New Client Onboarding and Non-refundable Deposits

I mentioned in the last post and the one before that that during tax season we require a non-refundable deposit at the time of your intake appointment. Some of you may be wondering why we do that. The short answer is that one tax season I got burned by several “clients.” They came in during season to have their taxes prepared and when they didn’t like the results or didn’t like the amount of follow up and due diligence I was doing they decided to go elsewhere. This was after I had already done a lot of work on their returns. So 1) I was not paid for my time and 2) I was not able to take on clients who really did want to work with me. Lesson learned.

“Onboarding” makes the process sound super complicated, but it really isn’t. All paid preparers have to do a certain amount of due diligence for each tax client. At a minimum we have to check your ID to ensure you are who you say you are and collect the information necessary to prepare your tax returns. At a new client intake appointment (what happens when you get onboarded during tax season) we do the following:

  • ID Check for taxpayers and dependents
  • Engagement Letter & Privacy Policy Signed
  • Notice Assurance Program Opt In or Out
  • Client Interview & Question/Answer Session
  • Basic Review of Prior Year Returns
  • Collect your W2s, 1099s, and other information needed to prepare your return
  • Send you home with a list of missing items and information

During the off season I am happy to meet with potential clients and do an ID check, return review, and basic client interview for free. I am happy to spend some time discussing your needs and expectations.. We then send you a reminder at the beginning of tax season to request an organizer. In the meantime, if you have found someone else or have decided to do your own taxes and don’t call for the organizer, it’s not really a problem. We are sorry we didn’t earn your business, but we understand.

During tax season we are less understanding. The preliminary work required to bring in a new client takes 30 minutes to an hour (sometimes more if the tax situation involves a business or complex investments). During tax season our work time is limited and much more valuable (it’s like surge pricing for Uber). So, if we are going to spend the time getting to know you and your situation we want to make sure that you are serious enough about having us prepare your tax returns that you get all the way through the e-filing process and that if you don’t we still get paid for the time spent processing your return.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Tax Therapy is a small business and this is how I earn my living. I appreciate the opportunity to show you just how valuable a good #taxpro can be but to make my business work, I have to stick to the processes and policies that work for me. Right now we are still accepting new clients with a non-refundable deposit. If you are still looking for a #taxpro and would like to schedule an intake appointment please get in touch!