Tax Preparation

What’s included with your service?

As part of our regular service we prepare the following tax returns:

U.S. Federal
Pennsylvania State
Lancaster County Tax Collection Bureau

How long will it take to prepare my taxes?

When you make an appointment we prepare your taxes on-the-spot.  Drop-offs take a little longer.

How much do you charge?

Our rates compare with those of the name-brand tax companies.  Our service and attention to detail is what sets us apart from the Franchise tax preparers.

What documents do I need to bring to have my taxes prepared?

The following is a list of the forms Cloister Tax Services generally needs in order to complete your tax return.  New clients to Cloister Tax Services should also bring a copy of their prior year’s Federal, State and Local taxes.

Income Forms:

  • W-2 — Wage forms from ALL employers
  • 1099 Misc — Miscellaneous income forms from non-employers
  • 1099 Int — Interest earned on savings or other interest bearing accounts
  • 1099 Div — Dividends you received from investments
  • K1 — Income from partnerships

Itemized Expenses:

  • 1098 — Mortgage interest statements
  • Real estate tax notices (only those paid during the tax year)
  • Receipts for charitable contributions made during year
  • Medical expense records (not usually necessary if under $1,000.  If uncertain, please call)

When does Cloister Tax expect payment for tax preparation services?

Payment for tax preparation services is due when the taxes have been completed.  The return will be filed and paperwork returned to you upon payment.

What forms of payment do you accept?

Cloister Tax Services accepts the following forms of payment for tax preparation services:

  • Cash
  • Check
  • Money Order
  • MasterCard
  • Visa
  • PayPal

Payment is due upon completion of your return.

Can my tax preparation fees be deducted from my refund?

Unfortunately, no.  Your refund comes directly to you from the IRS.  We are not involved with this transaction other than to file the return on your behalf.

I just moved to Pennsylvania. Can you prepare my out-of-state return?

Absolutely.  Cloister Tax Services can prepare resident, non-resident and part-year resident tax returns for any State in the Nation.

Additional fees apply for each additional State return we prepare.

How will I know my return is ready for pick up?

When your return is ready for pick up, we will contact you by phone.

Electronic Filing

What is electronic filing?

Electronic Filing describes the method of submitting a tax return to a taxing agency (e.g. the IRS) via an electronic method.  When a tax returns is submitted electronically, it travels across the Internet to a tax agency’s server computer.

Is electronic filing safe?

Absolutely.  Electronically filed tax return information is always encrypted before it is transmitted.  Since the IRS began accepting tax returns electronically in 1991, with millions of tax returns filed electronically, there have been no reported instances of data theft.

I prepared my own taxes. Can you electronically file them for me?

Unfortunately, no.  The process of electronically filing a self-prepared return requires as much effort as actually preparing the taxes for you.  We will gladly prepare your taxes and electronically file them for you; however, we do not provide the service of electronically filing a self-prepared return.

Refunds and Payments

What’s the fastest way I can get my refund?

The fastest way to receive your refund is through Direct Deposit.  Customers who choose to have their tax returns filed electronically can have their refunds deposited directly into their bank account typically in less than two weeks.

You will need a savings or checking account into which the deposit will be wired.  Cloister needs the account number and the bank’s routing transit number in order to process the Direct Deposit.  A routing transit number can be found at the bottom of a check (deposit slips don’t usually have all the numbers we need).  If you have a savings account, please contact your bank to get their routing transit number prior to your appointment.

When can I expect my refund?

This actually used to be a pretty easy question to answer but has become more difficult for a number of reasons.  Starting in 2012 the IRS asked tax preparers to stop advising their clients about when they might receive their refunds.  While there are a number of reasons why refunds get delayed, the #1 reason lately has been fraud.  The IRS is redoubling its efforts to confirm that refunds issued are appropriate and legitimate.  An excerpt from the IRS Web site sums it up well…

…the IRS also cautions taxpayers it is increasing scrutiny of tax returns for signs of fraud. This means some tax refunds will face additional screening and review before being released, which will add time before the refund is delivered.

The IRS promises that refunds for 9 of 10 taxpayers will be issued within 10 – 21 days.  That’s a pretty wide gap!

What Cloister Tax Services can tell its clients is that in past years the vast majority of our clients who requested Direct Deposit refunds received those refunds within 10 business days after the return was filed.

What’s a Refund Anticipation Loan or RAL?

A Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL), as its name implies, is a Loan made to a taxpayer by a bank in anticipation of a refund.  The tax preparer is considered the loan agent and is responsible for handling the loan agreement between the taxpayer and the bank.  Once it has been confirmed that a taxpayer is entitled to a refund, the bank authorizes the tax preparer to issue a check to the taxpayer.  The amount of the check the taxpayer receives is typically equivalent to the amount of the refund the taxpayer is expecting, less any tax preparation fees, processing charges, and interest charged by the bank.

Does Cloister Tax Services offer RALs?

No.  Cloister Tax Services considers RALs to be a predatory lending practice.  As explained by the Credit Infocenter web site, “The RAL loans are offered at high interest rates, ranging from about 40% to over 700% APR”.  As an alternative, Cloister Tax Services offers Electronic Filing with Direct Deposit of refunds directly into a customer’s bank account.

What happens if I owe the IRS money, but can’t pay them immediately?

The first thing to remember is that a payment due on your income tax return doesn’t need to be submitted until the tax filing deadline (typically April 15th).

Get your taxes prepared early so you know how much money you’ll need to send on the 15th.  Whatever you do, even if you know you’re going to owe taxes, make certain that you either file a tax return or an extension request on-or-before April 15th.  Failure to file a return will only increase the amount you owe the IRS.

If you’re unable to pay all the taxes due on April 15th, pay as much as you can.  After you file a return the IRS will send you a notice informing you that you owe them money.  The amount due will include some interest charges.  If you’re still unable to pay the amount they’re requesting, the IRS will work with you to set up a payment plan.

Always remember that the IRS wants to work with you to help resolve your tax issues.  Choosing to ignore their notices will only complicate your situation.

If you’re uncomfortable speaking with the IRS, contact Cloister Tax Services and our Enrolled Agent will contact them on your behalf.

Enrolled Agents

What is an “Enrolled Agent” and why does it matter to me?

From the IRS Web site… “An enrolled agent is a person who has earned the privilege of practicing, that is, representing taxpayers, before the Internal Revenue Service. Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can practice before.”

Enrolled Agents (also referred to as EAs) can be your best friends when you’re attempting to resolve problems with the IRS.  Not only are EAs extremely well-versed in tax law, they are extremely familiar with communicating with the people inside the IRS.  With your permission EAs can speak to the IRS on your behalf in order to bring swift understanding and resolution to lingering tax problems.