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Old 21.02.2018, 12:18
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Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

Hello
I moved into Switzerland and Vaud area in Sep 2016, and work for a Company on a local contract with a B permit.
My taxes are deducted at source. However, the tax authorities of Vaud sent me a letter to file my returns. I then sought advice and on recommendation of a friend and collegaue consulted this Agency in Geneva
I have not signed any contract with them,just requested for a quote and the guy told me he cannot do so without seeing my papers.
Papers sent and he asks for no additional details and informs me that he will ask Vaud tax authorities if my childrens private school fee can be considered as expat allowance. Obviously he knew this is not possible,and tax authorities refused. So after another couple of days he prepares my return annualising the school fee ie. he multiplies by 3 the fees (eg 25Kx3+ 75K) though this is a one time payment/year and is stated clearly in my contract, which he had a copy of already.
Anyway I disagreed with him and he redid the return that was submitted, asking us to pay 13K CHF taxesand despite my several requests refused to provide me the fee structure.
Now he sends me a long fee letter quoting several tasks like meetings, which I never had despite requests to do so (he said it is fine and he can do this remotely and no meeting was required)
Can you imagine the shock when I see a bill for fee...3400 CHF::sad: for tax returns for 4 months in 2016, with only salary as the source of my income and no foreign funds/investments.
What is my recourse now. I do not have funds to pay this ridiculous amount and I read on the forum that if I ask clarification, I can get charged for that as well.

Many thanks for any help!!
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Old 21.02.2018, 12:45
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

A note about the "13k" taxes... this tax advisor does not ask you to pay taxes: the tax authorities do after you submit your return.

If you did not submit yet, get it checked by someone else. It should be 100-200 CHF only for a tax return. In fact get it checked anyway.

A 13k tax bill is madness unless you are earning way above average.
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Old 21.02.2018, 13:02
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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A note about the "13k" taxes... this tax advisor does not ask you to pay taxes: the tax authorities do after you submit your return.

If you did not submit yet, get it checked by someone else. It should be 100-200 CHF only for a tax return. In fact get it checked anyway.

A 13k tax bill is madness unless you are earning way above average.
Thank you so much gbn!
Absolutely, what I meant was that the tax return filed by this guy amounted to us having to pay a tax of 13K. My income is average and not way above the limit
I have not signed any agreement with this consultant, I asked him to inform em of his fees and he said he could only do that after he has seen my papers and after that he repeated that he can only confirm fees after he finished filing the return(have emails as proof). My concern is what to do next? I am getting it checked by another consultant anyways.
Tried calling him for checking and he does not pick my calls. Do you suggest sending him email or a letter to clarify details as there is no break up of the services he provided on this bill
Greatly appreciate your feedback!
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Old 21.02.2018, 13:38
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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T
I have not signed any agreement with this consultant, I asked him to inform em of his fees and he said he could only do that after he has seen my papers and after that he repeated that he can only confirm fees after he finished filing the return(have emails as proof).
Oh dear, it sounds to me that there was a misunderstanding of expectations and practices.

Did you specifically ask for a quotation or an estimate, or did you ask the preparer simply 'what will it cost to do my return?

Given what you have written, it sounds to me as if the preparer did not understand that you wanted a quote, but rather a final price - hence his comment above.

If he said 'after he finished filing the return' that would seem to me to be an indication that he thought he had your authorization to do the work.

What was your response to this comment? Did you clarify that you did not want the work done until you had an estimate?

Unfortunately if the work has already been done and you were aware that it was being done (as per his comment in the mail), arguing against having to pay his fee could be difficult.

HOWEVER, I am not conversant enough with Swiss law, and the only knowledge I have is based on having tripped over this kind of thing with service providers myself. I could be off base, take my comment with a grain o' salt.

Hopefully one of the EF legal eagles will be along soon with more knowlegable advice.

---

As to whether or not the tax liability is in the ball park:

Have you run your numbers against one of the tax calculators? (Comparis, for example.) These are quick-and-dirty, but they usually give a fairly decent ballpark estimate. If a calculator comes up with something close to the preparer's number I'd probably not waste money on a second preparer's opinion. But if the quick calculator comes up with something significantly different definitely look for a second preparer.

Do be aware that Quellensteuer and normal taxation often come up with very different tax liabilities, as QS is based on a cantonal average tax rate and an average estimated deduction, while NT is based on your commune tax rate and individual situation.

Last edited by meloncollie; 21.02.2018 at 13:54.
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Old 21.02.2018, 14:21
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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Oh dear, it sounds to me that there was a misunderstanding of expectations and practices.

Did you specifically ask for a quotation or an estimate, or did you ask the preparer simply 'what will it cost to do my return?

Given what you have written, it sounds to me as if the preparer did not understand that you wanted a quote, but rather a final price - hence his comment above.

If he said 'after he finished filing the return' that would seem to me to be an indication that he thought he had your authorization to do the work.

What was your response to this comment? Did you clarify that you did not want the work done until you had an estimate?

Unfortunately if the work has already been done and you were aware that it was being done (as per his comment in the mail), arguing against having to pay his fee could be difficult.

HOWEVER, I am not conversant enough with Swiss law, and the only knowledge I have is based on having tripped over this kind of thing with service providers myself. I could be off base, take my comment with a grain o' salt.

Hopefully one of the EF legal eagles will be along soon with more knowlegable advice.

---

As to whether or not the tax liability is in the ball park:

Have you run your numbers against one of the tax calculators? (Comparis, for example.) These are quick-and-dirty, but they usually give a fairly decent ballpark estimate. If a calculator comes up with something close to the preparer's number I'd probably not waste money on a second preparer's opinion. But if the quick calculator comes up with something significantly different definitely look for a second preparer.

Do be aware that Quellensteuer and normal taxation often come up with very different tax liabilities, as QS is based on a cantonal average tax rate and an average estimated deduction, while NT is based on your commune tax rate and individual situation.
Sure there was some misunderstanding... but let's be honest - most small tax shops will make a simple return for 200 CHFs in CH. Maybe double that for good measure... still is nowhere near 3400 CHF. What sort of hourly rate did he apply and how many hours did he work on a simple tax return? I'd challenge him directly and if he insists threaten with legal steps. Thats pretty close to fraud in my eyes.
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Old 22.02.2018, 10:14
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

It is clear that he is trying to screw you by taking advantage of your apparently very naive nature. I mean seriously, why would you send your documents to someone if you didn't expect them to do the work? Simply to look through them would be a chargeable effort on the their part.

Anyway, have you tried calling him to discuss this? You need to challenge him, and speaking to him on the phone, or even visiting in person, is the best way to do that vs simple emails.
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Old 22.02.2018, 12:08
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

At least his fee is tax deductible- or did he miss that??
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Old 22.02.2018, 12:15
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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Tried calling him for checking and he does not pick my calls. Do you suggest sending him email or a letter to clarify details as there is no break up of the services he provided on this bill
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Anyway, have you tried calling him to discuss this? You need to challenge him, and speaking to him on the phone, or even visiting in person, is the best way to do that vs simple emails.
From her post it seems that calling him was exactly what she tried to do but without success. Registered letter or visit in person would seem like the best option if he's not picking up the phone.


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Absolutely, what I meant was that the tax return filed by this guy amounted to us having to pay a tax of 13K. My income is average and not way above the limit
I suspect that the 75K of school fees are what gave rise to the increased tax burden as they are classed as a taxable benefit.

The fee is astronomical for a standard tax return and the fact that there is no breakdown of costs is dodgy.
We were once quoted 3000chf by KPMG to do our tax return, needless to say we declined their offer and went to a tax accountant who only charged us 120chf to do the job.
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Old 22.02.2018, 12:18
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

if your employer pays the school fees then this is taxable income. the fee needs to be added to your income and you will have to pay additional taxes as this was not included in the tax at source.
i can't judge if 13k is correct but the payment itself seems to be valid.
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Old 22.02.2018, 12:22
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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I suspect that the 75K of school fees are heat gave rise to the increased tax burden as they are classed as a taxable benefit.

The fee is astronomical for a standard tax return and the fact that there is no breakdown of costs is dodgy.
We were once quoted 3000chf by KPMG to do our tax return, needless to say we declined their offer and went to a tax accountant who only charged us 120chf to do the job.
Unless you are a large business, why would you even consider asking one of the Big Four to do your tax return?
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Old 22.02.2018, 12:25
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

You had some good advice already. I don't know if mine will be good but I say refuse to pay and if he insists, tell him you will go to the Friedensrichter.

I guess he saw you are sending your children to the private school and he is trying to fleece you.

Good luck.
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Old 22.02.2018, 12:28
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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Unless you are a large business, why would you even consider asking one of the Big Four to do your tax return?
Indeed. KPMG were paid by OH's company to do ours for the first couple of years as his job was split between Belgium and Switzerland.
Once he was permanently employed here and they were no longer paying we had the option of paying them ourselves or getting someone else to do it for us. We chose the latter for obvious reasons.
We got the tax advisor to do it the first year but I've been doing it myself ever since. Once you know what goes where it's pretty easy really.
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Old 22.02.2018, 12:39
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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if your employer pays the school fees then this is taxable income. the fee needs to be added to your income and you will have to pay additional taxes as this was not included in the tax at source.
i can't judge if 13k is correct but the payment itself seems to be valid.
Exactly. 75,000.00 in school fees, if they are paid for by the employer, then 13,000 extra tax would be about right (if the accountant managed to get some other expenses tax deductable). But sure, 3,400.00 is a ridiculous amount to charge for a simple return.

OP, if he's not taking your calls or replying to emails, send him a registered letter demanding an explanation of why his fee is so high.
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Old 22.02.2018, 22:46
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

I have been doing my own Vaud tax on paper for a decade. I can't use their free Vaudtax software for technical reasons. It is true most expats use a mandataire. But unless you own property (Appendix 7) or have lots of Annex 1 & 2 assets and debts the price asked of you is incredible. The more so since you asked for a quote in advance. I know how to deal with such people, and they usually go away following my native French insults.
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Old 23.02.2018, 02:11
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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At least his fee is tax deductible- or did he miss that??
Next year
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Old 25.02.2018, 14:04
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Dear All,
Thank you very much for the very useful replies. It has helped me understand my situation better and I was naive enough not to be firm with receiving a quote.
He is obviously trying to fleece me. I did run a check on the website and got a very small amount as tax. The guy tripled the school fees (25K) received in the quarter we arrived, despite telling him and my contract stating this is a once yearly payment.He made the initial tax return with this 75 K and I refused it saying this was wrong, so he redid this with 25 and threatened me that the tax authorities will not accept it. Anyway this is now submitted to the Tax authorities.
I will definitely challenge him and seek help from the company HR if possible.
However, please let me know your inputs on the following:
-I have a valid personal liability insurance upto 1000000CHF. Will this help pay my legal fees if any?
-This company called Plafida has charged me fees upto Dec 2017. Should I send them a letter that I no longer wish to collaborate with them to avoid any further charges. So I can deal with any further communication regarding this declaration with the tax authorities myself

Sincerely thankful for your support and advice!

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Sure there was some misunderstanding... but let's be honest - most small tax shops will make a simple return for 200 CHFs in CH. Maybe double that for good measure... still is nowhere near 3400 CHF. What sort of hourly rate did he apply and how many hours did he work on a simple tax return? I'd challenge him directly and if he insists threaten with legal steps. Thats pretty close to fraud in my eyes.
Thank you very much!

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if your employer pays the school fees then this is taxable income. the fee needs to be added to your income and you will have to pay additional taxes as this was not included in the tax at source.
i can't judge if 13k is correct but the payment itself seems to be valid.
Thank you!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.02.2018 at 17:22. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 25.02.2018, 16:01
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

A top accountancy firm will charge 500-1500 an hour depending on the person doing the work, I take it a large international firm was involved, in which case the fees are nothing special.
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Old 25.02.2018, 16:24
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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A top accountancy firm will charge 500-1500 an hour depending on the person doing the work, I take it a large international firm was involved, in which case the fees are nothing special.
Dear fatmanfilms, this firm name is Plafida and is no international one.. I approached them on recommendation of a colleague in a similar situation as I and he was charged around 350 CHF for the same duration tax declaration last year. Would their fees increase by 10x in a year is the ridiculous question.
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Old 25.02.2018, 17:51
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

This fee is not unreasonable (and wait before you all hang me to dry) but actually quite reasonable for this firm. Apart from corporate work, their target market is 250k + home owner with an investment portfolio. If anything the fault lies with the person who introduced you.

From reading what I have yours is a relatively straightforward return and my suggestion would be to use a Vaud based firm maybe in or near where you live. Expect to pay a little more for the first visit and provided your circumstances are the same maximum chf 500 from there on.

Now how to deal with Plafida. You will not win. Sorry to shatter any illusion but they will give it to their in house lawyer to pursue, and even if you take a lawyer your chances of winning are slim and you'll then end up paying more.

My advice is to call them up, thank them (through gritted teeth) and say you want to settle this matter. Explain the 3,500 is beyond your means and try to settle for 2,000, maybe 2,500. Also ask if you can pay in 5 monthly instalments of chf 500. They'll likely accept just to get rid of you and maybe your colleague can help if he or his firm does business with them.

Good luck.
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Old 25.02.2018, 18:15
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Re: Exorbitant tax consultant fees- What are my options!

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I then sought advice and on recommendation of a friend and collegaue consulted this Agency in Geneva
So what have these two to say for themselves. Surely the must have some idea of the fees charged?
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