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How to Address Fee Disputes

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

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In nearly 25 years of practice I have learned that I will not file a tax return until I am paid in full and nor should you.

When there is a fee dispute, I am required under Circular 230 to return all documents to the taxpayer that will allow them to fulfill their tax obligations. I don’t have to give them my workpapers, up to and including depreciation schedules, or any other documentation that I have produced. However, the fact remains that I must return all original documentation to the client.

Throughout my time in practice, I have learned a few tricks. First of all, when I meet a client that hasn’t filed a tax return in many years, I get a large non-refundable retainer. I would like to caution that not all states allow a non-refundable retainer, so be aware. 

There was a recent discussion in a Facebook group I belong to that explored this topic and I felt the responses given were just outright wrong. The situation was a tax professional completed a tax return for a client and there was a fee dispute. 


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