How much do you charge to prepare a tax return?
This is our most common question. If you are shopping for price, we may not be the right tax office for you. Our pricing is based on a per form fee.
Everyone seems to have a “simple” tax return until we get into it. If it was that simple you would be completing it on your own.
Much like taking your car to a mechanic and asking what it wrong with it. We are not familiar with what your tax situation is or what is involved with your taxes. We need to go through our interview process and review the information that you have. After doing an “inspection” of your situation we can then give you a rough estimate as to what it may cost to complete your tax return.
Do I need to make an appointment?
Our office operates on appointments. Most of our preparers are pre-booked a year in advance and have limited availability during Tax season. The best way for us to accommodate you and your tax needs is to schedule an appointment with one of our available tax preparers. The front office staff handles the appointments and scheduling for our preparers. Please contact the front desk to schedule your appointment.
Why am I prescheduled for next year?
We utilize a preschedule process for the following tax season. Once you are an established client you will come in for your regularly scheduled appointment, at which time the front desk will preschedule you for next year’s appointment. We try to make the appointment consistent to your schedule annually. This worked for you so we just do the same for the following year. If you need to change your appointment we will do our best to find a time that is more suitable for you. Keep in mind that your preparer may have limited availability so you may not get an appointment for quite some time. Please make every effort to make it to your scheduled appointment. When you cancel last minute or don’t show up you waste very valuable time not only for your preparer but for anyone else who may need an appointment. Please be considerate during the tax season “crunch” about your appointment. We do everything we can to remind you of this appointment in advance.
What is an Enrolled Agent (EA) ?
An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.
Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.
I thought you were e-filing my return, what am I picking up?
South Beach Tax electronically files your tax return. However, your physical paper copy of the tax return that we prepared is assembled and placed in a folder for your records, along with any original documentation that was used to prepare the return. You should keep this copy with your important papers as you may need to refer to them in the future.
You may need a copy of your tax return when applying for a mortgage. If you do not want to receive a paper copy of your return and support documents, let your preparer know.
Why do you require a signature to e-file my return?
Form 8879 is the E-File authorization form. This form grants us permission to electronically file your tax return. While the IRS never sees this form and it is not submitted with your return, we are required to have you sign the form. When you sign this form you are agreeing to the accuracy of the prepared tax return.
I owe money, how do I pay the IRS if my return is E-Filed ? What if I can’t pay it all ?
If you owe taxes, the IRS offers several options where you can pay immediately or arrange to pay in installments:
- Provided voucher. If you are a client of ours and you owe we will provide you a voucher and envelope to mail your check in to the IRS. When you pick up your copy of the return we will go over the directions for you.
- Electronic Funds Withdrawal. Pay using your bank account when you e-file your return. This can be set up when we complete your tax return. The money is withdrawn from your account on a date that you choose.
- Direct Pay. Pay directly from a checking or savings account for free. This is completed online through the IRS.gov website. There is no fee for this type of transaction. You will log-in and complete this process when it is convenient for you.
- Credit or debit cards. Pay your taxes by debit or credit card online, by phone, or with a mobile device. This is also completed through the IRS.gov website. You will be redirected to an outside processing website. Once there you can enter your credit card information. They do charge a percentage for the credit card fees.
- Pay with cash. You can make a cash payment at a participating retail partner. Visit IRS.gov/paywithcash for instructions.
- Installment agreement. You may be able to make monthly payments, but you must file all required tax returns first. Apply for an installment agreement through the Online Payment Agreement tool. An explanation of applicable fees and interest charges is outlined.
If you can’t pay you should still file your return. Without getting into too much detail, the penalty for failure to file your tax return in a timely manner is 10 times greater than the penalty for failure to pay. You’re charged interest and penalties on any unpaid balance, but it’s far better than the alternative.
How long should I keep my copies of tax returns?
- Keep records for 3 years if situations (4), (5), and (6) below do not apply to you.
- Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.
- Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
- Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.
- Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.
- Keep records indefinitely if you file a fraudulent return.
- Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
When are the filing deadlines ?
If you’re a calendar year filer and your tax year ends on December 31, the due date for filing your federal individual income tax return is generally April 15 of each year. If you use a fiscal year (tax year ending on the last day of any month other than December), your return is due on or before the 15th day of the fourth month after the close of your fiscal year. If your due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the due date is moved to the next business day.
Your return is considered filed on time if the envelope is properly addressed, has enough postage, is postmarked, and is deposited in the mail by the due date. If you file electronically, the date and time in your time zone when your return is transmitted controls whether your return is filed timely. You will later receive an electronic acknowledgement that the IRS has accepted your electronically filed return.
Extensions to file* – If you cannot file by the due date of your return, you should request an extension of time to file. To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you can file Form 4868. File your extension request by the due date of your return. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay so you’ll owe interest if the tax you owe isn’t paid by the original due date of your return. You may also be subject to a late-payment penalty on any tax not paid by the original due date of your return.
Generally corporate filing deadline is March 15 which can be extended to September 15
Personal filing deadline is April 15 which can be extended to October 15. (* see extension to file guidelines above)
Do you need last years tax return?
If we prepared your return last year we do not need it to complete the current year tax return. We have all of your information in the program and a hard copy in your file folder. If you used a different preparer/company last year we would like to get a copy of that return. We like to to review it and it helps us gain insight into your particular tax situation.
Why can’t I get a hold of my preparer when I call / haven’t they called me back?
Most individuals are filing their taxes within a 3-month time span. This means that some of our preparers see up to 8 clients a day, 5-6 days a week. They usually have enough time to squeeze in a lunch break, but they are seeing clients every hour on the hour. They will respond to your phone call/ voicemail as soon as they can. It may be after the office is closed or the next day. Emailed questions often result in multiple volleys of questions, as well.
What information do you need to complete my return?
Follow this link to our Appointment Planner https://southbeachtax.com/client-center/appointment-planner-2/ . This will help you gather your information for your tax appointment.
What information do you NOT need/want to complete my return?
Please do not bring in your boxes of receipts or 12 months of bank /credit card statements. All of those documents are for YOUR records and should be kept to validate the information on your tax return. The more paper work and totals that WE have to compile, the pricier your return will be, and it will take longer to complete.
What is the preload/drop off for?
Our preload/drop off was set up to give our tax preparers time to enter your tax information into the program before your appointment. This allows them to contact your prior to your appointment and make you aware of information that you may be missing. It also takes advantage of the time that you have for your appointment to do a thorough interview, answer any of your questions and hopefully complete the return before you leave. We understand that you may not always have all of your information at the time, but it gets a lot of the housekeeping out of the way that needs to be done.
How can I get you my information?
There are numerous ways to get us your information. We strongly recommend that you make copies of your documents before you get it to us. Many times these are the only copies that are readily available. You may drop your info off at the front desk during our office hours. If you wish to drop the info after hours we do have a secure drop box that comes directly into the building. Many clients utilize USPS, FedEx and UPS to send their information in. We strongly suggest if you are using USPS that you send your info via Priority mail, which will give you a tracking number.
You may scan and send your documents via email. Many documents are available online and easy to send to us. If you are scanning and sending your information please be sure that your documents are flat and easy to read. PHOTOS of your documents taken with your phone are hard to read and cannot be magnified or printed. Please send only PDF’s of your documents. All cell phones have the ability to scan documents. Follow the corresponding link to your phone on how to scan on a cell phone.
iPhone or iPad: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210336
Android & Google: https://support.google.com/a/users/answer/9308884?hl=en
When you scan your documents please be sure that they are legible and flat. Wrinkled paper is very difficult to read.
When emailing your information please DO NOT SEND to your tax preparer directly. If you are unsure where to send your documents please contact the front office. (For the protection of our main email account we do not list it on our website)
Our support staff will print out emails, reply that they have been received, then log them into our system. If you send documents directly to your BUSY preparer, these steps may not happen. Each email user is confidential , therefore when you call to see if your preparer has received your documents we will not know.
If you utilize a mail delivery or private service to send your information to us, your tracking number will act as proof that it has been delivered. We stamp the date that we receive the information, how it was received and log it into our system. This ensures that when you call that we know when, where and how we received your information.
Additionally you may FAX your information to us. While fax machines have become a thing of the past, we still maintain a Fax line for your convenience. Most UPS, and FedEx stores still have fax machines that are available for a fee.
Finally, to maintain a secure IT environment, we do not prefer USB drives. However, if this is your only option we will accept thumb drives with your information on them. Please take the time to create a folder and place the documents for the tax year that needs to be completed with only the documents needed to complete the return. We strongly encourage you to have a back up of this drive. If for some reason there is an issue with your thumb drive and it is accidentally erased you don’t want this to be your only copy of your information. Please make sure that your name is printed on the thumb drive.
How long do I have to claim a refund?
You can only claim a tax refund you are owed for three years following the original due date. Once this date had passed, the money goes to the U.S. treasury.
This includes the years that the IRS April 15 deadline was extended, due to the pandemic. For example: The tax year 2019 deadline was extended to July 15, 2020 you only have until April 15, 2023 to claim your refund.
Helpful Hints for supplying us your documents.
When emailing or supplying documents PDF’s are best. Here are some reasons why and some tips to get them to us in the best possible ….
- Do not hold your documents up when scanning. This tends to result in a blurry, crooked picture with light and shadows obscuring the data.
- Multi tabbed spreadsheets are often vague. Additional tabs may have pertinent information, but were not renamed. Therefore, we are unaware to look for additional information.
- Photos of documents usually cannot be enhanced enough to print a clear copy. They usually end up printing as a black box.
- PDFs ensure that we all have the proper programs to view & print the documents. Pdf’s can be read by most devices and computers and they are not inadvertently altered.