In a recent article I mentioned that we have a client duties contract that we insist all new clients must sign, even before I meet with them. A reader asked me for a copy, so I reasoned others might want it as well.
This article describes the contract, and a link to it appears below. Just copy it onto your own system and add your own letterhead. Modify any of the terms or amounts to suit your own practice and business style. Of course, add specific provisions that you find are important based on your experience with your own client base.
I developed each item carefully after years of working with clients and getting to know the kinds of things they do. You could say I designed each line to prevent a particular client problem:
- Waste your time (items a, b, e, g).
- Endanger your license by omitting key income data, or lying to you in other ways about dependents, filing status, etc. (items c, d).
- Avoid paying you in a timely manner – giving you the right to collect late fees that will stand up in court (item f). Without written advance notice to the client, you cannot legally collect late fees. This is your written notice. (But remember to put that provision on the invoices, too.)
- You won’t represent them at audit for free – especially if their omissions or negligence caused the audit (item h). Note: If something I did on the return caused the audit, I will represent them for free.
- Most important, I’ve given you a way out of an unpleasant engagement. See the underlined portion about fees being earned upon receipt. Generally, I will return some of the unused portion of the fees when I dismiss a client. But this gives us the option to keep their money if they are particularly abusive or obnoxious.
Note: Be sure to give them a copy of this contract signed by them and you.
Leave a comment to let me know how this works for you.
About the author:
Eva Rosenberg, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com ®, where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and ebooks, including "Small Business Taxes Made Easy." Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses to help you deal with tax debt http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.