Accountant won't provide key tax documents
June 27, 2016 9:23 AM   Subscribe

I’m the beneficiary of a (small) trust which my old accountant, let’s call him A, also prepares the returns for. I’m switching to a new tax accountant, and A is now refusing to provide me the K1 for this trust.

In years past he of course has provided it to me as part of my return, but now won’t do it. He won't say he won't do it, just doesn't respond to my requests.

In addition, this accountant is refusing to provide me the various documents relating to the establishment of the trust, and so on.

The trust is (I believe) in New York State.

What are my options to get this documentation?

I don’t have a lot of money to spend on an attorney, but I could set some aside. (If you have a recommendation for someone reasonably-priced, I'm all ears.) I believe I am legally entitled to the trust documents, and of course I need the K1 in order to actually prepare my return.

Thanks for any help!
posted by thumpasor to Law & Government (9 answers total)
It shouldn't cost much to have an attorney draft a strongly-worded letter to your accountant, which should get his attention.
posted by kindall at 9:31 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ugh, I've been there. In my case, I just had to be really persistent and make it clear that I wasn't going to go away until I got the documents.

If you say he doesn't respond, it sounds like you're emailing him. Have you called? If he's part of a firm, have you escalated to other people in the firm? Do you live close enough that you can make an appointment and show up?

New Accountant should know the lay of the land and also has incentives clearly aligned with yours. Can you ask him about options?
posted by phoenixy at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2016

I would start by calling the New York State Society of CPAs (or the equivalent of whatever state the accountant is based in), and start the inquiries there.

Send an email to your CPA and let him know that because he is not responding to your requests you are taking the next step of speaking with the licensing agency in his state. Tell him you would prefer to resolve this quickly and amicably and he can always call you and let you know how and when he'll be responding to your requests.
posted by brookeb at 10:01 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

The people or person running the trust should be sending you the K1. If that's also the accountant, you should remind them of their obligations and that they are subject to the penalties described in 26 U.S. Code § 6722 - Failure to furnish correct payee statements.

If the accountant just happens to handle tax returns for most of the trust's beneficiaries but doesn't run the trust, then you'll need to direct your request to a different party, as they aren't actually obligated to do this for you.
posted by odinsdream at 10:08 AM on June 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Also there is a process to prepare your return without a K1, you just have to fill out an extra form. Not ideal, but there's a procedure.)
posted by odinsdream at 10:10 AM on June 27, 2016

There are facts missing from this question. The accountant is employed by the trust and is answerable to the trustee, not to you. There's no obvious reason why the accountant would have any papers relative to the establishment of the trust, nor why the trust's accountant would prepare individual tax returns for a beneficiary. Have you contacted the trustee about the papers you want?
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, thanks, this is really helpful. The accountant is also a trustee -- sorry, that was important information that I should have included.
posted by thumpasor at 11:18 AM on June 27, 2016

If you wanna look stuff up, you're asking about the "duty to inform." NY law is actually quite unclear on the info that a beneficiary is entitled to, IIRC.

If it's a big trust, you might consider meeting with a trust company. If they have the chance to manage the assets, they may be happy to give you info, write letters, and so forth (I've done that in my former life as a trust company employee)
posted by jpe at 3:39 PM on June 27, 2016

Just saw the "small trust" part. Yeah, sometimes I read too quickly.
posted by jpe at 3:40 PM on June 27, 2016

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