Eff. December 1, 2020
Scope of Engagement
We will prepare your federal and state (if applicable) income tax returns based on your state of residency.
We will not prepare any tax returns except those identified above without your written authorization to do so. We will prepare your tax returns based on information and representations that you provide to us. We will not audit or otherwise verify the data you submit to us, although we may ask you to clarify some of the information. We will prepare the tax returns solely for filing with the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") and state and local tax authorities. They are not intended to benefit or influence any third party, either to obtain credit or for any other purpose.
As a result, you agree to indemnify and hold our firm and any of its partners, principals, shareholders, officers, directors, members, employees, agents or assigns harmless with respect to any and all claims arising from the use of the tax returns for any purpose other than filing with the IRS and state and local tax authorities regardless of the nature of the claim, including the negligence of any party.
We will provide you with an income tax organizer to help you gather and document the information we will need to prepare your income tax returns. It is your obligation to fill out your tax organizer with accurate and complete information and/or provide comprehensive tax information documents, including all worldwide income, with your tax package as delivered to our office.
You are responsible for determining your state or local tax filing obligations with any state or local tax authorities, including, but not limited to income, franchise, sales, use, or property taxes. You agree that we have no responsibility to research these obligations or to inform you of them unless separately engaged to do so. If upon reading the completed tax organizer, it comes to our attention that you may have an obligation to file additional income tax returns, we will notify you of this in writing and ask you to contact us to discuss the filing requirement and arrange completion of those returns.
The Bank Secrecy Act requires the annual reporting of financial interests in or signature authority over foreign bank accounts (including authority comparable to signature authority). Failure to file the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) can result in the imposition of both civil and criminal penalties, which can be significant. The FBAR is not a tax return, and preparation of same is not within the scope of this engagement. In general, if you have assets located outside of the U.S. that exceed US$10,000 at any time during the tax year, you have a foreign asset disclosure filing requirement (FinCEN 114). In addition, certain taxpayers related to foreign corporations are required to file Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect To Certain Foreign Corporations. Significant penalties are imposed on taxpayers for failure to file Form 5471. If you have questions regarding these filing obligations or wish to engage us to prepare such reports or returns, please contact us to discuss these matters. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires certain taxpayers holding an interest in any specified foreign financial assets with an aggregate value exceeding $50,000 to report related information on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. It is your responsibility to inform us in writing if you hold any interest in assets directly or indirectly in a foreign country for completion of the Form 8938 with your federal income tax return. Please contact us if you have any questions on FATCA.
You acknowledge your responsibility to inform us of any bartering transactions, listed transactions or transactions of interest as designated by the IRS. You agree to hold us harmless with respect to any additional taxes, penalties, or interest imposed on you by taxing authorities resulting from your failure to timely notify us, in writing, of all such transactions in order to facilitate the timely preparation and filing of your tax returns.
You are responsible for maintaining adequate documentation to substantiate the accuracy and completeness of your tax returns. You should retain all documents that provide evidence and support for reported income, credits, and deductions on your returns as required under tax law. You are responsible for the adequacy of all such documents. You represent that you have such documentation and can produce it if needed to respond to any audit or inquiry by taxing authorities. You agree to hold us harmless with respect to any additional taxes, penalties, or interest imposed on you by taxing authorities resulting from the disallowance of tax deductions due to inadequate documentation.
The original filing due date for your income tax returns is April 15, 2020 for federal and most states. It may become necessary to apply for an extension of the filing deadline if there are unresolved tax issues or delays in processing, or if we do not receive all of the necessary information from you on a timely basis. All taxes owed are due by the original filing due date. Additionally, extensions may affect your liability for penalties and interest or compliance with government or other deadlines. We are available to discuss this matter with you at your request at our regular hourly fee should the need arise.
CPA Firm Responsibilities
We will prepare your returns based on your filing status (single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household or qualifying widow[er] with dependent child) as reflected in your income tax returns from last year. If your marital status has changed, you want to change your filing status, or you have questions about your filing status, please make notes as appropriate on the tax organizer.
We will use our judgment to resolve questions in your favor where a tax law is unclear if there is reasonable justification for doing so. Whenever we are aware that an applicable tax law is unclear or there are conflicting interpretations of the law by authorities [e.g., IRS and courts], we will explain the positions that may be taken on your return. We will follow the position you request, provided it is consistent with our understanding of the current tax code, regulations, and their interpretation. If the IRS or state tax authorities later contest the position taken, there may be an assessment of additional tax, interest, and penalties. We assume no liability for, and you hereby release us from any such additional tax, interest, and penalties or other fees and assessments.
We may deem it necessary to provide you with accounting and bookkeeping assistance solely for the purpose of preparing the income tax returns. We will request your approval before rendering these additional services. Our engagement does not include any procedures designed to discover fraud, theft, or other irregularities, should any exist.
We reserve the right to withdraw from this engagement without preparing your income tax returns in the event you disagree with our recommendations regarding tax return filing and reporting obligations, tax return positions to be taken, or disclosures to be made in the returns.
Our engagement does not include tax-planning services, which are available as a separate engagement. During the course of preparing the tax returns identified above, we may bring to your attention certain available tax saving strategies (such as available credits, deductions, or deferrals) for you to consider as possible means of reducing your income taxes in subsequent tax years. However, we have no responsibility to do so, and will take no action with respect to any such recommendations, as the responsibility for implementation remains with you, the taxpayer.
This engagement does not include responding to inquiries by any governmental agency or tax authority. If your tax return is selected for examination or audit, you may request that we assist you in responding to such inquiry. In that event, we would be pleased to discuss providing assistance to you under the terms of a separate engagement letter for that specific purpose. You agree that you will not and are not entitled to rely on any advice unless it is provided in writing from our firm. For those clients that have AUDIT PROTECTION in force for the tax year, see separate ‘Terms of Service- Audit Protection’.
If you provide our firm with copies of brokerage (or investment advisory) statements, we will use the information from these statements solely in connection with the preparation of your income tax returns. We will rely on the accuracy of the information provided in the statements and will not undertake any action to verify this information. We will not monitor investment activity, provide investment advice, or supervise the actions of the entity or individuals performing investment activities on your behalf. We recommend that you receive and review all brokerage (or investment advisory) statements promptly and carefully, and direct any questions regarding activities on your account to your broker (or investment advisor).
Timing of the Engagement
We expect to begin the preparation of your returns upon receipt of the completed tax organizer and all tax documents requested either in the organizer or by our office. Our services will be concluded upon delivery to you of your tax returns for your review, signature(s), and filing with the appropriate taxing authorities or upon either of us terminating the engagement by notifying the other in writing.
Penalties and Interest Charges
Federal, state, and local taxing authorities impose various penalties and interest charges for non-compliance with tax law, including, for example, failure to file or late filing of returns, and underpayment of taxes. You, as the taxpayer, remain responsible for the payment of all taxes, penalties, and interest charges imposed by the taxing authorities.
We rely on the accuracy and completeness of the information you provide to us in connection with the preparation of your tax returns. Failure to disclose or inadequate disclosure of income tax or tax positions can result in the imposition of penalties and interest.
The IRS imposes a 20% penalty for substantial understatement of tax. The understatement is considered substantial if it exceeds the larger of 10 percent of the correct tax liability or $5,000 for individuals.
To avoid the substantial understatement penalty, you must have substantial authority to support the tax treatment of the item challenged by the IRS or adequate disclosure of the item. Adequate disclosure requires proper disclosure of the position on the tax return and there must at least be a reasonable basis for the position. A completed IRS Form 8275 or 8275-R, which discloses all relevant facts, must be attached to your tax return to meet the adequate disclosure requirement. A disclosed tax position that meets the reasonable basis standard must have some authority supporting the position and more than just arguable.
You agree to advise us if you wish to disclose a tax treatment(s) on your return. You may request our assistance to identify or perform further research to ascertain if there is "substantial authority" for the proposed position to be taken on the tax items in your returns. If you so request, we would be pleased to discuss providing this additional service to you under the terms of this letter.
Unless an undisclosed tax position meets the substantial authority or "more likely than not" standards, as applicable, we will be unable to prepare the return and will withdraw from the engagement.
Fees and Billings
Our fees are based upon the professional time to complete the work, which will vary from year to year depending on the complexity of the work to be performed. Additionally, this fee is dependent on the availability, quality, and completeness of your records. You agree that you will deliver all records requested by our staff to complete this engagement on a timely basis.
In the event your records are not submitted in a timely manner, or they are incomplete or unusable, we reserve the right to charge for the additional time for services required to correct the problem.
If our engagement is terminated for any reason prior to us delivering you a completed tax return, we reserve the right to invoice you for time and expenses incurred through the notice of engagement termination.
Retention of Records
Our firm will make copies of certain tax return support provided to us for the current tax year, and we will return to the taxpayer all original tax support provided to us. The copies of tax return support and workpapers generated by us in connection with the preparation of your current year and prior year(s) returns remain in our files (as our property) for a period of six years from the date of preparation. When six years from the date of preparation have passed, we reserve the right to securely dispose of such information in our files pertaining to the taxpayer without further notice. We recommend you retain your tax support for each tax year for a period of six-years from the date you filed your return and that you maintain copies of all tax returns filed indefinitely. Further, we recommend you retain tax records to support your cost or tax basis in your assets while you own the asset and for the six-year period subsequent to claiming gain / (loss) on the tax return for the year in which the asset is disposed. If you make gifts of noncash assets, we recommend you document your tax basis in the gifted assets, and you formally communicate the basis (with copies of the support) to the recipient of the gift (the recipient assumes your tax basis).
CPAs are bound by professional standards of confidentiality that are more stringent than those required by federal laws. During the process of performing our tax preparation services, we receive nonpublic personal information about you that is either provided to us by you or obtained by us with your authorization. For current and former clients, we do not disclose any nonpublic personal information obtained in the course of our practice except as required or permitted by law. Permitted disclosures include providing information to our employees, and in limited situations with your prior approval, to unrelated third parties who need to know that information to assist us in providing services to you (e.g. attorneys, financial advisors, etc.). In all such situations, we stress the confidential nature of information being shared.
In order to guard your nonpublic personal information, we maintain physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards that comply with our professional standards. Your privacy, our professional ethics, and the ability to provide you with quality tax services are very important to us.
Termination and Other Terms
We reserve the right to withdraw from this engagement without completing the returns if you fail to comply with the terms of this letter or as we determine professional standards require. If any portion of this agreement is deemed invalid or unenforceable, such a finding shall not operate to invalidate the remainder of the terms set forth in this letter.
Your providing us with your tax information and/or completed tax organizer shall serve as your confirmation and acceptance of the terms of service as described in this letter. Any changes in our understanding shall only be binding if in writing and signed by both parties.
We appreciate the opportunity to be of service to you.
Eff. December 1, 2020
This optional service is designed to eliminate your worry about professional fees from our firm for representing you should the taxing authorities select your federal, state, or local individual income tax returns for correspondence or audit. The IRS and states mail millions of letters annually!
Audit Protection will provide the following services relating to your federal, state, or local income tax returns filed for tax years where Audit Protection is accepted by you:
1. Should your return(s) be selected for audit, our firm will represent you before the Internal Revenue Service, up to the Board of Appeals level, or its equivalent, with the State of Missouri (or any other applicable states/localities for which we prepared your income tax return) until the audit is concluded. There are no limitations on the amount of time to be expended by our professional staff. We will work until the job is done to protect your interests!
2. We will also respond on your behalf to any and all correspondence from federal, state, or local taxing authorities involving the tax year for the income tax returns prepared by our CPA firm.
This service covers the professional fees incurred for our firm's representation only and does not include any representation before a court or other hearing commission where representation by an attorney is required. If you elect to accept the coverage, you will not have to pay our firm any professional fees for work performed relating to the audit or correspondence for your income tax returns. However, you will remain responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by our firm on your behalf as well as any additional tax, penalties, and interest that may be assessed by taxing authorities resulting from the audit or correspondence.
What Should I Do if I Desire Audit Protection Coverage?
Audit Protection is entirely optional. Included with you invoice for tax preparation services is a separate line item identified as Audit Protection. If you desire the coverage, include the Audit Protection fee in your remittance. Your remittance commences coverage, and you will remain covered for federal, state, & local income tax returns for the tax year indefinitely into the future. If there is no Audit Protection fee indicated on your invoice, you are not eligible for the coverage.
What Should I Do if I Do Not Desire Audit Protection Coverage?
If you do not desire the coverage, you should only pay the balance on the invoice as shown for the line "Balance Due Without Audit Protection". Should your return be selected for audit or if we are requested to respond to correspondence from the federal, state, or local taxing authorities, we will represent you and professional fees will be billed based on standard hourly rates then in effect.
What if my Invoice Does Not Show Audit Protection Coverage as an Option?
Our firm offers audit protection coverage based on our assessment of the risks involved in your particular circumstance. In cases where we feel there is too much risk for the audit protection fee to justify our potential exposure, we will not offer the protection for that particular tax year. We reserve the right to refuse to offer audit protection to any client for any tax year. However, once accepted using the procedure above, we will honor all audit protection services for that client for the year coverage was accepted.
Be advised that if you do not elect to coverage when paying the original invoice, audit protection cannot be instituted at a later date.
Effective January 1, 2021
Bender & Company CPAs, PC appreciates the opportunity to provide payroll services to our clients. To ensure an understanding between us, this letter sets forth our terms of service as well as the nature and limitations of our services to you.
SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED
The following payroll services will be provided by our firm:
SERVICES NOT PROVIDED
We will not audit or verify the information that you provide to us. If we detect amounts that appear unusual, we will call them to your attention. However, we are not responsible for the detection of errors, irregularities, theft, fraud or illegal acts. We also have no responsibility to identify and communicate deficiencies or weaknesses in your internal controls. We do not provide legal services and cannot act on your behalf with the IRS, state, or any other taxing authorities (although we can communicate with the IRS, state, or other authorities to resolve account issues or notices after receiving proper authorization). We have the ability to print checks on your behalf using a digital signature, but we will never manually sign a check on your behalf. You are responsible for providing all check stock or will be billed for the cost of check stock obtained by us. Unless otherwise arranged, we will not update payroll tax or employee information, process your payroll, make tax payments, or file tax forms without information or authorization provided by you.
It is your responsibility to obtain and retain the required government forms and documents for all employees. These include, but are not limited to, Federal and State W-4’s, Federal I-9 and employee direct deposit authorization forms. We will work with you to setup new employees and pay types as necessary throughout the year. We will not audit the information or timesheets you provide to us. It is your responsibility to provide accurate and complete information. Should an error arise due to incorrect information you provide to us, you will be billed at our normal billing rate to correct such error.
Once payroll has been processed, all paystubs, reports, tax filings, payment confirmations, etc. will be uploaded to your secure portal. It is your responsibility to check the secure client portal to confirm all dates, amounts, and deadlines. Where possible, we will schedule payments of your tax liabilities electronically. It is not our responsibility to confirm funds are available prior to scheduling such payments. If paper filings and/or manual payments are required, it is your responsibility to monitor your mail for such forms, and sign and remit all filings by the due date.
It is your responsibility to notify us of any changes to bank accounts involved in payroll processing. As payments are often scheduled days or weeks in advance, it is advised that you contact us before closing any account used in payroll processing to ensure all outstanding payments are addressed. Late payment or insufficient fund penalties are not our responsibility if we are not timely notified of account changes. Any changes made to accounts used to pay direct deposit net pay can take up to two payroll cycles to fully take effect due to required verification processes.
Please note it is your responsibility to download and save all paystubs, reports, tax filings and payment confirmations from your secure online account. Your secure online account is a means for exchanging information in a secure manner and is not intended for long-term document storage. While it is our intention to retain documents in your secure portal for at least 12 months, we reserve the right to delete information older than 12 months from your secure online account without advance warning or notice.
You are responsible for the security of your online login and password information. You will not hold us responsible for any fraud, theft, errors, or other acts which occur as a result of access to your account using your login and password, whether or not you authorized that access.
Unless otherwise arranged, you are responsible for providing all employer and employee tax ID’s, bank account information, year-to-date payroll, tax payments, frequency of tax payments, and other information needed to correctly process payroll, compute tax liabilities or make electronic payments and filings. You are responsible for forwarding all payroll notices and letters to our attention on a timely basis, and understand we are not at fault for any processing errors that arise from lack of timely notice.
You are responsible for submitting payroll hours by the designated day and time established by our firm. Payroll hours and information should be submitted in the form of a timesheet that has been developed and agreed on by our firm (except for clients will 100% salaried employees, in which case timesheets would not be necessary). If no explicit timeframe has been provided, you are responsible for submitting your payroll hours no later than 12:00PM on the day it is required to be processed. While we will try to accommodate late submissions, we cannot guarantee timely processing if payroll hours are submitted after the 12:00PM deadline. You understand any information received after 12:00PM may not be processed until the following business day and/or may be subject to a rush processing fee.
Further, you acknowledge occasions such as banking holidays and personnel vacations may occasionally interfere with your normal payroll processing schedule. You are responsible for working with our firm to develop an alternate schedule for any impacted processing times to ensure payroll processing deadlines are met.
FEES FOR SERVICES
Fees for the services above are based on our pricing schedule in effect when the payroll is run. The per-payroll fee is variable based on a number of factors, including the number of checks/direct deposits included in the payroll, the number of state/local jurisdictions, whether we are providing envelopes for paper checks, etc. Additional fees that may be imposed include: W-2 processing, rush processing, additional copies, courier services, individual check packaging and employee information modifications. You understand pricing is reviewed annually and subject to change.
You are responsible to track payments to subcontractors whether or not paid through our system and provide that information at year-end for Form 1099 processing. Subcontractor processing fees are based on the number of payments in each run. Additional fees that may apply include: 1099 year-end processing, rush processing, additional copies, courier services, individual check packaging, subcontractor information modifications, etc.
Fees for services will be included in monthly billing and are payable by cash, check, or credit card. Automatic credit card billing is available upon request. Please contact our Office Manager if you have questions about submitting payment.
In accordance with our firm policies, work may be suspended if your account becomes overdue and will not be resumed until your account is paid in full. If we elect to terminate services for nonpayment, our engagement will be deemed to have been completed upon written notification of termination, even if we have not completed certain portions of your payroll that are due in the future (monthly/quarterly filings, year-end processing, etc.). You will be obligated to compensate us for all time expended and to reimburse us for all out-of-pocket expenditures through the date of termination.
TERMINATION AND OTHER TERMS
We reserve the right to withdraw from this engagement without completing additional services if you fail to comply with the terms of this letter or as we determine professional standards require. You retain the right to suspend future payroll services upon written notification to our firm. In the event of a termination of services, we both agree to cooperate to ensure a smooth transition of services. Additional billings may apply for time incurred during a transition of services. This time will be billed at our standard hourly rates in effect at the time.
If any portion of this agreement is deemed invalid or unenforceable, such a finding shall not operate to invalidate the remainder of the terms set forth in this letter.
Your providing us with payroll information and/or our continued payroll processing shall serve as your confirmation and acceptance of these Terms of Service as described in this letter. Any changes in our understanding shall only be binding if in writing and signed by both parties.