Q. I’ve never hired a CPA before, how does the process work?
A. Once a contract is signed and a deposit received, we create a list of information for the client to gather. Sometimes the information comes back quickly, sometimes clients choose to wait several months. Once we receive everything to complete the returns, the turn around is generally a day or two for individual filings up to a week during peak season. After completion, there is a pick-up meeting or I can deliver the returns and request signatures electronically.
If you are unable to meet, we can arrange a phone or video call to discuss options for your filings. We offer complimentary document pick-up and delivery service, and I also visit some long-term clients in their homes if they are no longer able to travel. Please mention your specific needs when you first contact me.
Q: I’m having a difficult time gathering my documentation to complete my returns, but I really need to file. Help!
A. We are a full service firm, and can help obtain information and gather documents on behalf of clients who are having difficulties. It’s always preferable to file and request an installment agreement vs. procrastinating. Plus, virtually every client I deal with feels relieved once their tax filings are complete.
Q. I’ve changed my mind, and no longer want to file my tax returns with you, what now?
If a client chooses to not file their tax returns after placing a deposit on file with the firm, either party may terminate the relationship and we will refund any remaining deposit. However, we do bill in full for completed projects, even if the results are not as anticipated. We do not release any tax returns until the final invoice is paid in full. We also bill a monthly holding fee for files in process waiting on client documentation in our office for more than three months, some exceptions apply.
Q. What if I have a problem with my filings?
A. In virtually every case we will try to remedy the problem by filing an amended return or requesting an abatement of any penalties. If you have additional information to add to a tax return before e-filing and after your review, that is considered a standard part of the engagement. If the issue cannot be remedied, the company is fully insured. In over fifteen years in business, we have never had a claim with substantiation filed against our insurance policy or with the state licensing board.
Q. I don’t understand your billing portal or invoicing process, please explain.
A. I use an on-line portal which allows access to all invoices and payments by clients. An initial invoice is prepared and emailed which is the deposit invoice. Subsequent invoices are for work as it is completed. Once the project is done, the deposit may be rolled forward for future work, or the client may deduct their original deposit from the final invoice when they complete their filings. Please inquire directly if you have questions about billings and payments. Billings are typically sent out monthly, and payments must stay current for me to continue work on your project. Monthly payment plans are also available.
Q. What’s your communication style like?
A. I’ve worked at firms where clients were being called and checked in on frequently. I generally send reminder emails vs. calling. I also text clients vs. calling first as I feel it’s less intrusive. If you prefer phone calls, just let me know.
Q. Some tax preparation firms sell investment products or insurance, what’s your policy?
A. I only prepare taxes. I don’t sell or recommend investment products or specific financial advisors to my clients.
Q. What happens if I’m audited?
A. I am licensed, insured, and able to represent clients in case of an audit.
Q. Some tax offices will no longer accept paper documents, will you?
A. Yes, I understand that not everyone has access to a scanner or the desire to scan and upload their own documents. Some clients feel more comfortable bringing in paper, others share their documents electronically. Please note, we do reserve the right to bill extra for a box of disorganized paperwork vs. an organized electronic folder.
Q. I need assistance, but my funds are limited. Can you help me?
A. One of the things I’m proud of is the large volume of low cost work my former business partner, Roger Keeling, and I did for the community. (Roger left the firm and the tax industry in early 2017 and moved back to Santa Cruz, CA)
We had a reputation for being extremely affordable and in the beginning prepared returns for as low as $50 for low-income clients. We also hired several college interns and disabled individuals and introduced them to the profession. I still do take on a limited number of low income cases per year. Please make me aware of your specific needs when you make an appointment. Another option is to file with CASH, a local non-profit that provides free tax preparation services. I also have the ability to stagger out billings interest free for clients who haven’t filed for several years or who have larger projects to complete.
Q. What happened to the Hawthorne office?
A. After ten years at the 32nd & Hawthorne Blvd. location, I downsized to a smaller office on the west side on Skyline Blvd in 2019. I still bring Leela (my white German Shepherd) to the office with me, and there’s still complimentary snacks and beverages.
Q. Do you offer free consultations?
A. Yes, I offer limited introductory consultations at my office or via Zoom or telephone.
Q. Do you offer referral discounts?
A. Yes! I also host an annual holiday party for all clients who have filed with me for more than one season at a local Portland restaurant as a way to express my appreciation for their patronage. I also send gift cards to non-clients who send people my way.
Q. What payment types do you accept?
A. Checks, all major credit cards, Paypal, Venmo, and cash.
Q. Are there any types of projects you don’t work on?
A. Yes, I have very limited experience in not-for-profit, audit & assurance, business valuation, foreign tax filings, and estate filings over 10M USD. I can refer you to specialists within the state association for any of those specific needs upon request.
Q. Why do other CPA firms have limited information on their websites compared to you?
A. Well, many of them charge considerably higher rates than I do, and as the adage goes….if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. I understand that most clients live within a budget of some kind and I prefer to provide transparency to enable you to choose the best provider for your needs. I’ve always catered to the 99% vs. the 1%. I keep my business overhead intentionally low to create value for my clients.
Thank you for considering Clarity Tax Service.