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Client Demands Copy of 8879

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#1
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Client wants "signed copies of 2019 and 2020".

I explained that e-filed tax returns are not signed - that an authorization is signed.

He wants the 8879.

It is buried in a stack of 1200 of them from 2019 in a box and I don't wish to dig it out for him. I have enough real work to do.

Our signed engagement agreement says that we do not guarantee storage or copies of tax returns.

Client is a PITA and a lawyer - though not the "litigious" type - I'm not worried about being sued, I just want a polite way to tell him no - though I don't care if he is so offended that he goes away.

How would you respond?
 

#2
Joan TB  
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From the instructions for Form 8879, under IMPORTANT NOTES FOR EROs:

Provide the taxpayer with a copy of the signed Form 8879 for his or her records upon request.


I think you have to give him what he asked for.
 

#3
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I think the preparer is supposed to provide the taxpayer a signed 8879 then the taxpayer signs and send it back to the preparer. The preparer is not then obligated to provide a copy to the taxpayer again.
 

#4
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I'd print the 8879, sign it as preparer, and send it to client.
 

#5
jon  
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Signed 8879s are required to be kept for three years. It is a strange request, but probably you should have someone dig and tell him the original sticks with you, as required here is a copy.
 

#6
rotsky  
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In theory....you can scan the whole pile into an OCR PDF and search it for his SSN.
 

#7
ATSMAN  
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Taxpayer has a right to a copy of the tax return filed including 8879 and the state version. I prepare a hard copy or pdf that includes them. That copy already has my signature, then can sign theirs.
 

#8
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Yet another reason to be paperless and they either send you a signed and dated wet ink PDF so it is readily available, or use DocuSign where you can easily save and distribute, plus they receive a copy.

You are required to maintain copies of these for three years. Tax returns are same. Your engagement letter wording is opening you up to a can of words if it is indicating you do not guarantee such records will remain available within the 36 month retention period...

If I had to guess, he is working with some PITA third-party that will not accept an unsigned tax return. That is where the 8879 comes in, though if it is a lender, then they also need to perform their own due diligence by pulling transcripts and verifying the tax return is presented as filed.

Honestly, I am kind of surprised at how many situations you encounter that are normally pretty commonplace and quick to resolve. I do not prepare nearly as many tax returns as you, but I can easily provide any document based on my storage structure. Get rid of the paper, life will be so much simpler.
 

#9
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This "retail" 1040 client came in to review and sign in person and was provided a copy of the signed 8879 and his tax return.

His documents were returned to him with the exception of 1 (of the 4) W2 copies. He was ALSO provided a soft copy of his tax return along with the signed 8879 for secure download, which reminded him that we don't store his documents and the link expires in 120 days so please download it and store it with care.

Our engagement agreement politely reminds the client to retain these copies, and that we do not guarantee the availability of copies to the client - which I'm pretty sure is not required of us (we keep them for the IRS, not for the client).

The reason that we wish to avoid providing copies to clients over and over is the obvious time costs. Also, we don't trust our ability to train admin personnel to do it properly, as we have had many critical failures with that.

His original request was for the 2019 and 2020 tax returns. Which we sent him (I don't believe I was required to, but I did it anyway).

Then he came back with a request for the "signed copies", so we told him about the 8879.

Then he asked for those, and I told him no.

Then he came back with "never mind, I found it, but do you have my 2019 and 2020 W2s?".


The problem we often face with our business model that I'm often looking to solve are these "creeping and never ending requests", which I understand is more easily solved by having a classic CPA firm where you bill by the hour.

That's not what we have, and we do pretty good with value billing, as it often exceeds our listed hourly rates.

The reason I post a lot about these is because I'm looking for solutions to the issues that value-only billing creates with a small portion of our clients.

There are pros and cons of value vs hourly, of course.

I'm often seeking to reduce the cons.

Since I'm getting feedback like "honestly, I am kind of surprised at how many situations you encounter that are normally pretty commonplace and quick to resolve. " perhaps I'm posting too much. I'll tone it down and I appreciate your help. (I don't mean that to be passive-aggressive or anything :) ).
 

#10
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If already provided, I do make it clear to clients that I will provide it one additional time before charging. But, with the exception of scanned copies of their original documents and business eFile forms, everything remains avilable via their portals, so my requests have plummeted since making copies of tax returns and individual eFile forms available via their portals.
 

#11
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I don't think you post too much. So, there's no reason to hold back. If people don't want to respond, that's their prerogative. I think you've initiated some wonderful conversations about the dynamics we all face in our practices.

I might suggest investigating some workflow software that allows clients to access their information independently of action on your part. I'm investigating these solutions right now for my firm and there are many to choose from.
Just my $0.02.
~Captcook
 

#12
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CornerstoneCPA wrote:If already provided, I do make it clear to clients that I will provide it one additional time before charging. But, with the exception of scanned copies of their original documents and business eFile forms, everything remains avilable via their portals, so my requests have plummeted since making copies of tax returns and individual eFile forms available via their portals.


What portal do you use?
 

#13
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ItDepends wrote:It is buried in a stack of 1200 of them from 2019 in a box and I don't wish to dig it out for him. I have enough real work to do.


If you don't want to go digital with this process, perhaps implement a file-folder box with 26 A-Z folders for each tax year. File each 8879 in the applicable folder -- e.g. based on the first letter of the last name of the primary filer. Or, if you find a good number of clients are in one letter/folder, you can subdivide that letter into multiple folders to make things easier -- e.g. Sa-Sm and Sn-Sz -- and forgo letters/folders that don't get used. Might take a year or two to get that system humming along.

It won't get rid of the problem but should alleviate the issue somewhat. Digging through the box is something that can be delegated to an admin staff. There's no reason that you should be doing that.
 

#14
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TaxMan2020 wrote:What portal do you use?


SmartVault
 

#15
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CornerstoneCPA wrote:
TaxMan2020 wrote:What portal do you use?


SmartVault


Not to derail but would each client be an “external collaborator”?
 

#16
ATSMAN  
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If I had to guess, he is working with some PITA third-party that will not accept an unsigned tax return. That is where the 8879 comes in, though if it is a lender, then they also need to perform their own due diligence by pulling transcripts and verifying the tax return is presented as filed.


That is exactly the problem and I have told my clients that if they have to submit a copy of their tax return to a bank, financing company, utility for discounts etc. to ink sign the taxpayer signature line on their hard copy that has their PIN. That seems to solve the problem because those "idiots" at the bank are looking for a wet signature. Perhaps later they may pull a transcript but it stops them from rejecting the return. :twisted:
 

#17
CathysTaxes  
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I've heard of banks complaining if the social security was masked out.
Cathy
CathysTaxes
 

#18
ATSMAN  
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CathysTaxes wrote:I've heard of banks complaining if the social security was masked out.


Yes and the funny thing is that their own bank statements have the last 4 digits of the Account # and SS#.

Do as I say and not as I do :evil:
 

#19
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TaxMan2020 wrote:
Not to derail but would each client be an “external collaborator”?


It is just a platform where each client has a unique portal. No limit on number of clients (there may be a storage limit, but cannot recall and if there is, it was still in excess of what I need). Clients can upload and download, just as I can. The only difference is they cannot delete anything from the portal based on the policies I put in place--only I can delete a file. It is not a collaboration platform.

ATSMAN wrote:That is exactly the problem and I have told my clients that if they have to submit a copy of their tax return to a bank, financing company, utility for discounts etc. to ink sign the taxpayer signature line on their hard copy that has their PIN. That seems to solve the problem because those "idiots" at the bank are looking for a wet signature. Perhaps later they may pull a transcript but it stops them from rejecting the return. :twisted:


I have encountered it and just told clients to submit the signed eFile forms. If banks are too stupid to figure it out, then it just lends credibility to my poor attitude of banks/lenders, overall. I like when I can write letters to banks using langauge as if they are 5 year olds, but then that is insulting quite a few 5 year olds...
 

#20
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Hello, thanks for all the suggestions.

The portal discussion is not a de-rail, IMO, it could actually be a great solution.

We could disclaim that we don't guarantee it, but clients could upload and download (only) in their folders and we can control the rest.

Control is important because we can't have clients deleting the files, etc.

This way when a client requests (pretty much) anything, they can just download it.

For paper only clients, some of which I'm not yet willing to part with, we can utilize a file system as MVT suggests.

I still like all of the 8879 forms with a copy of the WH docs attached all in one box, however.

I want to be prepared for that "compliance audit" if it ever happens. RIA, audits happens often. Not sure of the frequency of 8879 compliance related audits.
 

#21
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ItDepends wrote:
I want to be prepared for that "compliance audit" if it ever happens. ... Not sure of the frequency of 8879 compliance related audits.


I have not observed one in 16+ years. Does not mean they do not occur, but I think they are quite rare for tax preparers on the up-and-up.

The more you can do away with paper files, the better off you will be. We are in 2021, after all, and paper is simply too bulky and costly to deal with from all perspectives (except a book--I still much prefer a book printed on paper vs. reading a screen, though admittedly I am out of shelf space and have had to resort to eBooks). If I need to produce an 8879 from 2017, for example, I can find it in 15 seconds along with all supporting documentation used to prepare the tax return(s).

When a client provides me paper documents, first step is to scan everything and consolidate into a single PDF, and utilize TTC to annotate, link pages, sort, etc. Very useful add-on utility for Adobe Acrobat when you are an accountant/tax preparer. I never begin a tax return until all supporting documentation is scanned, and then I keep everything as paperless as possible from there forward. As missing information is identified and received, it is immediately inserted into the PDF working papers. If a client requests a printed copy of their tax returns, I do maintain the option to charge but since so few now request it, I topically do NOT charge unless it is a 400+ page set of tax returns, for example, that requires supplies and resources to assemble.

Keep this in mind: it is your business, and you ultimately choose who you work with. It is absolutely within your control of what you may dictate clients will and will not do. What I found is that as long as you ease into it, rather than making a number of sudden and significant changes clients must adhere to, is that they are receptive and realize the benefits. Generally by the time you identify who is anti-change, you are at a point where you can disengage from them to further your business objectives and practices.
 

#22
migbike  
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I say do it and then send him a bill for the time. He's an attorney, he'll understand. :lol:
 


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