similar spreadsheet and then pivot tables to summarize the information. This system requires extreme attention to detail to make sure it is correct.

We do not recommend a box or receipts that you go through at the end of the year to create a scribbled sheet of numbers to give us.

Bringing in a box of receipts to us to sort through will massively increase your fee.

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Do you stand behind your work?

Of course. If we make a mistake we will pay the penalties and interest that are assessed against you. You still pay any additional taxes.

We have a money back guarantee. Sorry, we do not guarantee a refund from the IRS. If you are unhappy with our service, you are entitled to a refund of all or part of your fee.

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What do I get besides a tax return when I use your services?

  1. The first response to any notice from the IRS & a state tax authority for a return that we prepared. The first response takes care of the problem in 95% of the cases. Full blown audits are an exception. You pay us for everything in an audit.
  2. Any amended return that is required for a return that we prepared. This can happen because you forgot to include some significant information, a bank or brokerage firm may change the information that they provided or we made a mistake on the return. We do not want to spend our time arguing about whose fault it is.
  3. Estimates for the following year if needed.
  4. Unlimited phone and email consultations. See the FAQ later for more information.

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Do you file your returns electronically?

We file 99% of our returns electronically.

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What do you do to protect my information from identity theft?

We are very careful with your information. Our internet connection is secured with a complex password and we do not have WIFI in our office. Passwords are needed to access the computers and we log off when out of the office. All paper information is locked up when no one is in the office. We have an office alarm. We are a small office and do not use laptops to deal with client information. We can access our client list on our phone but it is password secured and we keep only demographic information on the phone. No client records, notes or your Social Security Number go to our phone.

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How many trees do you kill a year?

Lots, unfortunately. With the advent of affordable storage options and electronically filed returns, we kill about 25% of the trees that we did a decade ago.

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Do you have evening and weekend appointments?

We meet with clients in the evening and on Saturday if necessary. Sunday we leave to recuperate from the work week. You need to schedule an appointment to ensure that we will be available.

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What are your normal hours?

January through April 15th someone is here six days a week. You can count on 9AM to 5PM. Usually someone is here before 9AM and after 5PM. Fridays and Saturdays we tend to leave a little earlier than the rest of the week.

April 16th to December 31st we are not here Friday’s or Saturday’s unless you make an appointment. Normal hours are 9AM to 4PM but that can be erratic. It is best to make an appointment.

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Do you do kid's returns?

We are happy to do the returns for any of your relatives as part of preparing your return. The fee will increase of course.

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What kinds of things do you do after tax season?

Sleep.

Many clients have their circumstances change and need some advice on dealing with the tax effect of those changes. This can be a job change, starting up a business, buying rental property, an inheritance, divorce and a long list of other things that can happen to people.

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How else can you help me?

We are happy to hear from you and want to help with whatever question you have. We know a lot of people and can provide referrals to all sorts of businesses. We know a plumber and electrician who actually return phone calls. We have a long list of lawyers with many specialties that can help you.

We do get unusual questions. One client asked if we knew someone who could room with their son at college (answer, no). Email or call us if you think we might be of help.

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Do you sell investments or receive commissions?

It is perfectly legal for a CPA to also be a financial planner and handle their client’s investments. Many CPAs do so successfully. We do not do this. When we advise you we do not want to have the conflicting goals of maximizing your assets or our own.

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We put the 'k' in 'kwality'.

Anonymous

 

Got questions?
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tel: 978-486-9855
fax: 978-486-9088
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Vallas & Arrison, PC
312 Great Road
Littleton, MA 01460-0771

2 Burlington Woods Drive
Suite 100
Burlington, MA 01803

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