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Accounting reviews in Cleveland

  • F
    JOE WEAVER CPA
    This complaint stems from an issue whereby Joe Weaver, CPA represented us (a small sole proprietorship) to address an IRS audit, and upon completion of his bill is more than (6) times greater than the original IRS bill.  Had we known that it would cost less (much less) to just pay the IRS, we would have done so.
    Weaver told us (via email) that we could be looking at a $12,000 IRS bill and led us to believe he could make this a ?No Change? audit for no more than $4,000.  The initial IRS bill was actually $5,890, and Weaver managed to reduce that to $506; but he racked up a bill of $37,307 for that service.  We?ve tried to settle this matter for about half that amount (still absurd) but Weaver wants us to agree to cease expressing our dissatisfaction with his services. 
    Considering that Weaver had prepared our 2012 tax return (the subject of the IRS audit) and that Weaver had prepared our prior tax returns for some fifteen years or so, it seemed to make sense that Weaver would be the best place to start to address the audit notice.
    On 6-4-14 I informed Weaver of the audit notice that we had recently received.  He said to send it to him and he would take care of it.
    On 6-10-14 Weaver requested that we provide him and another CPA (from another state) with Power of Attorney.
    On 6-11-14 Weaver provided us with a list of eleven (11) items for which he needed documentation from our records.  At that time we noticed that one item was grossly overstated.  Weaver indicated that it could have been a misunderstanding and that it could be fixed.  Over the next 16 days Weaver requested that we produce thirty four (34) different sets of voluminous documentation; much of which included cancelled checks, invoices, and statements for all expenses connected with the business and four (4) rental houses.
    On 6-23-14 Weaver required us to sign an open ended engagement letter or he would not perform any work on this audit.  That letter included another CPA (from another state); it was open ended; it provided no instructions for termination; it provided no recommendation that we seek legal advice before signing.
    We felt pressured into signing this engagement letter because of Weaver?s statement that he would not perform any work on the audit otherwise.  With the presumption that Weaver knew best how the return was prepared and that it would be a monumental task for someone else to try to ?pick up the pieces?, we reluctantly signed that engagement letter.
    On 8-25-14 Weaver was asked: (in the worst case) how much would we have to pay the IRS, how much would we have to pay him, and how much would we have to pay the other CPA.  He responded (in writing): $12,000 to the IRS or $2,500 to him + $1,500 to the other CPA.  He also informed us that if the other CPA was not allowed to work then he would withdraw as well.  We didn?t like it, but a bill totaling $4,000 is better than a bill of $12,000, so there was still a substantial benefit for Weaver to continue work on the audit.
    On 8-28-14, Weaver was provided with a check for $750 as a down payment, per his request.
    Prior to the audit, Weaver requested seventeen (17) more sets of voluminous documentation; including documentation from 1984, 1985, 1993, 1994, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013.
    Weaver also requested and I produced twenty three (23) different listings (summaries) of expenses from our records dating from 2006 to 2011.  I did all of the work to produce these summaries in excel spread sheets (with all of the numbers added up).  There was no need for Weaver to run tapes or add any time to the documents that I produced.
    On 9-17-14, Weaver met with the IRS agent for the Audit.
    Though we inquired several times about the cost, we were never given a dollar figure; instead we were told things such as:  ?we?re doing OK?, ?we?re going to give you a big discount?, ?I think you?re going to be really pleased at the outcome??  No progress reports were ever provided regarding the running total of Weaver?s bill.
    On 11-25-14 Weaver produced a bill of $19,987 for his services to date.  This did not include charges from the other CPA.  Issues were not settled with IRS.  He never provided any cost progress reports prior to this.  This was his first bill.  That is eight (8) times Weaver?s original worst case estimate of $2,500.
    On 12-11-14 I met with Weaver and explained to him that his audit bill was Orders of Magnitude beyond his initial estimate of $2,500.  At that time he offered to settle for $8,000.
    In retrospect, Weaver should have been Fired at that point.  But, Weaver led us to believe that he was just waiting for the IRS to wrap things up; and we felt that if we fired him and got another CPA that the entire process would be repeated and greatly add to the cost of this audit.
    On 12-26-14 Weaver was provided with a check for $2,500 with a letter explaining that he would be held to the $4,000 maximum that he estimated on 8-25-14; and that the balance of $750 would be paid when the audit was finished.
    On 5-4-15 Weaver informed me that he had the 2012 audit report and that there were numerous glaring errors.
    On 5-6-15 Weaver sent a letter to the IRS auditor regarding errors in IRS depreciation schedules.
    On 5-11-14 Weaver sent a letter to the IRS auditor in order to add items that he left off of the 2013 return.
    On 5-16-15 we received the initial billing from the IRS as a result of the audit (dated 5-1-14).  There were two (2) separate bills; one for 2012 and one for 2013; $3,659.30 and $2,231.09 respectively, for a total of $5,890.39.  The letter from the IRS included the specific instruction: ??tell us whether you agree or disagree with the changes by the response due date listed above.?  The due date was 6-1-15.  I emailed Weaver to find out if his letters to the IRS constituted a valid response of disagreement before the 6-1-15 deadline because I could not find a statement within his text that specifically expressed disagreement with the changes the IRS wanted to make.
    On 5-27-14 and on 5-29-14 I Faxed and mailed letters to the IRS auditor specifically expressing my disagreement with their changes.  I felt that I had to do this myself because I never did get a straight Yes or No answer from Weaver.
    On 6-10-14 I received the second revision billing  from the IRS.  The bills were $2,965.81 and $410.98 totaling $3,376 for both years 2012 and 2013 respectively.
    On 6-29-15 I received the third IRS billing revision.  The amounts were $140.28 and $389.67 for years 2012 and 2013 respectively, totaling $529.95.
    On 7-9-15 we settled with the IRS for $506 after removing penalties.
    Weaver was well aware of our dissatisfaction with his billing and our position of holding him to his $4,000 estimate (as stated in our letter of 12-26-14).  Weaver never submitted a second billing to us regarding the audit.  We did however get a copy of it after Weaver filed a complaint against us with the local Circuit Court on 7-31-15.
    The original IRS bill was $5,890.39.  We finally settled paying $506; which generates a net benefit of $5,384.39 for the services of Weaver and his CPA subcontractor.  The reduction in IRS billings seemed to focus on correcting some twenty four (24) depreciation schedules.  
    The depreciation schedules were something that we were totally unaware of prior 9-29-14 when Weaver sent some of them as an attachment to an email to me.  Weaver?s depreciation schedules included some serious errors, but not being tax experts we were unaware of those errors at that time.
    Other than that, Weaver never provided us with any depreciation schedules; nor did he discuss them with us.
    The subject year of the audit (2012) was the first time Weaver ever included a Schedule C with our tax computation, and it appears that he had a lot of difficulty with it.
    We feel that Weaver had little or no experience with an Audit of a Business for which he used a Schedule C for the first time, and that he did not have a good handle on the depreciation schedule calculations.  Perhaps this is why he informed us on 8-25-14 that if the other CPA was not allowed then he would withdraw as well.  We feel like Guinea pigs for Weaver?s ?on the job training? of how to represent a business in an IRS audit.  The value of Weaver?s services regarding this audit is absolutely no more than $5,384.39 (the amount by which his efforts reduced the original IRS bill of $5,890.59 to $506). 
    It is absurd and unprofessional that Weaver would allow his bill to exceed his estimate without providing notice to us.
    It is absurd and unprofessional that Weaver would expect us to pay more than the benefit of $5,384.39 that he provided.
    It is absurd and unprofessional that Weaver?s first and only bill provided to us would exceed his original estimate by a factor of eight (8).
    It is absurd and unprofessional for weaver to expect us to pay a bill that far exceeds his own worst case estimate of what we would owe the IRS if we did nothing; which was $12,000.
    We feel that Weaver should not be allowed to practice as a CPA in the state of Tennessee because he clearly did not have a handle on a Schedule C, depreciation schedule rules, or the ?Cost / Benefit Relationship? for his client.  His license should be revoked until he receives and passes training in the afore mentioned skills.
    - Stephen C.
  • A
    HENRY S HOLT CPA
    My family has been using Henry Holt and Associates' services off and on for years whenever we have questions about doing the long form or need an oddball Schedule (E in this case) set up for the first time. They're a well-established business and have been in the same location for decades, unlike the fly-by-night franchises that pop up in the strip malls this time of year.
    They're a small firm with either 2 or 3 accountants working under Mr. Holt who double-checks everything before e-filing. Their fee is about 1-1/2 times what a copy of TurboTax or one of the online services costs, but by the time you factor in what the online "human assistance" costs, it ends up being only slightly higher.
    - Christopher H.
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