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My fee schedule is broken down into four categories:

  • Tax Return Preparation
  • Consultation
  • Representation
  • Expert Witness (litigation)

Tax Return Preparation
My fees for preparation of Federal and State tax returns are based upon the type and number of returns required for reporting your income and expenses, and the number of schedules I need to prepare. Wage earners generally require fewer schedules, so the cost for those returns is usually less than the more complicated returns that contain business, rentals and/or significant investment transactions.  I will be pleased to E-mail you an estimate of my fee for preparing your Federal and State income tax returns if you furnish me a copy of your last filed return along with any significant changes in your financial transactions for the year of preparation. You can receive an estimate of the cost for your returns by clicking here and completing the short questionnaire.

I provide all my clients with a Tax Organizer to help remember all of their deductions and various types of income earned. Using this Tax Organizer helps save time and keeps my fees competitive.

A deposit toward the fee is due when we either meet to review your records or you email/mail/fax copies to me of your documents (W-2, 1099’s, 1098’s, K-1’s, etc.) and Tax Organizer. After drafting the return(s),  I will email you a PDF for review along with questions or observations I have concerning various items or other ways to reduce your tax liability. The balance of the fee is payable after you have reviewed and approved the final draft of your return.

For individuals who live in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, or San Gabriel valleys and have difficulty getting to my office in Santa Clarita due to age or disability, I offer in-home return preparation. An additional, but reasonable, fee is added to cover my gas expense and travel time.

I offer free email consultation for determining your potential qualification for an Offer in Compromise to resolve your tax liability provided you first complete and submit the questionnaire,  

I offer limited free initial email consultation for answering general questions regarding an audit or collection notice you just received. Example: You receive a Notice of Intent to Levy (letter CP504) from the IRS and want to know what it means and what to expect.  

Free consultation does NOT include specific guidance how to protect your assets or assessing your chance of prevailing during an IRS, FTB, or other tax agency appeal given your specific financial situation.

For telephone or email consultation concerning your options for a specific tax audit or collection issue, you will need to remit the fee (minimum one hour) in advance at my current hourly rate. This fee may be paid by check, money order, debit or credit card, Zelle, or PayPal.

If, following our consultation, you retain me to represent you, any unused consultation time will be applied toward your representation services. Further, if you retain me to represent you and our engagement is in place within seven (7) days of our consultation, I will apply one (1) hour of the consultation fee toward your retainer.

Office consultation to discuss your specific tax controversy requires a minimum of one (1) hour prepaid before our meeting. You can pay electronically or mail a check or money order to reserve a time. Additional 30-minute blocks may be purchased as needed.

After discussing your situation and scheduling our consultation, you may remit your retainer by credit card, PayPal, or mail a check or money order payable to Richard E. Norton, E. A.,:

Richard E. Norton, EA
23837 Sarda Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Please include your contact information (phone and fax numbers, and email address) along with payment. 

If you wish to use a credit card or PayPal, please email or call me and I will provide you with instructions. Please be sure to include all your contact information so I can reply promptly after confirming your payment.

Receiving a tax agency notice can be stressful and confusing. For this reason, I am generally available for phone consultation seven days a week, including evenings if necessary. Some Tax Agency Notices provide a limited period of appeal. Therefore, I recommend you act immediately so as to not forfeit your right to an appeal.

Upon receiving your payment, I will contact you to schedule a consultation. If you have not already done so, please send me any notices received along with any other relevant information.

Additional consultation time beyond time purchased is available at my standard hourly rate payable in additional blocks of 30 minutes. Office consultation is billable at 1/10 of an hour increments (after the initial 1-hour block) at my standard rate. 

To recap, an initial email consultation exclusively for evaluating your potential qualification for an Offer in Compromise is free. Further discussion including other aspects of your case are considered a formal consultation engagement subject to billable time. 

Please note that other professionals – EA’s, CPA’s, Tax Attorneys – who are assisting clients with the resolution of their issues are not eligible for free consultation. However, consultation time is available for purchase.

My fees for representing individuals, partnerships and corporations before the Internal Revenue Service, Franchise Tax Board (FTB), or EDD are based upon an hourly rate plus any out-of-pocket expenses (Example: travel, parking, photocopying, research (e.g., DataQuick, Pacer, etc), etc.).

A retainer is required for Federal or state collection or examination representation, and for IRS Appeals representation. The amount of the retainer depends on the type of representation (collection, audit, or appeal) as the anticipated work involved varies among those categories of representation.

Any retainer balance will be applied to your final invoice and any unapplied balance will be refunded. Your final invoice will include a one hour charge to cover case closing expenses including preparation of the termination of engagement letter, notifying the tax agencies I am no longer representing you, archiving your case file documentation, and concluding post-termination communications.

A larger retainer may be required for any corporation, partnership, or other entity where anticipated work within a month may be significant.

Invoices are generated on the last day of the month for services rendered and expenses incurred during that month. An itemized accounting of my time and expenses are provided. Invoices are issued Net 10 meaning payment is due within 10 days from the date of the invoice. Payment options include cash, check, money order, PayPal, Zelle and major debit/credit cards.

Offer In Compromise
All IRS and State Offers in Compromise are handled on an hourly rate basis. Clients are encouraged to do as much work on their own as they can in order to minimize cost. That said, I do not recommend any taxpayer attempt to do an OIC on their own. The process is very challenging. Almost all IRS OIC’s will require appealing a proposed rejection by the Service Center to IRS Appeals. Care must be exercised concerning what information is provided – and how it is explained. The specific information provided, and how it is explained and documented, is instrumental in the acceptance or rejection of the requested Offer in Compromise.

There is NEVER a guarantee that any tax agency will accept an Offer in Compromise. A denied IRS request for an OIC in certain circumstances can be appealed to the United States Tax Court (alleging that the IRS abused its discretion in denying the OIC). Historically, taxpayers (petitioners) have not done well in these types of Tax Court cases. Further, the appeal to the Tax Court will require a tax attorney to assist you in filing a petition with the U.S. Tax Court and to represent you at trial.  

If you are considering filing an OIC, it is very important that you retain a representative intimately familiar with the OIC process who will be able to present your OIC case as persuasively as possible. Please be sure to read the material on this web site that discusses Offer in Compromise in more depth. I have had excellent results in getting client OICs accepted.

Expert Witness (Litigation)
My fees for testifying as an IRS expert witness depend upon the case, location of the trial, and other variables. If you are an attorney, plaintiff, or defendant involved in litigation and are in need of an expert in matters relating to IRS tax law or procedures, contact me to discuss your case and the potential value of my testimony.

Why We Don’t Have Fixed Fees
Every taxpayer situation and financial condition is unique. Therefore, one size (price) doesn’t fit all. I am aware that some national chains and outsourcing solutions use fixed fees or fixed pricing based on forms or schedules filled out, or the type of service to be offered (such as an Offer in Compromise). In my experience, the cost is typically excessive as the firm is trying to cover all potential issues that could arise during the process.

Remember the old saying, ‘You get what you pay for.’ Do you really think you will get a quality job if a firm offers a fixed price for, as an example, a preparing a return with a business Schedule C and a taxpayer comes into their office with numerous categories of expenses or financial transactions? Many firms offering fixed fees often utilize personnel to do the actual work who are insufficiently trained in tax law and procedures. You may save some money in preparation or representation fees, but there is a significant risk that an audit could result in the IRS or State agency issuing a bill for thousands of dollars in additional tax, penalties and interest. As an alternative, if a return is not properly prepared, the taxpayer may end up paying excessive tax, penalties or interest at time of original filing.

Using a fixed representation fee will always result in some clients paying more than they should have. That’s not fair to clients. That’s why almost all credible EA, CPA, and attorney professionals charge for their services based on time. By the way, it violates ethical standards for any professional to charge for services based on tax savings or the amount of your refund on an original return!  Stay away from any firm that prices their services on that basis!

I believe that time-based fees are fair and in the best interests of our clients and our firm. Finally, it is important to understand that if you take up a lot of our time asking lots of  questions, have complex tax matters/issues, or just need a lot of tax help, you should expect to pay more than other clients who roll up their sleeves and do much of their own research (lots of information is available on Google and the tax agency websites), are well organized and have comparatively simple tax issues.