Tax Returns I Absolutely Will Not Do
While many tax preparers will do these types of returns, I will not. It is not my intention to refuse service to anyone. These decisions are made entirely for professional reasons.
1) Returns involving international taxation issues. I feel 100% confident about US tax returns and all 43 states and I am even licensed in multiple states. I am not an expert on international tax issues and at this point in my career I do not want to become one. If you have a situation that involves something more complex than including foreign income or credits on a US tax return, find someone else.
2) Returns using the Married but Filing Separately ("MFS") filing status. This filing status almost always results in a higher tax burden and is done mostly because of legal issues more than tax issues. And if you have potential legal issues with your tax return I don't want to get involved.
3) Returns where your ex-spouse uses MFS in the current tax year, because they are required to list your name and SSN on their return and the IRS is therefore looking for an MFS return from you as well.
FYI a person who files MFS almost always qualifies to file as Single or Head of Household, which are MUCH better filing statuses. See the discussion on "Filing Status" here.
4) First-time clients who are selling / exchanging a rental property. The entire history of the rental property - depreciation, improvements, suspended passive activity losses - is on the prior year's return and copying all of that information just to take the property out of service is a very inefficient use of my time. Whoever did the prior year's return has this information on file and it is ten times easier for them to do it than for me. So please have them do it.
5) I will not amend tax returns initially prepared by others. Many preparers will, but I learned the hard way this is a bad idea. About 10 years back, I amended a return (which a taxpayer had prepared themselves) to include income they had omitted. Well, turns out there were many other mistakes on the initial return - and guess who became responsible for those errors because I had signed the amended return as a paid preparer? Never again....
6) "Innocent Spouse Relief" Form 8857 (and anything to do with it). Same issue as item 2 above. Won't do it.
7) Returns with different filing statuses on the Federal and State returns (MFJ on one, "Single" on the other).
8) Tax returns that are NOT in chronological sequence. I won't file a current-year return if you need to file for past tax years as well. Many items carry forward from year-to-year and filing newer returns before older returns can create quite a mess. Additionally, if the IRS thinks you might owe for past years and you have not filed, they may not process a current-year return that results in a refund.
9) Gift tax returns. As of 2018, any individual can give any other individual up to $15,000 (in cash or property) with no tax ramifications. A married couple could give an individual up to $30,000. The DONOR (giver) might be liable for gift tax if the amount transferred exceeds those limits. I don't deal with this section of the tax code at all (form 709).
10) RETURNING tax clients who want to file after June 30th (except for those waiting for K-1 forms which can arrive very late in the year). I know extensions are technically good until October but I start coaching my daughter's soccer team in July and focus my attention there. Also (respectfully) I don't want to develop a clientele of perpetual procrastinators. The last thing I want is over 100 people filing the last week of April - been there, done that. If you are the wait-until-the-last-minute type of person you will be much better served going somewhere else.
If you are a NEW client I will do your return after June 30th with the understanding you will be more timely in future years.
OK, I think that covers it. If I discover any more situations during the tax season that present problems I will add them here soon...