CPA didn't do my taxes. What now?
June 8, 2010 11:17 AM   Subscribe

My CPA didn't do my taxes. What's the best way to proceed?

I turned my tax documents in to my CPA about 3 months ago...and after they stopped responding to emails and phone calls regarding the status of my taxes...I figured something was up. I called the IRS and they indicated that they had received nothing for me for 2009 - not even an extension. Effectively speaking...I never filed anything. My CPA screwed up big time...and they always tell me they'll "call me back." They never do, and now I know why.

How do I proceed from this point? My gut reaction is to visit my CPA and demand that they make the situation right...but that is tempered by a desire to simply retrieve all my documents from them and find another preparer. Obviously I will never do business with them again.

I am worried about IRS penalties, fees, etc. Can fees or penalties be alleviated if the CPA himself admits fault? Or am I just totally at a loss here with no real recourse?
posted by jnnla to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hire a lawyer. Now.
posted by atbash at 11:18 AM on June 8, 2010

Come clean to the IRS before they have a chance to find you. You can avoid looking like you're trying to get away with something if you call them up and explain the situation to them. I would also hire a tax attorney to help you negotiate the process. And definitely go after your current documents. Depending on what you signed with the CPA you could probably go after them to have them pay the fines that the IRS will impose.
posted by msbutah at 11:41 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

jnnla: I turned my tax documents in to my CPA about 3 months ago

Do you have documentation of receipt of this, as well as some kind of signed contract saying they'll file?
posted by mkultra at 11:45 AM on June 8, 2010

Seconding the above. Gather all your documentation, and take it to your lawyer ASAP. The American Bar Association has a site about finding legal help in your state.

posted by tellumo at 11:59 AM on June 8, 2010

I have an email chain starting from the day I handed in the docs (in which they confirm that they "have everything and should have everything final by Wed [april 15th]") This was the last time they contacted me via email. I sent subsequent emails detailing my conversation with the IRS. Not sure if this email would count as a contract...but it was certainly implied that they would finish my taxes. I do not remember signing anything with them unfortunately...but I can check my records.
posted by jnnla at 12:01 PM on June 8, 2010

The good news is that if you do not owe money, it is unlikely that there will be any long term implications assuming you do not ignore this. So go see a different accountant and have him file a return. If you do owe money because of your accountants screwup, then you may want to consider talking to a tax lawyer. Otherwise I don't see a big reason you need a tax lawyer for something this simple.

I do not know if it is a good idea to tell the IRS what happened. Your new accountant will be able to tell you what to do.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 12:03 PM on June 8, 2010

I worked 1099 all of 2009. I did not file quarterlies. I owe quite a bit if my math serves me, I hired the CPA to handle deductions etc... I am going to contact a tax attorney to see if this is even worth pursuing...
posted by jnnla at 12:16 PM on June 8, 2010

Definitely contact the IRS ASAP.

Next step is to retrieve your documents from the CPA, or, failing that, contact the institutions that issued you W-2's, 1099's, etc. to get new copies.

You need to put together an estimate of the tax you owe, if any, and pay that ASAP to stop the accrual of penalty interest and fees.
posted by de void at 2:07 PM on June 8, 2010

You should probably contact the state CPA board, wherever you are, to see if there are other complaints. I had a similar nightmare scenario where my CPA's life was apparently falling apart. He had me pay in advance for doing my taxes, which I thought was strange, and as it got closer and closer to the filing date he kept not returning calls, I went to his office to find it closed and the people in the neighboring office told me many other people had shown up looking for him. I called the state board and they told me there were numerous complaints about him. I had to do some detective work to find his house on the evening of the fourteenth and wake him from a drunken stupor (the place was a wreck, with toys around, it looked like his family had left) to give me my paperwork back. I'm surprised he still had it.
Good luck.
posted by Red Loop at 6:48 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hi all. Thanks for the answers. Here is how this turned out (for now). I finally got in touch with my CPA and he made an appointment to see me. He had my taxes completely prepared and even with penalties (which were, to his estimate, under 200 bucks) got my payment down to significantly below what I had estimated I would pay. Thousands less. Given the cost, time and energy of involving a Tax Attorney, I figured I would go ahead and pay. I looked over what he prepared and it seems I submitted and paid and will wait and see whether the IRS takes issue with it. At this point I am technically at a gain given the money I had allocated to pay taxes this year. I certainly won't use this guy again...but this battle wasn't worth fighting (so far).
posted by jnnla at 11:26 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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