This is a sample high-value agreement for small business accounting services that incorporates cost-saving technologies and procedures to save time and money while maintaining a high level of professional service (revised July 22, 2018).
B) Work Process
D) After End of Agreement
E) Miscellaneous Provisions
Thank you for choosing me to help you with your accounting. My goal is to minimize the time, stress and cost of the accounting experience while providing the specific information you need on a timely basis. Clear communication plays an important part in this process. This letter confirms the terms of my engagement with you and outlines the nature and extent of the services that I will provide.
“I” and “me” used throughout this agreement refers to Tony Novak, my supervised staff, service providers and contractors. “You” refers to you and your spouse, if applicable, and any dependent on the tax return or other person who provides tax information. “Writing” includes text messages and email communications.
NON-SECURE COMMUNICATIONS: Non-secure communications about this service can be made through any of the following: Email: email@example.com, Bus. Phone: (610) 572-1724, Cell/text: 856-237-9199, Fax: 888-581-0748, Mail: PO Box 333, Newport NJ 08345, Skype: novak.tony, or Facebook messenger account: Onlineadviser. I will provide informal updates on a more or less weekly basis throughout the engagement. If you do not receive these communications then it is your responsibility to ask about the status of the engagement.
SECURE COMMUNICATIONS: Secure communications through a document portal are described separately in this agreement. The secure document portal is private, password protected. and under your control.
B) WORK PROCESS
WORK TO BE COMPLETED: Unless otherwise stated as described under the “Special Circumstances” section below, I will complete the following work as part of this engagement.
1. Setup an online accounting system with QuickBooks Plus and connect the business bank accounts.
2. Electronically deliver the agreed-upon work product or report, unless paper filing or other arrangements are agreed.
3. Provide an electronic copy of all documents via secure private online document portal. A paper copy of the tax return is available on request at a standard fee.
4. Communicate with you directly in person, by telephone and email during the engagement.
5. Provide information to allow you to file local income taxes directly online or by mail, if applicable, in the most efficient manner. Unless otherwise stated, this engagement does not include the filing of any tax return.
LIMITATIONS OF WORK: My work in connection with the accounting services does not include any procedures not listed above. If you have accounting obligations for other entities, other periods of time, in other countries, in other states or tax returns for local governments that are not listed above then we agree that I am not engaged to work on those requirements or reports. My work is not designed to discover defalcations or other irregularities, should any exist. I will use my judgment in resolving questions where the tax law is unclear, or where there may be conflicts between the taxing authorities’ interpretations of the law and other supportable positions. Unless otherwise instructed by you, I will resolve such questions in your favor whenever possible.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES: You are responsible for providing required tax documents and other information that may be requested. We will depend on you to provide the information needed to prepare complete and accurate returns. I may ask you to clarify some items but will not audit or otherwise verify the data you submit. Review all tax-return documents carefully before signing them.
PRIVACY AND SECURITY: I follow a privacy and security policy that meets or exceeds industry standards. The policy is available online at http://tonynovak.com/privacy-and-security/ and is not produced here. If you want an electronic or paper copy of the policy, please let me know. You are not required to adhere to any specified privacy and security standard. You may take the lead in modifying the standard and I may follow your lead. For example, if you ask a question about your taxes in a public area and I answer, then that changes the level of privacy. You may submit documents via text message and I may respond to the same text message number with personal tax information.
PASSWORD PROTECTED DOCUMENTS: Documents that I send may be protected by a password. If applicable, the password will be sent separately.
ONLINE DOCUMENT HANDLING: I will provide a private secure online portal as the safest and most reliable way to deliver electronic documents. The preferred and most common electronic document format is PDF. Other communication methods are accepted (fax, mail, email, text, etc.) however, you assume the additional security risk if you elect to use those less secure methods. I will retain electronic copies of your records and our work papers for your engagement for seven years. Paper copies of documents are available at an additional fee. There is no extra charge for electronic copies of documents.
PAPER DOCUMENT HANDLING: If we accept any original paper records from you, they will be returned to you as soon as possible. You should store original paper records, along with all supporting documents, canceled checks, etc., as these items may later be needed to prove accuracy and completeness of a tax return. I recommend that you scan and save electronic copies of all original paper documents and I offer this service at a standard. Otherwise, I do not keep copies of original paper documents. If you require paper copies of documents then you authorize my use of a third party document printer, like a print shop, and accept the security risks that may be associated with paper documents. There is a charge for handing, copying, scanning, and mailing paper copies of documents. If you have not selected to e-file your returns with our office, you will be solely responsible to mail the tax returns with the appropriate taxing authorities unless we make other written recommendations.
TIMING OF WORK: Timing of this engagement is critical. Unless otherwise stated as described under the “Special Circumstances” section below, completion of this work is expected on or before the filing due date. The work under this engagement starts when the agreement is signed and delivered and payment of the online invoice is received. The timing of completion of work is largely dependent on the date of delivery of requested information. I will communicate in writing of the expected completion of work date, review date and the filing date. I will also communicate any change in the expected dates in writing within 48 hours of any such change.
FEE: The fee is communicated separately in an invoice from me that becomes part of this agreement by reference. The fee for some standardized services is based on a standard published Fee Schedule that is available on request and ten customized to incorporate the details of our work plan and anticipated timing. The fee may be raised by agreement to include a surcharge during rush periods that typically occur before tax filing deadlines.
ADDITIONAL FEES: Unless we have reached another fee arrangement in writing, an additional fee of $15 applies if payment is made in cash, manual check, or if payment is not made prior to the end of the engagement. Additional fees apply to paper handling as described below. If a fee remains unpaid 15 days after the end of engagement an additional fee applies and the account is then managed by a separate account receivables contractor. There may be an additional fee if total communications of all types (in-person, email, telephone, text) between us on the work on this engagement is significantly more than normal for this type of work. An extension filing fee applies if we are unable to meet the tax filing deadline due to late arriving information.
FINANCE AND COLLECTION CHARGES: A finance charge of one and one half percent (1½) per month, which is an annual percentage rate of eighteen (18) percent, is charged on past due balances. In addition to the above, if outside services, agents or legal counsel are assigned to collect any past due balance(s), the customer agrees to pay our collection fees which are 50% of the outstanding balance plus any other expenses incurred as a result of the collection process including court costs, cost of service etc.
COST-SAVING MEASURES: The lowest fee quoted in the Fee Schedule presumes the use of cost-saving measures including the use of a tax organizer document or online accounting software, online document storage and transfer, avoidance of paper documents, electronic invoice and payment, without additional accounting services or out-of-pocket expenses. You are not required to use these cost-saving tools, however, but I want you to know how these technologies affect the price of tax services. If cost-saving measures are not used, my fee will reflect the higher costs.
THIRD PARTY PAYMENTS AND DISCOUNTS: I try to negotiate discounts on products and services that I purchase and offer to sell to you and, whenever possible, I try to receive a commission or referral fee for products and services that I recommend to you. Any discount or payment that I receive is considered in the overall price of future services that I offer to you as an additional cost saving measure. You have a right to know the specific details of the discount I receive or fee that I am paid by a third party, however, I often do not know this in advance of a transaction so this is disclosed and incorporated into the next practical engagement agreement.
PAYMENT: Payment is due when I send the invoice; typically during the final stages of the engagement but could b earlier for new clients or under other circumstances. The invoice is usually sent by email that can be quickly and safely paid directly online by following the instructions on the invoice. Payment may be made through the secure 3rd party payment processing system linked to the invoice. Most clients use the QuickBooks Payments “click and pay” from the electronic invoice. You may elect to initiate payment through another payment processor of your choice like PayPal or Venmo. Payment may be made from any bank account (using your bank routing number and account number), bank card or credit card for the payment.
DISCOUNT OR REFUND POLICY FOR REFERRALS: The fee fee under this agreement will be fully (100%) discounted or refunded to you upon completion of four new client referrals for similar work to us before the filing date. A referral form is included with the delivery of tax return documents.
D) AFTER END OF AGREEMENT
END OF ENGAGEMENT: Our engagement ends with the delivery of the completed documents to you for paper filings or our confirmation of filing of your tax return for e-filed tax returns.
EARLY END OF ENGAGEMENT: In the event that either of us encounters unexpected difficulties in completing the tasks anticipated under this agreement, we may opt to end this engagement before the time described above in the “End of Engagement” section by giving written notice. There may or may not be a reason stated for the early termination and we may recognize that a termination without stated reason is in our collective best interests to avoid further conflict. In the event of early termination, the fee for the engagement will be reduced to half of the amount described in the “Fee” section above. All work will stop at the point of notice and provisions included in the “Work to be Completed” section above will no longer apply. Both of us acknowledge that these simple provisions in this “Early End of Engagement” section are intended to be used as a pre-agreed compromise agreement to resolve a potentially stressful situation in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
POST-ENGAGEMENT QUESTIONS: Sometimes questions arise after the end of this engagement. In this case, I may be available upon request to provide additional service. Letters from IRS, state and local tax authorities are common and do not always require the re-engagement of a tax professional. I may require a new engagement agreement and fee to address some types of questions.
RE-OPENING AND AMENDING THE WORK: In some cases it becomes necessary or advisable to respond to a third party notice or to amend the work product. In this case, I may be available upon request to provide additional service. The terms of this service and the cost of this service are not covered in this engagement agreement. Please be aware that the cost of amending an accounting report can be substantial; sometimes even exceeding the cost of the original accounting report.
IN THE EVENT OF AUDIT: Your returns may be selected for review by the taxing authorities. Any proposed adjustments by the examining agent are subject to certain rights of appeal. The procedures and fees for representing you in an audit are not included in this agreement and no assurance is provided in this agreement that I will be available for representation in an audit.
PENALTIES: The law imposes penalties when taxpayers underestimate their tax liability or other reporting obligations. Please call me if you have concerns about such penalties. Should we encounter instances of unclear fact or law, or of potential conflicts in the interpretation of the law, we will outline the reasonable courses of action and the risks and consequences of each. We will ultimately adopt the alternative you select. I do not assume the cost or risk of tax penalties that may be imposed.
OTHER ADVICE: During the work of accounting I am likely to find other financial and accounting topics that we should discuss. The results of these possible additional discussion and any resulting work stemming from those discussions are not covered in this letter.
E) MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES: Unique circumstances affecting this engagement may be discovered after the signing of this agreement. These will be confirmed separately in writing and are incorporated by reference into the overall agreement.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Other details affecting this agreement may emerge during our work and that are confirmed in later electronic communications between us become part of this agreement.
ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE: To affirm that this letter correctly summarizes your understanding of the arrangements for this work, please sign and return a copy of this letter. We agree that an email response from you acknowledging by typing “AGREED” or another form of electronic signature has the same impact as a manual signature.