Ask a Business Lawyer. Get Business Law Questions Answered ASAP.
Hello, I will try to help you. Please remember I just report or interpret the law, so the outcome may not be what you hoped for. You are correct that you should have been informed of the hourly rate or whatever basis the fee would be based upon prior to the engagement. The confusion I am sure comes from the fact that the CPA contacted the attorney and authorized him to do the work. How that interaction went is unknown. The $270 per hour is not an unreasonable rate for a tax specialist. Also, since the CPA did not know the answer, the issue must have had some complexity to it. The fact that an "opinion" was requested and provided also has significance because opinions as opposed to general advice create special liability for an attorney and generally cost more. At this point there is a $109 issue. I do not think this amount is worth pursuing so I would pay the balance. However, this is a lesson learned and you should make sure you are clear with whoever you are dealing on what the cost will be. If your CPA needs to check something that you will be charged for, you need to make sure that you know how you will be charged. If I have answered all your questions, please rate my answer excellent as that is how I am compensated. If you have more questions, please let me know. If the answer was especially helpful you can provide a bonus.
I do think it is a lesson learned. Unfortunately, my husband agreed to the fee without the details. It is a small amount left I agree. The rate isn't unreasonable....I just don't like the way it happened. It was very sloppy. I think it would be worth talking to the CPA and informing him of the transaction for future reference. We live in a small town and costs are in general lower (ie the CPA did our taxes which included a farm operation for less than would the attorney charged.) I assumed the CPA would have taken this into consideration when using his buddy in a larger town. So cc: the bar would be pointless?
I looked at the e-mail and he doesn't state an opinion. Those were my words in my letters. The entire note read:
"As we discussed, our advice is that we wait to see whether the IRS assesses the payroll taxes. They cannot assess prior to 90 days after they issued the Notice of Determination. At that point, the statute of limitations will be a problem for the IRS. Pursuant to Reg 31.6205-1(a)(6)(iii), we wouldn't qualify for an interest free adjustment after the Notice of Determination was issued."
On the opinion my comment should be disregarded. The email is just general advice. However, I still say that you should pay the difference and clarify the issue with the CPA for the future. The fact that your husband agreed without knowing the details only strengthens the obligation to pay the full bill. I can understand your frustration but I do not think it should be pursued further other than to make sure with your CPA that it does not happen again. If I have answered all your questions, please rate my answer excellent as that is how I am compensated. If you have more questions, please let me know. If the answer was especially helpful you can provide a bonus.
I agree. We should have handled it differently. Thank for your assistance.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).