Ripped off by a Steuerberater

47 posts in this topic

I also am interested in "firing" my tax advisor, but because I've been misinformed more than twice now, and today I found out I have to pay 4K, when back in March it was zero. That's quite a difference. I'd like to hear from fellow TTers if anyone else has had experience with louse tax advisors or been misinformed.

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Anyone knows if it is true that Tax Advisors here are only allowed to charge an amount based on the income of the tax payer? I have a feeling we paid too much for the tax advisor (>900 euro), based on what I know would cost for a similar situation in US; however, I don't know the German system well enough to be sure. Thanks for your input!

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[adminmerge][/adminmerge]

 

Hi!

 

I need some advice how to react to my Tax Advisor's letter informing me that she is not open to my request querying her latest invoice. Additionally she has made it clear that she will not continue to support me any further and that if I don't pay her invoice within 7 days, she will resort to taking further steps.

 

My request to query her invoice was based on the fact that I was not in agreement with the hours she charged me for a recent task regarding getting exception from paying Gewerbe tax, she had originally positioned me wrongly dating back to 2007. Not being able to support me adequately despite my frequent requests, to get me off the Gewerbe status, I finally resorted to the help of another advisor last year who prepared the argumentation for the Finanzamt and submitted it to me in order to help my existing tax advisor to use this when submitting my tax declaration 2011. The long and the short of it all is that the majority of the work was done by my new tax advisor and yet the 'old' one has claimed the full hours for it and sent me a bill for just over 800 euros. The new tax advisor was also shocked to learn of the invoice charge and agreed with me that it was far too high. (In the meantime, the Finanzamt approved the argumentation and I don't have to pay Gewerbe tax anymore, thanks to the work of my new tax advisor).

 

I wrote to my existing tax advisor requesting to give me time on the phone to discuss the invoice as I was clearly not in agreement for this high cost. She ignored my request for a few days and today I received the letter stating her demands. What I found totally unreasonable of her is that she has categorically refused to give me the opportunity to discuss and clarify it. What is worse is that she has also prepared my tax declaration 2012, but not quite finished it as she was awaiting additional information from me. Now, she has made it quite clear that she will retract the 'Vollmacht' from the Finanzamt within the next days and is no longer willing to support me/work with me. ( Note: I have queried her invoices in the past too whenever it was necessary and she would always get very defensive ). With evidence of her extreme unreasonable behaviour, my fear is that she will not complete my tax declaration 2012 and yet will immediately send me her bill for work done on it so far. Can she do this? Can she really leave me hanging with my 2012 tax half done?

 

I would be grateful for advice on how best to fight this.. My current tax advisor has mentioned in the past about taking complaints to the Steuerberater Kammer. As my current tax advisor is away and I cannot contact her until in a week's time, I was wondering if anyone out there can tell me what level of support I can expect from the Steuerberater Kammer. , I can't really afford a lawyer at the moment. Unfortunately I don't have a Rechtschutz.either.

 

Thanks!

AD

PS: I have queried her invoices in the past too whenever it was necessary and she would always get very defensive

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Well as to the 2012 query did you ask your tax advisor to do this is or did they automatically assume it.If so tell them you did not ask them to do it and will not pay.It would appear that in the past you have paid up too easily.Query the bill for € 800 telling them you will not pay in full as your demands were not met.If they come back with the reasoning that they did the work them you can argue that it was done incorrectly ast another professional got the results you wanted and they did not.You do not pay for work done incorrectly.

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@ Mike, yes I did ask her to do my Tax declaration 2012 in spring this year when the Gewerbe issue was non existent and I told her she might as well do this for the last time as I was planning to leave Germany. Additionally, having been my tax advisor for the past 10yrs in total, she was also charging me a preferential rate, quite below the market rate and that was also reason for sticking with her to complete everything. Anyway, it's done now. And yes, you are somewhat right that in the past I paid her invoices too readily. How were you able to see that - am curious ;-). For your further info, last year she was supposed to send the Gewerbe argumentation to my Tax Declaration 2011. She didn't quite attach it but declared non Gewerbe in the income tax declaration part baed on the validity of the argumentation. Then when she received my income Bescheid, she assumed I was in the clear for the Gewerbe. I asked her in Jan this year if all was ok and she responded that yes it seems the tax office has accepted it. Then in June this year came the letter from the tax office enquiring about my Gewerbe declaration and pointed out to her that putting a note about it in the income declaration part was incorrect and the needed more evidence. She made an appeal and she was ticked off for making an invalid appeal ie you can't appeal against something that has not been correctly positioned. That's when I asked my new tax lady to intervene again and she persuaded the 'old' one to react to the tax office by using the original argumentation. Of course the new tax advisor could have taken over, but they said it will be confusing for the tax office why now a new advisor is intervening and it will also highlight incompetency of the 'old' one. I also re-iterated all this in my conversation to my tax advisor's partner on the phone and she agreed to go forward. The thing is she knows all this and continues to behave unreasonable and has the cheek to send me the bill for 800 knowing there is another tax advisor in the background who can vouch for the entire scenario. She really must think I am stupid ;-)!

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My request to query her invoice was based on the fact that I was not in agreement with the hours she charged me for a recent task regarding getting exception from paying Gewerbe tax, she had originally positioned me wrongly dating back to 2007. Not being able to support me adequately despite my frequent requests, to get me off the Gewerbe status, I finally resorted to the help of another advisor last year who prepared the argumentation for the Finanzamt and submitted it to me in order to help my existing tax advisor to use this when submitting my tax declaration 2011. The long and the short of it all is that the majority of the work was done by my new tax advisor and yet the 'old' one has claimed the full hours for it and sent me a bill for just over 800 euros. The new tax advisor was also shocked to learn of the invoice charge and agreed with me that it was far too high. (In the meantime, the Finanzamt approved the argumentation and I don't have to pay Gewerbe tax anymore, thanks to the work of my new tax advisor).

 

I wrote to my existing tax advisor requesting to give me time on the phone to discuss the invoice as I was clearly not in agreement for this high cost. She ignored my request for a few days and today I received the letter stating her demands. What I found totally unreasonable of her is that she has categorically refused to give me the opportunity to discuss and clarify it.

I think at the core of the problem lies that fees were not properly discussed upfront between you and the "old" tax advisor. Which is in the end the fault of both sides.

However, you have every right to ask her to fully detail and explain the disputed invoice for you:

 

 

 

 

Nora Schmidt-Kesseler von der Bundessteuerberaterkammer erklärt: „Der Steuerberater ist gesetzlich dazu verpflichtet, seine Rechnungen detailliert aufzuschlüsseln“. Er muss Angaben darüber machen, wie hoch der Wert des Gegenstandes der beruflichen Tätigkeit war, die einzelnen Gebührentatbestände benennen sowie die Auslagen und Vorschüsse bezeichnen. Die Berechnung muss einwandfrei nachvollziehbar sein

Source: http://www.handelsblatt.com/finanzen/recht-steuern/steuern/ueberhoehte-rechnungen-was-betroffene-tun-koennen/7129452-3.html

 

Furthermore, you should tell her that if she is not willing to explain and discuss this with you, you will take the invoice to the local "Steuerberaterkammer" (perhaps with the support of your new tax advisor, stating what he had already done for this particular case?). The Kammer offers a cost free service to this regards to double-check her bill for you:

 

 

Wenn einige Posten komisch erscheinen, sollte zunächst natürlich zuerst das Gespräch mit dem betroffenen Steuerberater selbst gesucht werden. Kommt hier aber nichts raus, sollten Betroffene sich zwecks Überprüfung der Steuerberater-Rechnung an Dritte wenden. Die Steuerberaterkammern bieten hierfür ein kostenfreies Verfahren an

Good luck

Cheerio

I am a professional independent insurance broker, financial adviser, and authorised advertiser. Contact me.
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From what I can see.. your Old Accountant has done most of the work for 2012... You pissed them off by asking questions...

 

You had to get another Accountant to do 2012 tax return...

 

Why do you feel that you shouldnt pay for the old one who , by your own admission had done the work!?

 

Are they doing your tax return or are they doing "book keeping" for you too?

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@SpiderIg ... I think you've got the wrong end of the stick.

 

Am not disputing payment of 2012 Tax Declaration. My question was, given the saga concerning the Gewerbe topic task, and my rightful query of her invoice and then her subsequent refusal to act as my tax advisor anymore, I asked if she can leave my tax declaration 2012 partly done? Of course she has the right to invoice me for the work done so far, but my question was can she drop me with only part of the declaration done?

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@ SpiderPig : PS: yes they also do my book-keeping? Am curious why you asked?

Btw, the new tax advisor has nothing to do with tax declaration 2012.

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I cant see a reason why she cant drop you like a hot potatoe..

 

If someone really pisses me off or pisses me about, then they get dropped too!

 

You havent answered my question, are they doing your tax returns or book keeping duties too?

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It might be worth considering making a payment of the amount which you think should be owed for the work.

 

This way, if it does go further then you can show that you are willing to pay and have in fact paid for work performed, and the dispute is about the amount of hours charged being unreasonable and not the fact that you just don't want to pay. And then you can argue from a stronger positon that they are trying to charge you for work they did not (or were not authorised to) perform.

 

And it also might be worth going to a lawyer already, or at least start looking for one.

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Starshallow, I just PM'd you further on this topic. Can you check your mail pls.

 

Cheers!

 

AD, that is not how the forum works. You introduced a scenario and received valuable public responses. Taking the further discussion to PMs means that others who may need help in a similar situation have to start from the beginning instead of benefiting from information that should be available to all members.

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Generally speaking, can one sue a Steuerberater for doing a crappy job AND charging significantly more than initially discussed?

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You're an employee, so your tax return should be straightforward and the fee based on your gross total yearly income, the only variable being the multiplicator (from 0.1 to 0.6, depends on how "difficult" your case is).

 

The fee is fixed by law, see Beispiel 2 in here for an example for an employee. The "Tabelle A" mentioned in there can be found here.

 

So, no, as long as the fee was calculated correctly, you cannot sue him/her.

If you suffered a financial loss because of a mistake he/she made, his/her professional liability insurance will pay up.

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Well, considering his fee was three times the tax refund I got, I would call the result of his actions a rather significant financial loss for me.

 

I understand your point though, thanks for coming to the rescue - as always. Will give the guy a call tomorrow to see what he can say to his defense.

Looking at the links you posted, it seems he charged me 3/10 for the Einkommensteuererklaerung and then another 1/10 for Anlage N. However, it seems that for Anlage N he applied the cost for the total income, i.e. basic income (supposedly already paid for as the 3/10 of the regular fee above) plus the additional deductions. Is this normal?

 

To get an idea of his "skill" (or lack thereof): I had to mention the Umzugspauschalenkosten (that I read about on TT) for him to include them in the statement. He had forgotten, apparently.

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Well, considering his fee was three times the tax refund I got, I would call the result of his actions a rather significant financial loss for me.

 

Not that kind of loss ;)

Stuff like forgetting something in your tax return, and that because of that mistake you had to pay more income tax than you should have.

 

I take it your guy couldn't get you the doppelte Haushaltsführung deduction that he said he could?

Well, told you your chance there was slim to none, sorry.

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True, but nonetheless - me, a foreigner, without financial training, telling HIM what he should write in the tax statement he is PAID to write?

Moreover, it seems absolutely none of the other deductions were applied - zero, nada, nichts. I'm really looking forward to the chat tomorrow.

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Have a look here for an example with different multiplicators for the different Anlagen.

 

And yes, some tax advisors are more capable than others, but the rule of the thumb for employees is that there is so little that they can get back, that a Steuerberater almost always costs more than the possible refund.

That's why I advise employees to join a Lohnsteuerhilfeverein and have them do their tax return for them - they're cheaper than Steuerberater.

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