Monday, September 28, 2015


I have often blogged about my obligations as a tax preparer.  But what about the client?  A 1040 client also has obligations, responsibilities and requirements regarding their return.

In the letter that I give to clients with their finished returns I state –

There returns are subject to review and examination by the IRS and appropriate state tax agencies. We accept responsibility for the clerical and mathematical accuracy of all returns I have prepared. However, the burden of proving the facts reported on your tax return rests with you. You are responsible for keeping all of the necessary documentation of the income and deductions claimed on these returns for at least three (3) years.”

This letter also says - 

Please examine these returns carefully to be sure all items of income and deductions have been accounted for properly. You are responsible for all the information reported on the returns. If you find anything that is not in order, or that you do not understand, contact us immediately. It is extremely important that you verify the accuracy of all Social Security numbers on the returns before mailing.

As the NATP Standards of Professional Conduct says –

The client is responsible for any decisions made when the tax return is prepared. When the client signs the tax return, it has the force of an affidavit.

A client should not take the finished returns from his/her tax professional and just sign and mail without actually looking at them. The client should carefully review all the forms and schedules that make up the returns before signing the return, and ask the preparer if there is something that he/she does not understand.

And, as I continue to point out, just because a client does not understand something on a tax return does not mean that there is an error.  Never, never, never preface a question posed to your tax preparer, or a reference to a notice from the IRS or state agency, with the statement, “You made an error on my return”!

A client also has obligations to his/her tax preparer.  The client has the obligation to provide to the preparer all the information necessary to properly prepare a complete and accurate tax return, to be honest with his/her preparer, and to provide any documentation of the information provided if requested.

My 1040 engagement letter includes a section of “Taxpayer Responsibilities”, which includes –

“ • You agree to provide us all income and deductible expense information. If you receive additional information after we begin working on your return, you will contact us immediately to ensure your completed tax returns contain all relevant information.

You affirm that all expenses or other deduction amounts are accurate and that you have all required supporting written records.”  

So if you do your job right I can do my job right.


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