January 1, 2021
Dear Valued Client:
Subject: Preparation of Your 2020 Individual Income Tax Returns
Thank you for choosing vbCPA, PLLC (“firm,” we,” “us,” or “our”) to provide you with the professional services described below. This letter, and any attached Terms and Conditions Addendums and any other attachments incorporated herein (collectively, “Agreement”), confirm our understanding of the terms and objectives of our engagement and the nature and limitations of the services we will provide. The engagement between you and our firm will be governed by the terms of this Agreement.
Engagement Objective and Scope
We will prepare the following federal and state tax returns for the year ended December 31, 2020:
Form 1040 - U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
State Tax Return(s) - Applicable State Individual Income Tax Return(s)
We will not prepare any tax returns other than those identified above, without your written request, and our written consent to do so. We will rely upon the completeness and accuracy of the information and representations you provide to us to prepare your tax returns. We have not been engaged to and will not prepare financial statements. We will not audit or otherwise verify the data you submit to us, although we may ask you to clarify certain information.
We will prepare the above-referenced tax returns solely for filing with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and applicable state and local tax authorities. Our work is not intended to benefit or influence any third party, either to obtain credit or for any other purpose.
You agree to indemnify and hold us harmless with respect to any and all claims arising from the use of the tax returns for any purpose other than filing with the IRS, state and local tax authorities regardless of the nature of the claim, including the negligence of any party.
Our engagement does not include any procedures designed to detect errors, fraud, or theft. Therefore, our engagement cannot be relied upon to disclose such matters. In addition, we are not responsible for identifying or communicating deficiencies in your internal controls. You are responsible for developing and implementing internal controls applicable to your operations.
This engagement is limited to the professional services outlined above.
CPA Firm Responsibilities
Unless otherwise noted, we will perform our services in accordance with the Statements on Standards for Tax Services (“SSTSs”) issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (“AICPA”) and U.S. Treasury Department Circular 230 (“Circular 230”). It is our duty to perform services with the same standard of care that a reasonable tax return preparer would exercise in this type of engagement. It is your responsibility to safeguard your assets and maintain accurate records pertaining to transactions. We will not hold your property in trust for you, or otherwise accept fiduciary duties in the performance of the engagement.
We will prepare your tax returns based upon your filing status (single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child) as reflected in your income tax returns for last year. If your filing status has changed, you wish to change your filing status, or you have questions about your filing status, please contact us immediately.
If the tax returns prepared in connection with this engagement are filed using the married filing jointly filing status, both spouses are deemed to be clients of the firm under the terms of this Agreement. Both individuals acknowledge that there is no expectation of privacy from the other concerning our services in connection with this Agreement. We are at liberty to share with either of you, without prior consent of the other, documents and other information concerning the preparation of your tax returns.
We may deem it necessary to provide you with accounting and bookkeeping assistance solely for the purpose of preparing the tax returns. These services will be performed solely in accordance with the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. We will request your approval in writing before rendering these services. Additional charges will apply for such services.
Prior year review
Our review of the prior year’s tax return will necessarily be limited and may not find all errors. We will, however, bring to your attention any errors that we find. If you ask us to prepare amended tax returns and address any other matters arising as a result of any error, we will confirm this representation in a separate engagement letter.
Estimated tax payments
You may be required to make quarterly estimated tax payments. We will calculate these payments for the 2021 tax year based upon the information you provide to prepare your 2020 tax returns (the “safe harbor” rule). Updating recommended payments to more closely reflect your actual current year’s income is not within the scope of this engagement. If you would like us to provide this service, we will confirm this update in a separate engagement letter.
Tax planning services
Tax planning services are not within the scope of this engagement. During the course of preparing the tax returns identified above, we may bring to your attention potential tax savings strategies for you to consider as a possible means of reducing your taxes in subsequent tax years. However, we have no responsibility to do so, and will take no action with respect to such recommendations, as the responsibility for implementation remains with you, the taxpayer. If you ask us to provide tax planning services, we will confirm this representation in a separate engagement letter.
This engagement does not include responding to inquiries by any governmental agency or tax authority. If your tax return is selected for examination or audit, you may request our assistance in responding to such an inquiry. If you ask us to represent you, we will confirm this representation in a separate engagement letter.
We will not respond to any request from banks, mortgage brokers or others for verification of any information reported on these tax returns. We do not communicate with third parties or provide them with copies of tax returns.
Any advice we may provide is based upon tax reference materials, facts, assumptions, and representations that are subject to change. Tax reference materials include, but are not limited to, the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), tax regulations, Revenue Rulings, Revenue Procedures, Private Letter Rulings and court decisions. We will not update our advice after the conclusion of the engagement for subsequent legislative or administrative changes or future judicial interpretations. To the extent we provide written advice concerning federal tax matters, we will follow the guidance contained in Circular 230, §10.37, Requirements for Written Advice.
We will use our judgment to resolve questions in your favor where a tax law is unclear, provided there is substantial support for doing so. If there are conflicting interpretations of the law, we will explain the possible positions that may be taken on your return. We will follow the position you request, provided it is consistent with our understanding of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), tax regulations, Revenue Rulings, Revenue Procedures, Private Letter Rulings and court cases. If the IRS, state or local tax authorities later contest the position taken, additional tax, penalties, and interest may be assessed. We assume no liability, and you hereby release us from any liability, including but not limited to, additional tax, penalties, interest, and related professional fees.
Reliance on others
If you wish to take a tax position based upon the advice of another tax advisor, you agree to obtain a written statement from the advisor confirming that the position should meet the “realistic possibility,” “substantial authority,” or “more likely than not” standard, as applicable. In preparing your federal tax return, we are subject to a diligence as to accuracy regarding reliance on others standard, as defined in revisions to Circular 230, §10.37(b). To the extent a position is based upon the advice of another tax advisor, prior to preparing or signing the tax return, AICPA SSTS No. 1 also requires our firm to have a good faith belief that the position has, at a minimum, a “realistic possibility” of being sustained administratively or judicially on its merits, if challenged. Additional charges will apply to such research.
Substantial understatement penalties
The IRS and many states impose penalties for substantial understatement of tax. To avoid the substantial understatement penalty, you must have substantial authority to support the tax treatment of the item challenged by the IRS or have an adequate disclosure of the item. To fulfill the adequate disclosure requirement, you may be required to attach to your tax return a completed Form 8275, Disclosure Statement, or Form 8275-R, Regulation Disclosure Statement, which discloses all relevant facts.
You agree to advise us if you wish to disclose a tax treatment on your return. If you request our assistance in identifying or performing further research to ascertain if there is substantial authority for the proposed position to be taken on the tax item(s) in your returns, and we agree to perform the research, we will confirm this engagement in a separate Agreement. It is your responsibility to contact us if additional assistance is required.
If we conclude as a result of our research that you are required to disclose a transaction on your tax return, you consent to attach Form 8275 or Form 8275-R to your tax return for filing after we discuss the matter with you. If the IRS, state or local tax authorities later contest the position taken, additional tax, penalties, and interest may be assessed. We assume no liability, and you hereby release us from any liability arising from such contest, including but not limited to, additional tax, penalties, interest, and related professional fees for the position taken.
Listed Transactions and Other Reportable Transactions
The law imposes substantial penalties on taxpayers and tax advisors for failure to disclose listed and other reportable transactions on Form 8886, Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement. In general, reportable transactions are potentially abusive transactions identified by the IRS whose primary purpose is tax avoidance, including but not limited to listed transactions, confidential transactions, transactions with contractual protection, loss transactions, and transactions of interest. You agree to advise us of any reportable transactions identified under tax laws and regulations. You agree that it is solely your decision to disclose any reportable transactions in the returns we prepare for you.
You acknowledge your responsibility to inform us of any listed transactions or other reportable transactions as designated by the IRS. You agree to hold our firm harmless with respect to any liability including but not limited to, additional tax, penalties, interest and professional fees resulting from your failure to timely notify us, in writing, of all such transactions in order to facilitate the timely preparation and filing of your tax returns.
Tax return preparer standards, reportable transactions and tax shelters
Pursuant to the standards prescribed in Circular 230 and IRC §6694, we, as tax return preparers, are prohibited from signing a tax return unless we have a reasonable belief that there is substantial authority for a tax position taken on the tax return or we have a reasonable basis for the tax return position taken in the return and we disclose this tax position in a separate attachment to the tax return.
The law imposes substantial penalties on taxpayers and tax advisors for failure to disclose listed and other reportable transactions on Form 8886, Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement. In general, reportable transactions are potentially abusive transactions identified by the IRS that have a primary purpose of tax avoidance, including but not limited to listed transactions, confidential transactions, transactions with contractual protection, loss transactions, and transactions of interest (a definition of “reportable transactions” is located at https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8886 and includes a link to a summary of listed transactions).
The law imposes substantial penalties on taxpayers and tax advisors for failure to disclose tax shelters on Form 8271, Investor Reporting of a Tax Shelter Registration Number. A tax shelter is defined in IRC §6662((d)(2)(C) as a partnership or other entity, investment plan or arrangement, or any other plan or arrangement if a significant purpose of such partnership, entity, plan or arrangement is the avoidance or evasion of Federal income tax.
You agree to advise us of any tax shelters and/or reportable transactions identified in tax reference materials. Unless a reportable transaction is more likely than not to be sustained on its merits, IRC §6662A, Imposition of Accuracy-Related Penalty on Understatements with Respect to Reportable Transactions, requires us to disclose the reportable transaction in a separate attachment to the tax return. Similarly, unless a tax shelter is more likely than not to be sustained on its merits, IRC §6662(d)(2)(C)(ii), Imposition of Accuracy-Related Penalty on Underpayments, requires us to disclose tax shelters in a separate attachment to the tax return.
If you do not consent to a required disclosure, we may be unable to prepare your tax returns.
You agree to hold our firm harmless with respect to any liability including but not limited to, additional tax, penalties, interest and professional fees resulting from your failure to timely notify us, in writing, of any tax shelters and/or reportable transactions identified in tax reference materials in order to facilitate the timely preparation and filing of your tax returns.
Conflicts of interest
If we, in our sole discretion, believe a conflict has arisen affecting our ability to deliver services to you in accordance with either the ethical standards of our firm or the ethical standards of our profession, we may be required to suspend or terminate our services without issuing our work product.
Consent to disclosure of tax return information
The taxpayer(s) authorizes that any and all information furnished to us for or in connection with the preparation of tax returns under this engagement letter may, for a period of up to one year from the date of this engagement letter, be disclosed to a third party bookkeeper, engaged directly or indirectly in providing tax planning or preparation of tax returns. Disclosures under this paragraph may consist of all information contained in tax returns. We will not disclose any identifying client information such as, social security numbers, names, addresses, banking information, or telephone numbers. If the taxpayer wishes to request a limited disclosure of any other tax return information, the taxpayer must inform us.
The taxpayer authorizes that any and all information furnished to us for or in connection with the preparation of tax returns under this engagement letter may, for a period of up to one year from the date of this engagement letter, be disclosed to a third party bookkeeper, located outside the United States, engaged directly or indirectly in providing tax planning or preparation of tax returns. Disclosures under this paragraph may consist of all information contained in tax returns. We will not disclose any identifying client information such as, social security numbers, names, addresses, banking information, or telephone numbers. If the taxpayer wishes to request a limited disclosure of any other tax return information, the taxpayer must inform us. The taxpayer acknowledges that their tax return information may be disclosed to our affiliates, related entities or subcontractors located outside the United States.
We will provide you with an income tax organizer to help you compile and document the information necessary to prepare your income tax returns. You must complete the income tax organizer with accurate and complete information. Income from all sources, including those outside the U.S., is required.
We rely upon the accuracy and completeness of both the information you provide in the income tax organizer and other supporting data you provide in rendering professional services to you.
Online access to information
To the extent you provide our firm with access to electronic data via a local or online database from which we will download your trial balance or other information, you agree that the data is accurate as of the date and time you authorize it to be downloaded.
You are responsible for maintaining adequate documentation to substantiate the accuracy and completeness of your tax returns. You should retain all documents that provide evidence and support for reported income, credits, deductions, and other information on your returns, as required under applicable tax laws and regulations. You represent that you have such documentation and can produce it, if necessary, to respond to any audit or inquiry by tax authorities. You agree to hold our firm harmless from any liability including but not limited to, additional tax, penalties, interest and professional fees resulting from the disallowance of tax deductions due to inadequate documentation.
Gift Tax Returns
The IRS considers a gift to be any transfer to an individual, either directly or indirectly, where full consideration (measured in money or money’s worth) is not received in return. Under federal tax law, certain gifts are taxable and subject to an annual gift tax exclusion amount, which for 2020, is $15,000 per taxpayer. You are responsible for informing us if gift tax returns are required to be filed. If you ask us to prepare these returns, and we agree to prepare these returns, we will confirm this representation in a separate engagement letter.
Gifts received from foreign persons
If you received a gift or bequest from a foreign person or trust, you may be required to file a separate IRS Form 3520, Annual Return To Report Transactions With Foreign Trusts and Receipt of Certain Foreign Gifts or Form 3520-A, Annual Information Return of Foreign Trust with a U.S. Owner. If you ask us to prepare this return, and we agree to prepare it, we will confirm this engagement in a separate Agreement.
You are responsible for ensuring that personal expenses, if any, are segregated from business expenses and that expenses such as meals, travel, vehicle use, gifts, and related expenses are supported by documentation and records required by the IRS and other tax authorities. At your written request, we are available to provide you with written answers to your questions on the types of supporting records required.
State and local filing obligations
On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the long-standing physical presence nexus standard in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. et. al. This decision significantly changes the landscape of sales and use tax compliance, especially for online sellers. If you wish to understand the impact of the decision on your business, please so advise and we will confirm this in a separate Agreement.
You are responsible for determining your tax filing obligations with any state or local tax authorities, including, but not limited to income, franchise, sales, use, property or unclaimed property taxes. If upon review of the information you have provided to us, including information that comes to our attention, we believe that you may have additional filing obligations, we will notify you. You acknowledge that the scope of our services under this Agreement does not include any services related to your compliance with tax obligations other than those identified in the Engagement Objective and Scope section of this Agreement. If you ask us to prepare any other returns, and we agree to do so, we will confirm this engagement in a separate Agreement.
U.S. filing obligations related to foreign investments
As part of your filing obligations, you may be required to make certain information disclosures related to your foreign investments. You are responsible for informing us of all foreign assets owned directly or indirectly, including but not limited to financial accounts with foreign institutions, other foreign non-account investments, and ownership of any foreign entities, regardless of amount.
Based on the information you provide, you may have additional filing obligations including but not limited to:
· Ownership of or an officer relationship with respect to certain foreign corporations (Form 5471);
· Foreign-owned U.S. corporation or domestic disregarded entity (Form 5472);
· Foreign corporation engaged in a U.S. trade or business (Form 5472);
· U.S. transferor of property to a foreign corporation (Form 926);
· U.S. person with an interest in a foreign trust (Forms 3520 and 3520-A);
· U.S. person with interests in a foreign partnership (Form 8865); or
· U.S. person with interests in a foreign disregarded entity (Form 8858).
You are responsible for informing us of all foreign assets owned directly or indirectly, including but not limited to financial accounts with foreign institutions, other foreign non-account investments, and ownership of any foreign entities, regardless of amount. If upon review of the information you have provided to us, including information that comes to our attention, we believe that you may have additional filing obligations, we will notify you.
Based upon the information you provide, we will use this data to inform you of any additional filing requirements, which may include FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (“FBAR”). The FBAR is not a tax return and its preparation is not within the scope of this engagement. If you ask us to prepare the FBAR, and we agree to prepare the FBAR, we will confirm this engagement in a separate Agreement.
Failure to timely file the required forms may result in substantial civil and/or criminal penalties. By your signature below, you agree to provide us with complete and accurate information regarding any foreign investments in which you have a direct or indirect interest, or over which you have signature authority, during the above referenced tax year.
The foreign reporting requirements are very complex. If you have any questions regarding the application of the reporting requirements for your foreign interests or activities, please ask us and we will respond in writing. Only advice that is in writing may be relied upon. We assume no liability for penalties associated with the failure to file or untimely filing of any of these forms.
Foreign filing obligations
You are responsible for complying with the tax filing requirements of any other country. You acknowledge and agree that we have no responsibility to raise these issues with you and that foreign filing obligations are not within the scope of this engagement.
The IRS considers virtual currency (e.g., Bitcoin) as property for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As such, any transactions in, or transactions that use, virtual currency are subject to the same general tax principles that apply to other property transactions.
If you had virtual currency activity during the tax year, you may be subject to tax consequences associated with such transactions and may have additional reporting obligations. You agree to provide us with complete and accurate information regarding any transactions in, or transactions that have used, virtual currency during the applicable tax year.
Other income, losses and expenses
If you realized income, loss or expense from a business or supplemental income or loss, the reporting requirements of federal and state income tax authorities apply to such income, loss or expense. You are responsible for complying with all applicable laws and regulations pertaining to such operations, including the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors and related payroll tax and withholding requirements.
You are responsible for obtaining Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, from each new employee at the time of employment. In addition, Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and the applicable state equivalent should be retained for all employees. Failure to obtain these forms may subject an employer to penalties. Additional state requirements related to employment records may exist. At your written request, we are available to provide written answers to your questions on required documentation.
You acknowledge and confirm that you, in consultation with other professional advisors, as needed, are responsible for determining the correctness of any worker classification. Payroll tax withholding and related employer payroll tax implications result from this determination. We cannot advise you with respect to worker classification and will rely upon your determination of same.
We recommend obtaining a signed contract and signed Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, or Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals), from all independent contractors. You should provide all independent contractors with both forms and let them decide which form (W-9 or W-8BEN) is reflective of their status.
You should also issue a Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, to all unincorporated domestic independent contractors to whom you pay $600 or more for services. For those who provided a completed Form W-8BEN, a Form 1042-S must be issued to individuals if any payment is made from U.S. sources that would be deemed to be fixed or determinable annual or periodical income or other types of income included in the instructions, even if these payments are subject to a reduced income tax withholding rate or are exempt from income tax withholding due to an income tax treaty. In addition, state rules should also be reviewed to determine if state taxes are required to be withheld and separate returns completed for any independent contractor. At your written request, we are available to provide written answers to your questions on required documentation and only written responses from us may be relied upon.
Some of these filings are due as early as January 31, 2021 and significant penalties are assessed for late filing, non-filing and filing of incorrect information. Preparation of these forms is not within the scope of this engagement. If you ask us to prepare these forms, and we agree to prepare them, we will confirm this engagement in a separate Agreement. If you fail to adhere to the filing deadlines, you will be responsible for any penalties, interest and related professional fees for the improper filing.
You have final responsibility for the accuracy of your tax returns. We will provide you with a copy of your electronic tax returns and accompanying schedules and statements for review prior to filing with the IRS, state and local tax authorities, as applicable. You agree to review and examine them carefully for accuracy and completeness.
You will be required to verify and sign a completed Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, and any similar state and local equivalent authorization form before your returns can be filed electronically.
In the event that you do not wish to have your tax returns filed electronically, please contact our firm. Additional procedures will apply. You will be responsible for reviewing the paper returns for accuracy, signing them, and filing them timely with the tax authorities.
Timing of the Engagement
We expect to begin our services upon receipt of this executed Agreement, the completed 2020 income tax organizer and all documents requested either in the organizer or by our office.
Our services will conclude upon the earlier of:
the filing and acceptance of your 2020 tax returns by the appropriate tax authorities and mailing or delivery of non-electronically filed tax returns (if any) to you for your review and your filing with the appropriate tax authorities,
written notification by either party that the engagement is terminated, or
one year from the execution date of this Agreement.
If you have the option to file a paper return and choose to do so, our services will conclude upon the earlier of:
mailing or delivery of your 2020 tax returns to you for your review and your filing with the appropriate tax authorities,
written notification by either party that the engagement is terminated, or
one year from the execution date of this Agreement.
Extensions of Time to File Tax Returns
The original filing due dates for your tax returns are April 15, 2021 for federal and most state returns. Due to the high volume of tax returns prepared by our firm, the information needed to complete the tax returns must be received no later than MARCH 30, 2021 so that the returns may be completed by the original filing due dates.Failure to do so may result in the inability to complete your returns by the original filing due dates.
It may become necessary to apply for an extension of the filing deadline if there are unresolved issues or delays in processing, or if we do not receive all of the necessary information from you on a timely basis. Applying for an extension of time to file may extend the time available for a government agency to undertake an audit of your return or may extend the statute of limitations to file a legal action. All taxes owed are due by the original filing due date. Additionally, extensions may affect your liability for penalties and interest or compliance with governmental or other deadlines.
To the extent you wish to engage our firm to apply for extensions of time to file tax returns on your behalf, you must notify us of this request in writing. Our firm will not file these applications unless we receive an executed copy of this Agreement and your express written authorization to file for an extension. In some cases, your signature may be required on such applications prior to filing. Failure to timely request an extension of time to file can result in penalties for failure to file tax returns, which accrue from the original due date of the returns, and can be substantial.
We are available to discuss this matter with you at your request. Additional charges will apply for such services.
Penalties and Interest Charges
Federal, state, and local tax authorities impose various penalties and interest charges for non-compliance with tax laws and regulations, including failure to file or late filing of returns, and underpayment of taxes. You, as the taxpayer, remain responsible for the payment of all tax, penalties, and interest charges imposed by tax authorities.
We rely on the accuracy and completeness of the information you provide to us in connection with the preparation of your tax returns. Failure to disclose or inadequate disclosure of income or tax positions may result in the imposition of penalties and interest charges.
Our professional fee for the services outlined above will be based upon the complexity of the work to be performed, and our professional time, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. To help you estimate the fees related to the services outline above we have made available a fee estimator on our website at www.vbcpa.tax. In addition, this fee depends upon the timely delivery, availability, quality, and completeness of the information you provide to us. You agree that you will deliver all records requested and respond to all inquiries made by our staff to complete this engagement on a timely basis. You agree to pay all fees and expenses incurred whether or not we prepare the tax returns. To the extent permitted by state law, an interest charge may be added to all accounts not paid within fifteen (15) days.