Who of you work off season with your Audit Committees? i would like your feedback, Please.
Our standard guarantee says that HRBlock will accompany you to an audit and explain how your tax return was prepared. How does staff know how the return was prepared if they don't talk to the original preparer? Are they expert in 4797s, sale of home/part rental, etc.
Does your District Manager take an interest in the audits, or just push POM and cave in to the IRS, rather than defend the tax preparers work?
I am interested in this topic. I happen to be an attorney who wanted to learn tax law "on my feet" and last year took a case to tax court as a volunteer for our local bar association. It was a return prepared by a local firm in another state, for EIC, several dependants, a low wage taxpayer. After using the worksheets, and going to court, we proved that she was entitled to everything she had submitted in her tax return. The IRS was just plain wrong. But paying them off with Peace of MInd doesn't correct heavyhanded methods and errors by the IRS.
They need to eat crow once in a while to keep them on their toes.
Yes we do go to audits, and our DM will have the person who did the tax return work with the person who is going to the audit this person is a EA and has been here forever he is great, but yes the preparer is talked to
"Who of you work off season with your Audit Committees? i would like your feedback, Please"
DISCLAIMER: The information below represents merely my OWN opinion and not those of HRB, its employees, sponsors, etc. But as Michael Feldman would say, they are "well thought out and reosnable".
I am a long time multi-office franchisee. I am an enrolled agent, and I attend all of the audits generated in my complex (in many cases I do not even take the client to the audit - I just go with a POA - those of you that have gone with clients may agree to this).
Having been embarassed in the past, I meet with the client at least once if not twice, depending on their documentation, prior to going to the audit.
I cannot tell you how many July nights I have been up trying to "figure out" what my employee and the client were thinking when they did the return together. I push my employees to use p-notes to document conversations, calculations, and anything relevant the client has said. (For example, I can;t find my mileage log today, but I know I had XXXX business miles).
My employees are bright and hard working. But many of them work part time during the season and don't have large followings of clients. Many times when I call the preparer in the summer, if they are not traveling, they usually don't remember the client (by name), much less details or a conversation that occured two years ago. Fortunately, I have a great group of office managers who reveiw sch C/E/ etc returns given to them by preparers. So most issues are well thought out and reasonable, and the OM can sometimes give me some insight into a return when the preparer cannot.
All of that being said, absent documentation, pnotes, or the preparer remembering the client, I have to side with the client when things "go wrong" at the IRS. That may include filing a POM claim. To be honest (I am trying not to stereo-type), many clients are happt to be made whole by the POM claim and put the matter behind you.
My franchise director does take an interst in POM cliams and is happy to help if asked. Other frnachise owners ask for my help on occasion (and in turn I ask for their help when needed).
I agree the IRS (actually, specific auditors who just don;t care) can be difficult. But a good preparer know when and how to use the Taxpayer Advocate, the Problem Resolution office, and on occasion, National Problem Solving day or the client's Congressman's IRS liason.
Also remember that the POM agreement states that at HRB's discretion they can take an item to court on your behalf.
I hope this gives you some insight!
Berkleyfarms, you make a valid point about representation, but you seem to be mistaken about how POM is paid off. The POM reviewers check each claim to make sure the facts are correct, and if there is a chance the IRS can be fought, the claim will not be paid.
Here in the Erie Pa district, in the past,(I'm not certain where we'll stand after this season) the district office has always been staffed by seasoned preparers. I tell my clients that every day. Yes these people are "experts" in many areas of the tax code. Not necessarily the tax "law" but the code. The preparation of the forms is ocassionally relevant but usually not. As preparers we are to prepare the return as per the clients instructions, but within the tax code as it is written (to the best of our ability). As for audits, we don't have them to speak of. We handle many inquiries, not many audits. Maybe one per year,if that. If we have an audit we send either the District manager who is an Enrolled Agent and can argue before the IRS, or a preparer who is an Enrolled Agent. We here in Erie love a good fight and tell our clients never to just pay a bill received. As for the issue you described, we handle those on a daily basis. Most times the client lied. Those that are legitimate we fight for all the way to the end and we win.....
Consumer Reports has a current article about tax preparation-should you do it yourself?
It credits California and Oregon as the only two states which require tax preparers to be licensed.
The article discusses various preparers from your moonlightlight friend, to the national chain (us) to CPA's and attorneys ($100-$300/hour).
"And as chains try to become one-stop financial shops, you're liely to be pitched everything from refund anticipation loans to second mortages. The company is also touting its Express IRAS,but it also offers a federally insured money-market acont paying only .53 perecent interes. Consumers Union has urged the company to curtail refund-anticipation loans and reform other practices....Preparers should be licensed to sell insurance or securities if they offer them. A prospectus must accompany an investment offer.