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Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 28081
Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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Requesting prior year tax return files from a previous CPA

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Requesting prior year tax return files from a previous CPA firm - is there a proper protocol for requesting the backup database files, as well as fixed assets files and workpaper files?


Hi and welcome to Just Answer!
Generally - your relations with the CPA is based on the service contract.
There are no specific requirements for record retention or requirements to provide such records to clients relating to past years.
While section 6107 requires that paid preparers retain certain information regarding tax returns for specified period of time (generally - three years) - and have them available for inspection upon request by the IRS.
Income tax return preparers must furnish copy of return to taxpayer - but there is no requirement to furnish copies for previous years - while most tax preparation services provide such copies (additional fees might apply).
If you decide to change the CPA - I suggest reviewing your contract - and informing the old CPA abount that by certified mail asking to release all data and documents to a new CPA. Most likely - the new CPA should be involved and verify that all documents are released. The transaction could be documented by the transfer act signed by both - old and new CPAs - so all missing documents and/or information should be noted.


Thank you. I was looking for some wording that might be appropriate for an amicable releasing of the files for the ease of transition to the successor CPA. Professional courtesy perhaps?


There might be several types of records:

-Client records that you previously gave to your CPA – these are records owned by you – and must be returned.

-Documents prepared by the CPA – that you paid for also must be returned – including those in electronic format. For instance - depreciation schedules, etc. You may specifically list specific records in the release request.

-Tax returns, reports, or other document which were previously completed and issued on your behalf – as long as all fees paid – most CPAs would not argue returning these records .

In most situations – assuming there is no fee disputes – you should not have issue with releasing records. I would contact a new CPA and get him/her involved and act on your behalf.


Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX will do as you suggest.

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