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I have a client who has been a bit troublesome, and has had…

I have a client who...
I have a client who has been a bit troublesome, and has had me do work and then did tax return himself that I had completed and he never paid me forl. Then he came back and had be do a back S Corp election and contracted me to do S Corp election and 2017 taxes. Also 2016 taxes. The 2016 taxes were a mess, with conflicting data being sent to IRS by employers. I called the IRS to find out about this, and was told that they could not give me data because of ID Theft indicators. I had the IRS send a letter and instructed the TP to call them per their instrucitons. The TP demanded I send copies of 2016 W2s he claimed to have given me to IRS. He said he did not have access to the origianls as he had been involved in move and did not know where they were. I thought I had them, but could not find them after extensive search. The client has also not sent me the data needed to finish his 2017 tax filings. I already prepared the 2553 election to attach to his tax form. The client is now demanding I refund his 2017 fees. I never promised to do such. Indeed, I have spent several hours working on this clients scene over the last year. I suspect the client, now that it is simply the filing of a simple corp return, wants to save money. I have offered to discuss the matter with the client, but he refuses to talk and cuts me off. What is my legal and ethical situation if I simply tell the client I do not do refunds. But if he wants to come and discuss situation, I would do my best to make it right. It is possible I lost a copy I made of one of his tax forms. But that is about it. And I have spent hours trying to help this genttleman.
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Answered in 12 hours by:
3/7/2018
Lane
Lane, JD, CFP, MBA, CRPS
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,847
Experience: Juris Doctorate Degree, CFP and MBA with 30 years experience in estate and income tax law
Verified

Hi Dave,

...

This one was under legal rather than tax ... becasue I haven't sat (and don't intend to) for the bar in any state, the site won't let me answer unless this is

...

(1)in the tax or one of my other areas such as finance - which is really what ALL of these are, (tax law and other legal aspects of the analysis are a part of the overall analysis) OR

(2) as they've now done for me, dual catted under both legal and tax

...

If you want me, ask in tax or finance. I do have the law degree, something many of us in the fiduciary adviser area do...

...

(to be able to read a contract, understand the legal aspects of tax (which is a tax law issue), estate, ethics, and other legal aspects of financial decision making, and point folks to the right KIND of lawyer ( and oversee their work) once that actual legal work is to be done, (cranking out the contract, trust, or other legal document OR litigating when necessary, etc) but I have not sat for the bar and again, don't intend to be a litigator or to crank out legal documents.)

...

DO you want my help here? Or do you want a lawyer licensed in a specific state?

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Hi Lane,
I am looking for a practical solution and would like your help. I can check with my local Las Vegas lawyer via legal shield as needed. It is a tax client.

Yep .... just wanted to make sure.

...

To really cut to the chase here, my thought his that you would need to be clear about what your deliverable is (pardon the grammar).

...

If it's time, then you document that time you've spent and tell him that (if he won't simply discuss the matter) you can't refund him when you've given this X hours of your time at $X per hour .. when he's only paid you $X MINUS that amount.

...

But if the deliverable was a service, say a return, and the return wasn't delivered to him and signed by you you pretty much have to do the refund.

...

Now we get to the terms of your agreement ... if you set a price that depends on x hours of work and you've disclosed it that way, you then have the ability to say "you paid me X to do a return, and didn't call and tell me NOT to do that return before I had spent the time I did to do it.

...

But again this all comes down to what's in your agreement, engagement letter, etc.

...

and I think that being clear on whether you're charging for (1)TIME, (2)for delivering a specific work product, OR (3)a work product BASED on an estimate of time taken ... and how that's disclosed and agreed to, underlies the answer.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Thank you.

As always, ...

You're very welcome ... Your positive rating … (by using those the stars or faces on your screen, and then clicking “submit”) …is thanks enough!

That's the only way I'll be compensated by JustAnswer for the work here

...

Thank you,

Lane

...

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
One last follow up,and then you get your 5 stars. The client came to me and paid for a 2553 election and 2017 tax return. The 2553 election is done, but I was going to submit it with the tax return. client never gave me the data necessary to complete the tax return. No engagement letter was signed. My bad. I can send the 2553 election, or I can give to client to attach with tax return. Can I deduct the 2553 election fee from the refund? Also, am I required to INSTANTLY refund. I have received email demands, but client has refused to talk. Am I violating something by not paying client back instantly, or do I have a right to review the work done and demand for refund?

I would say that you have every right to offset for the work done. And there's no real language around a need INSTANTLY to refund, but, real world, the quicker the better, simply so as not to let things "fester" so to speak.

Lane
Lane, JD, CFP, MBA, CRPS
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,847
Experience: Juris Doctorate Degree, CFP and MBA with 30 years experience in estate and income tax law
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Lane
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