FAQ's

When and how can I make an appointment to have my taxes done?
For the 2015 tax filing season, all returns are prepared by appointment only. You can call starting on January 3rd to schedule your appointment. The phone number is 949-364-2121. Or you can e-mail eleanor@code-4tax.com. Appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Appointments can be scheduled for as early as January 20th, however, it is required that you have your W-2 (not a final paystub) in order to file your return.
 
How long does an appointment take?
It depends upon how prepared you are and how complex your return is. Our procedure is to prepare the return in its entirety at the appointment. Unlike some other tax preparation offices, we do not take your documents for a week or two and then require you to come back to sign the returns and pick them up. Because of this, it is important for you to come to your appointment prepared. In general, an average return with itemized deductions (Schedule A) will take about 45 minutes to an hour.
 
What do I need to do to prepare for my appointment?
Prior to your appointment, you should gather all relevant tax documents (in general, anything mailed to you that says "Important Tax Document" should be brought), including but not limited: W-2's, 1099's, Mortgage Interest Statements, Property Tax bills, DMV registrations, charitable donation statements & receipts, work-related expenses, etc. Make sure you have all names,dates of birth and social security numbers for you and all your dependents.
 
We have prepared several worksheets to help you organize your income and expenses so that you do NOT need to bring all of your actual receipts with you. All taxpayers can use the General Information worksheet, and there are also specialized worksheets for the following: Law Enforcement, Firefighters & Nurse Deductions, Educator Deductions, Real Estate Professionals, Rental Property Deductions, Small Business, and Farm/Ranch Deductions. Use the link to the left to access the worksheets.
 
If you are unsure as to whether something is deductible or relevant for taxes, you should bring it with you.

Do you e-file returns?
E-filing of returns is the standard practice of this office. All returns are e-filed unless there is a reason why it cannot be or there is a strong personal preference to not do so. There is no extra charge for e-filing. 

How long does it take to process a return and get a refund?
In general, the IRS takes about 10 days up to 3 weeks to process a normal return and direct deposit a refund. If you are not using direct deposit, it generally takes 3-4 weeks for you to get your check. The state (CA in particular) usually is a little faster and refunds are directly deposited in about 1-2 weeks.

Please note that there are times when refunds can be delayed for various reasons. This does not mean you will not get a refund, nor is it any indication that your return is under additional scrutiny. The IRS has a link on their website for you to be able to check on your refund status. Go to www.irs.gov and use the Where's My Refund? feature. You will need your social security number and exact amount of anticipated refund. Most states also have the same feature on their websites. California's website is www.ftb.gov.
 
What are your office hours?
During appointment season, office hours are generally 9 am until 7 PM Monday-Saturday.

Where are you located?
Appointments are held at my home office located in Rancho Santa Margarita. It is convenient to both the 5 freeway and the 241 tollroad. You will be sent a confirmation e-mail prior to your scheduled appointment with the exact address and driving directions.
 
You're located kind of far from me.  Do I have to come to the office in person to do my taxes?
For first-time clients, we prefer that you come in person to prepare your returns. There are often many questions that need to be asked in order to ensure that you receive the maximum legal deduction. It's our chance to get to know you, and for you to know us. After the first year, you can opt for one of the other methods of tax preparation that are offered.

What other options for tax preparation do you offer?
If it's not possible for you to come to the office but would still like us to prepare your returns, we offer phone-in or Skype appointments (where you send your documentation in advance and schedule a time when we can discuss information on the phone or by Skype) and mail-in services (primarily limited to straightforward returns without a lot of deductions or complex issues and those long-standing clients with whom we are very familiar with their financial situations).

Please note that the deadline to get information in for non-appointment returns (mail-ins) is MARCH 31st. All returns received by that date will be guaranteed to be done by the tax season deadline. Any returns received after that are not guaranteed to be completed by the deadline, but every effort will be made to meet it.

How much do you charge?
The exact cost of your return will depend upon which forms are needed to be generated in the process of your return preparation, however, as a general guideline for the 2015 tax filing season, a return with itemized deductions on Schedule A and work expenses on Form 2106 will cost $225. Small business forms and rental forms add an additional $25 each. Short forms for children, etc. are done at a minimal cost in the office, or can be done thru the links on this website for $20 (federal & state).

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept all credit cards, cash and personal checks. We will also do debit card to debit card transfers through Square cash. We do NOT offer the option of taking our fees from your refund. 
 
What happens if I get audited or get a letter from the IRS or state? 
If you are sent an IRS notice or are audited for a return which was prepared by anyone in this firm, your notice response or audit representation will be provided at no charge to you. If you are being audited for work that was done by another preparer but are seeking our assistance in helping you prepare and/or would like for us to attend your audit with you, fees will be charged at a base rate of $100 per hour.

If you get a notice from the IRS or state, call or e-mail us to let us know. There will be times when the notice can be explained in that initial dialog, however, most of the time, you'll be asked to forward a copy via e-mail, fax or mail so that it can be looked at more closely. Note that if you get a notice from a tax authority, it is imperative that you respond in a timely manner. Do not ignore these notices! The IRS does not look kindly upon those who ignore their deadlines. 

Are you taking new clients?
At this time, I am not actively looking for new clients, however, if you have a close friend, relative or co-worker who you'd like to refer, I will accept a limited number to the extent that the appointment calendar has availability.