Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have listed some of the frequently asked questions related to tax preparation & returns, IRS & the accountancy services that we provide at Griffin Accounting in Michigan.
How much do you charge to do taxes?
Because each tax payers circumstances are different, it is difficult to give an exact quote. We bill based on the forms needed to complete your return. Our staff does not work on commission and you can rest assured we will not sell you unnecessary forms or bill for unneeded work. We are confident you will find our prices very competitive. You are always welcome to take your original documents and shop around.
As general guidelines an average return in 2016 was around $140 and included the federal, state and city returns.
Pricing begins at $30 for a 1040EZ Federal with State.
1040A Federal with State return starts at $60
1040 “Long form” starts at $100
Most city returns are $10
E-file is FREE
What types of payments do you accept?
We accept all major debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express). We will also accept money orders or checks and gladly accept cash.
Can I pay my tax preparation fees out of my refund?
Yes you can. Fee Collect, the process of having your preparation fees collected from your return, is available for an additional charge. Additional fees are subject to change yearly and are up to $70 additional. We do not encourage the use of fee collect due to the additional banking/processing fees incurred however we know in some circumstances it is necessary.
We are able to make arrangements and take payments on your preparation fees if you need to break the cost up. Please note that we will not submit your return until payment is received in full, however this may be a better option to save you money.
If you choose to have your preparation costs taken from your return and the IRS offsets your return for any reason, you are still responsible for paying your cost in full on your own.
What do I need to bring with me to get my taxes done?
The first year you come into the office we will need to verify your identification. You will be asked for your Driver’s License or State ID as well as your Social Security card. If you have dependant’s we will ask for their social security cards and drivers licenses or birth certificates as well. This is required to prevent ID theft and ensure your returns are entered correctly.
In addition to your identification you will need to bring information regarding your income and deductions. Some examples of documents are listed below. Please note this list is extensive and not every tax payer will need to have everything listed. If you do not have a document, please do not put off having your taxes done. We will help you do as much as possible and then help direct you regarding the documents needed to complete the return.
Please keep in mind, not everything on this list will be needed by every individual. It is meant to serve as a helpful reminder of general guidelines.
- Driver’s License
- Social Security Card
- Last year’s Federal AND State tax return (if not done at Griffin Accounting)
- 1095-A; 1095-B; &/or 1095-C Health Insurance/Marketplace statement (You may have multiple types)
- Exemption Certificate Number (if you received an exemption from health insurance from Marketplace Exchange)
- Commissions paid OR received
- Alimony paid OR received
- December/January Heating bill (for home heating credit)
- IRA contributions
- Estimated taxes paid
- Foreign taxes paid
- 1098-E Student Loan interest
- 1099-T Tuition expenses
- Education fees
- Moving Expenses
- Child Care expenses and provider information
- Unreimbursed employment-related expenses (union dues, clothing, training, etc.)
- W-2 wage statements
- W-2G Lottery or Gambling winnings
- 1099-R Pension or retirement income
- 1099-INT or 1099-DIV interest and dividend income
- 1099-G state refund amount
- SSA-1099 Social Security income
- 1099-G Unemployment income
- 1099-B information on sales of Stocks or Bonds
- 1099-C Canceled Debt amount
If itemizing (for Schedule A) –
- State and local sales taxes paid
- Lottery or Gambling losses
- Cash and noncash Charitable donations
- Record of Purchase or Sale of Residence
- 1098 Mortgage/Home Equity loan Interest paid
- Real Estate and Personal Property taxes paid
- Casualty and Theft losses
- Medical, Eye care, and Dental expenses
For Businesses –
- 1099-MISC/1099-K Self-employed business/Farm income & expenses
- Income and Expenses from Rentals
- Schedule K-1 Income from Partnerships, S-Corporations, Trusts, and Estates
- Business expenses (repairs, maintenance supplies, taxes/licenses)
- Home office expenses (utilities, repairs, internet, phone, etc., also need sq. ft. of Business Area)
- Business income
- Business auto mileage
- Equipment purchased
- Job-related educational expenses
- Educator expenses
Can I just drop my stuff off to you and have you take care of my taxes?
Sure! We do accept drop offs. If you drop your tax documents off, we will ask you to fill out a client form to ensure we have the correct client information (we want to make sure we can get a hold of you with any questions and once the return is done). Once we have that, the next available tax preparer will complete your return with the information we have. We will contact you to go over details once everything is completed.
What is an IRS Enrolled Agent?
What is an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA)?
An IRS enrolled agent (EA) is a person who has earned the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.
EAs advise, represent and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. While many EAs tend to focus on preparing taxes, many also specialize in tax resolution.
EAs are experts who keep up to date with the ever changing area of taxation and therefore are able to effectively represent persons who are audited by the IRS.
It has been said that accounting is numbers and taxes are laws. We’re good with both.
Enrolled agents are the only taxpayer representatives who receive their unlimited right to practice from the federal government (CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states). This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before. In turn, that means if you need to file in more than one state and eventually need representation before that state in an audit or resolution case, the same EA can do it. For this reason, it’s just smart to use an EA when you have out-of-state returns, when you expect to owe the IRS or when you need help resolving an IRS dispute.
EAs help ensure clients are treated appropriately by the IRS, work out payment plans on the best possible terms, and ensure the IRS follows laws that protect taxpayers.
The occupation has been regulated by Congress since 1884 and was originally established to investigate questionable and fraudulent claims that were submitted in the wake of the Civil War. Today, as regulations continue Enrolled Agents (EAs) receive their license from the federal government while CPAs and attorneys are usually licensed by the state in which they reside.
How does your referral program work?
We love referrals!
We are happy to offer services to you. If you are happy with our service, we ask you let others know. When a new client lets us know you sent them, we’ll send you a $20 check! It’s that simple.
We don’t limit the number of referrals we pay you, we’re pleased to have you spread the word!
***Referrals must be new client(s) at Griffin Accounting. New client must complete and pay for a tax return. Your returns must also be completed and paid for in order to qualify for the $20 payment. Payments are processed and mailed throughout the year; however due to busy conditions during tax seasons, verification process and payments may be deferred until the end of the season.
When will my tax return be sent it/submitted?
Returns must be paid in full before we will submit them electronically to the IRS or the state Department of Treasury.
Also, our office uses a two person review process which means that once your preparer completes the return, a second preparer reviews the return for entry accuracy. This means that your return gets a double glance before being transmitted. If any questions arise during the review process, we will contact you to discuss them.
How long will it take to get my refund?
The IRS states that 9 out of 10 e-filed tax returns with direct deposit will be processed within 21 days of IRS e-file acceptance.
Mailed paper returns – Refund processing time is 6 to 8 weeks from the date the IRS receives your tax return.
The State of Michigan advised using efile and direct deposit is the fastest way to get your tax refund. If you efile a Michigan tax return, your refund will generally be processed within 2 weeks. Allow at least 6 weeks if you filed a paper return.
For additional state information, please check the individual state’s website.
Where’s my Refund?
If you have not received your refund, you may check the status using the IRS and Department of Treasury online tools. These are the same resource tools we use in our office to check status once returns have been submitted.
Once we complete and submit your return, it is out of our hands and in the hands of the IRS or the Department of Treasury. We will gladly help you with any questions you may have regarding the processing of your return however we cannot control the processing time of the government.
Please follow the directions on each website to find out where your return is.
IRS returns for current tax year – https://www.irs.gov/refunds
Requires Social Security Number, Filing Status and the Exact Refund Amount
IRS amended return-
Requires Social Security Number, Date of Birth and Zip or Postal Code
State of Michigan- http://www.michigan.gov/taxes/0,4676,7-238-43513_75466—,00.html
Requires Social Security Number (SSN), Tax Year, Filing Status, and Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
When does my employer have to give me my W2/1099s?
Beginning in 2017, the laws have changed. Employers must provide W2s or 1099s to their employees, as well as the IRS, no later than January 31st of each year. Employers should allow mailing time to ensure these forms reach their employees on or before January 31st. If you have not received your forms, you will need to contact your employer. Employers may be fined if they do not comply.
I lost my W2s/1099s. What can I do?
Start by contacting your employer to request a new one. If you are unable to obtain a copy from your employer, you may request a free transcript of earnings from the IRS by visiting the link below. Complete the request online, by phone at 800-908-9946 or you can print a Form 4506-T by following the instructions on the site.
How long do I need to keep my tax records for?
The general rule of thumb is the current tax year plus the 3 previous years for personal returns.
If your records are connected to property, you should keep the records as long as you have the property.
There are a few other circumstances where you should keep your documents longer. Please review the the following IRS document here.
If you have a small business, you can find recommended retention guidelines here.
What are your hours?
What are your hours?
We are open from 9am – 9pm Monday – Saturday during the tax season. Tax season runs January 15th – April 15th.
We are open 9am – 4pm Monday – Friday the rest of the year.
Where are you located?
Beginning in 2015 we consolidated offices and have one location to better serve you. Our permanent location is in the Court of Flags mall (same building as Secretary of State and north end Kroger, on the Krafft Rd side of the building).
Our address is:
2887 Krafft Rd., Suite 1050
Port Huron, MI 48060
What is the deadline for filing my taxes?
As a general guideline-
Personal returns should be filed by April 15th.
Business returns should be filed by March 15th.
If the 15th falls on a weekend, returns will be due the following Monday.
What is an extension?
IRS form 4868 is generally referred to as an “extension” for personal taxes. If you are unable to complete your personal tax return by the April deadline, you can get a six month extension of time to file by simply completing this form.
IRS form 7004 is the form used to file a business “extension” and needs to be completed before March 15th to extend the time to file to September 15th.
Remember- an extension only extends the date to file the return. It will prevent a late filing fee, but will not prevent the penalty on the payment of taxes due. To avoid interest, penalties and late fees, you should include a payment for any taxes due when submitting the extension request.
We encourage our clients to file returns on time, even if you cannot pay in full. It is suggested that you pay as much as you can when you file. The IRS will send you a bill or notice for the balance due and this will avoid a late filing fee.
Regardless of when you file your tax return, if you do not pay the tax you owe by the original tax filing deadline, the IRS penalties can be severe. The IRS will charge you one-half percent each month on the amount of tax you still owe after the deadline.
If you fail to file a return altogether by the extension date, the IRS penalty increases to 5 percent per month, for a maximum penalty of 25 percent. An easy way to avoid the penalty is to make a tax payment with your debit card before the filing deadline.
I filed an extension. When do I need to have everything done?
If you filed an extension you have until October 15th to complete your personal tax return. Business tax returns that have filed an extension must be completed by September 15th. Please be aware that an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your taxes.
How can I get a copy of my previous tax return?
If we have completed a tax return for you, we will be able to provide a copy for you. We will gladly print a copy for you at no cost. Copies can be picked up in our office. They can also be faxed or emailed to you.
Due to mailing expenses, there is a $10 charge to have a copy of your returns mailed to you. We mail returns via priority mail.
If your returns were completed somewhere else, you will need to make a request through the previous preparer. If you are not able to obtain a copy from your previous preparer or you did them yourself and cannot locate them, you may request a copy from the IRS. To do so, you can visit the IRS website and make the request at: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript
Alternatively, you may print and mail this form: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506.pdf
OR call the IRS at: 1-(800)908-9946 to make a request.
I received a phone call from the IRS saying I owe. What should I do?
Hang up. Do not give out any information or confirm your identity. These calls are scams. You will receive a letter in the mail from the IRS for any collection attempts.
Update – The IRS will never contact you by phone however recent changes to the collection process may leave some tax payers confused. We are doing our best to keep you informed. Beginning in 2017, the IRS will start using private debt collectors for certain old, uncollectible accounts. PRIOR to these private debt collectors calling any individual, the IRS will send a letter stating the account is being handled by a private debt collector. It will specifically name the debt collector along with their contact details. Letters will also be sent from the private debt collecting company advising you the IRS has turned the account over to them. If you have not received these two letters, do not give out any information. IRS.gov will publish the names of these collectors. See here for more information on private debt collectors.
The following information is taken from the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts
IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scams
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Note that the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Remember: Scammers Change Tactics — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, but variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round and they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike.
I’m getting emails from the IRS. It says I need to update my IRS e-file. What should I do?
Do not click on the link. Do not create any accounts or log into any systems. These types of emails are scams and phishing for information. By clicking on the link or entering any information, you may be opening yourself up to fall victim. Please see the IRS official website at https://www.irs.gov for more information.
The following was taken from: https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts
Surge in Email, Phishing and Malware Schemes
The IRS saw an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents in the 2016 tax season.
Scam emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. Emails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
Variations of these scams can be seen via text messages, and the communications are being reported in every section of the country.
When people click on these email links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov. The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information, which could be used to help file false tax returns. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect people’s computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.
For more details, see:
- IR-2016-28, Consumers Warned of New Surge in IRS Email Schemes during 2016 Tax Season; Tax Industry Also Targeted
- IR-2016-15, Phishing Remains on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2016 Filing Season
Email Phishing Scam: “Update your IRS e-file”
The IRS is aware of email phishing scams that appear to be from the IRS and include a link to a bogus web site intended to mirror the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” The emails mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between “IRS” and “gov”), though notably, not IRS.gov (with a dot). Don’t get scammed. These emails are not from the IRS.
What do you do if you get these messages?
- Do not respond to the email or click on the links.
- Instead, they should forward the scam emails to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the IRS’s Report Phishing web page.
Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
What’s going on with the IRS using private debt collectors?
Beginning in early 2017, the IRS will use private debt collectors to pursue old, uncollectible accounts.
Private debt collectors:
- will NOT ask for payments via credit cards or prepaid debit cards.
- will NOT take payments made payable to them.
- will direct taxpayers to payment options available on IRS.gov or payment options by check made payable only to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS.
Prior to a private collector contacting you, you will receive a letter from the IRS. The letter will detail the name and contact information of the company. A second letter will be sent confirming the transfer. A list of companies will be published on the official IRS website (irs.gov) as well. A list of the agencies as of September 26, 2016 is listed below.
If you have not received a letter from the IRS and the private debt company both and you receive a call asking for information and demanding payment- hang up, do not give out any information as it may be a scam. Contact the IRS if you are in doubt or have any questions about your situation.
Cases sent to private collectors will meet the following criteria:
- debt that is more than one-third of the 10-year collection statute has expired;
- No IRS employee is assigned to collect the debt; and,
- The IRS hasn’t contacted the taxpayer in a year, and the taxpayer isn’t requesting a payment alternative or relief (such as innocent spouse relief, a collection due process hearing, an offer in compromise, and installment agreement, etc.,)
The private debt collector will try to locate “missing” taxpayers. When the IRS can’t locate taxpayers, it removes them from active collections. Private debt collectors will pursue those accounts.
Private debt collectors won’t have enforcement authority. They are not able to file liens or issue levies. Keep in mind, however, that the IRS may have already filed a tax lien on some taxpayers before the private debt collector ever calls. Collectors also won’t be able to help taxpayers get liens removed. To address enforcement actions, taxpayers or their advisors will need to contact the IRS directly.
If you receive a notice advising your account is being handled by a private debt collector, collection alternatives are still available through the IRS. If you need payment alternatives, such as an installment agreement, currently not collectible status, or an offer in compromise, you or your representative should contact the IRS. We can help with these options and act as representative as well.
Agencies as of September 26, 2016-
CBE Group 1309 Technology Pkwy, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613
Conserve 200 CrossKeys Office Park, Fairport, New York 14450
Performant 333 N Canyons Pkwy, Livermore, California 94551
Pioneer 325 Daniel Zenker Dr., Horseheads, New York 14845
Again- the private debt collectors working with the IRS must be courteous and respect taxpayer rights. They will not be able to take payments directly, you will be redirected to the website IRS.gov or to mail payments to the IRS made payable to the U.S. Treasury. Do not make payment over the phone or send payment to another office or company.