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Do you accept picture of tax statements taken by cell phone?

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    Do you accept picture of tax statements taken by cell phone?

    Your client used his cell phone to take a picture of his W-2 and then email it to you.

    Are you ok with it? Or do you require a scanned copy?

    #2
    Originally posted by AccTaxMan View Post
    Your client used his cell phone to take a picture of his W-2 and then email it to you.

    Are you ok with it? Or do you require a scanned copy?
    I prefer a scanned copy or pdf but I will accept a clear picture as long as I can convert it to a legible pdf for my archive system. Those Apple cameras are sharper than my scanner in some cases!
    Taxes after all are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. - FDR

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      #3
      Usually

      Originally posted by AccTaxMan View Post
      Your client used his cell phone to take a picture of his W-2 and then email it to you.

      Are you ok with it? Or do you require a scanned copy?
      Usually our client will send the photo of the tax document in *.jpg format. Even if this is legible on the monitor, it sometimes does not print well. If it does not print well, we advise the client to install TinyPDF (or similar) and send again in pdf format. Aside from that, we store all of our files in pdf format (oldest is from 1973) and give back any originals. We prefer to receive scanned documents rather than paper originals.
      Christopher Mewhort, EA
      mewhorttax.com

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        #4
        Originally posted by AccTaxMan View Post
        Your client used his cell phone to take a picture of his W-2 and then email it to you.

        Are you ok with it? Or do you require a scanned copy?
        No.

        General email is not secure and potential security problems (any network carrier can see clients information if not encrypted), thus your client has a possibility of being subject to identity theft. As a result, our policy is not to accept any client tax information via email to avoid us being any part of, if there may be identity theft involved. Also, it protects our firm from a "client" who may be subject to identity theft to later say, "the preparer" said it was "safe" and "ok" to send it via general email.

        Way too much and various ways of identity theft going on today and preparers are being subject to much more scrutiny and responsibility of protection of clients personal information.

        Yes...

        If you have a secured site that they can sign in and send, then yes.

        .jpeg (if readable) is fine. You can convert it to a .pdf.
        Last edited by TAXNJ; 07-03-2018, 10:01 AM.
        Always cite your source for support to defend your opinion

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          #5
          If a client is texting or emailing me a tax document (W2, 1099, 1096, contribution statement, etc), I warn them to tape a strip of paper over the SocSec number. Most do, but occasionally someone will just snap a picture and off it goes. Nothing I can do about ti if they won't follow instructions. In any event, I have no problem working from that information as long as it's a known and trusted client. And of course the info must be consistent with prior experience and reasonable for me to believe.

          I'm not taking on any new clients, but if I were, anyone claiming EIC, education credits, etc, I would only work from original documents. Also, nothing short of a sit-down in my office to gather the initial info would suffice.
          "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectful" - John Kenneth Galbraith

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            #6
            That is a good practice

            >> I'm not taking on any new clients, but if I were, anyone claiming EIC, education credits, etc, I would only work from original documents. Also, nothing short of a sit-down in my office to gather the initial info would suffice.

            I am very suspicious of hand written or type written W2 forms. Over the last 5/10 years, I must have sniffed out about half a dozen bogus ones and the purpose seems to be to maximize EITC. I still remember one woman who had a legit W2 from McDonalds but the FICA taxes withheld did not add up within rounding amounts and the taxable wage seemed to have been changed with whiteout. I asked her to go back to the employer and get a corrected W2 otherwise the chances of an audit were high and her refund would be delayed. I never saw her again!
            Taxes after all are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. - FDR

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              #7
              I never accept documents by phone message. If sent that way I ask that they dropoff or mail original.
              Believe nothing you have not personally researched and verified.

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                #8
                I "accept" or use anything I can get that's readable. I encourage clients to use FileShare or fax or drop-off. I myself use FileShare and do not email, text, or in any unsecure way, send tax information to clients. More and more of my clients (and not just the young ones) use text as they don't have scanners or printers, except maybe at work if they're not retired. Many do not trust the safety of the USPS.

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                  #9
                  Shaky hands?

                  One issue that I face routinely is people taking pictures of tax documents with shaky hands causing blurry images. I know there is software available that can fix the blurred images. Anyone use anything like that to fix blurred images?
                  Taxes after all are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. - FDR

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by Lion View Post
                    Many do not trust the safety of the USPS.
                    U.S. mail is still one of the best bargains and safest delivery methods around. I use it to pay utility bills, and return paper documents to clients, have never had a problem. I've not read any news stories either about any sudden surge in U.S. mail theft, and I'm sure anti-government political party would be all over it with hyped up fake news if there were even a hint.

                    A few people may have unsecure mailboxes that are a problem AFTER the mail is delivered, but that's not the USPS' fault.

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                      #11
                      I have been using the USPS Flat Rate 2nd Day Envelope for most of my tax return copy mailings out of state and except for one situation where it was 4 days late they arrived on time.
                      Taxes after all are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. - FDR

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Lion View Post
                        I "accept" or use anything I can get that's readable. I encourage clients to use FileShare or fax or drop-off. I myself use FileShare and do not email, text, or in any unsecure way, send tax information to clients. More and more of my clients (and not just the young ones) use text as they don't have scanners or printers, except maybe at work if they're not retired. Many do not trust the safety of the USPS.
                        I don't have any problems with the USPS. It's still a great bargain and very reliable for getting paper documents back & forth. But tax preparers who don't embrace regularly exchanging source documents electronically may as well plan for a decreasing client base in the long run - especially among their younger clients.
                        Last edited by JohnH; 07-08-2018, 08:56 PM.
                        "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectful" - John Kenneth Galbraith

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Perspectives on client tax information processing

                          As noted by ATSMAN, you really cannot beat the $6.70 flat rate envelope offered by the USPS. It has tracking numbers (you know where it is, and you can even inform client when it is "out for delivery" and/or was delivered), and anything you can stuff into the envelope goes for the same fixed amount, regardless of destination. Most deliveries are within two days. I think there is a similar "overnite" service for a much higher fee? (It's just a different USPS envelope with a different bar code.)

                          Although I have (so far) efiled every 2017 tax return I prepared, the bulk of my "papers" (including a printed copy of the tax return with client documents) are now returned in a $6.70 envelope. That would include the Form 8879. I would estimate perhaps 50% of the incoming stuff arrives the same way.

                          I also agree with JohnH's comments. . .better get on board electronically with your clients or you WILL be left behind. I have some very old clients and some very young clients, and their perspectives on things are often. . .different.

                          On point with the original post, I have received some photos of documents taken on a cell phone. Not a route I care to follow. Images are often tough to read (what THEY see is not what I get!) and printing/saving PDF files etc via that option is time-consuming.

                          With rare exceptions, usually related to poor planning on someone's part, I've never quite seen the need for getting me documents (especially of the sensitive nature) immediately. What's an extra day or two during the course of a busy tax season? My clients have pretty much learned, some the hard way, that I no longer run in circles for "rush returns." If they want such, they can always visit Jackson-Hewitt or Block, or pay much bigger bucks to a CPA. There is plenty of time during the tax season to get everything to me, and everyone gets a place in line upon arrival.

                          I do routinely urge my clients to send me emails or text messages when dealing with "procedural" questions and the like. Often that is the best route for us both. Playing phone tag can be time-consuming and unproductive, and I've definitely been known to have voicemail handle all incoming calls when things get hectic.

                          Some clients have access to encrypted email messaging (unrelated to simple "password" protection), and those more computer-literate folks have been known to send me EVERYTHING via those electronic means. That's fine with me. Our respective computers "work it out."

                          As my grandmother once said. . ."There's more than ONE way to skin a cat!"

                          FE

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                            #14
                            I use the flat rate envelopes and tracking. It's my clients, several of them, that don't trust the USPS and won't use it. If in CT, I can understand: our mail goes from our town to a distant sorting facility in CT, then to Kearny, NJ, then to Springfield, MA, then to Hartford, CT, and then to a distant sorting facility in CT, and then finally to the local PO in CT and out for delivery the following day! I receive mail from my clients in CA, CO, PA, NY, OH, MA, etc., faster than I receive mail from clients in CT.

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                              #15
                              For some strange reason USPS mail processing system is not as linear as one may imagine. I have mailed first class letters in western MA and the cancelling postmark is Hartford CT. Springfield, MA where they have a huge sorting facility is only 20 miles away.

                              Over the years I have noticed that a first class letter mailed in MA get to its destination in MA in 2 days, barring some exceptions in rural areas.
                              Taxes after all are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. - FDR

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