Frequently Asked Questions

You probably still have dozens of questions about us and our services. We’ve done our best to answer a lot of them below:

What do you cover in the free 1 hour consultation?

During the consultation, we will ask each other questions about our expectations and your needs. It is a low-pressure way for you and us to connect and discuss how we can help. You want to make sure we are right for you and we’re also making sure you’re a good fit for us.

While we may be able to answer some of your basic tax questions at this time, we will require a signed proposal and payment before providing any advice.

Are you meeting clients face to face?

We are limiting client interaction at a minimum and restricting in-person meetings due to COVID19. We are doing meetings over Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams to have face to face meetings.

What can I expect when I call or email?

We have a dedicated Client Services Coordinator whose main job is to make sure all client needs are satisfied. She’ll ask you about yourself and/or business, how we can help and send you a proposal with up-front pricing.

Once you agree to the proposal, our Coordinator will continue the onboarding process to make sure your transition into the firm is as smooth as possible.

What is SmartVault and am I required to use it?

We use a Third Party Data Management software called SmartVault – this allows you to have dedicated logins to upload your data directly to us without sending over email. We get a notification after every file has uploaded and our team will go in and make sure it gets sent to the appropriate person assigned to your project. We will also be using this software to send you copies of returns.

We do not require our clients to use the software, however that is the only software we’re using to electronically deliver tax returns. We will not send over email which is not a secured format for sending.

Can I send you files over Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, ShareDrive , etc?

The list of online storage options is endless and that leads to many problems when trying to deliver a quality product to our clients. We don’t support these options not because we don’t like them, but the volume and potential security issues with tracking multiple logins over several staff creates an administrative headache. We have found that the quality of our services increases significantly when we reduce the potential variables involved.

Also, please do not send sensitive documents over email!

What other software do you use?

We use DocuSign so you can electronically sign your tax returns if you choose. You could also just print, sign, and return to us the signature page.

We have a separate login for our online Tax Organizer (my1040data.com) which connects directly to our tax database. This means you get to review your own data that our firm has on your file before we send you the draft return. The online tax organizer has all the same questions as the paper organizer, but allows you to upload files directly and generally takes a fraction of the time to complete over the old fashioned way.

Can I receive a paper organizer? What about a printed copy of a return?

In short: yes. But please take a second to reconsider that request. Printing and then mailing documents creates unnecessary costs on our end including: Paper, Toner and Postage. Not to mention the environmental costs of printing tax returns and organizers are significant. We make sure we use FSC Certified paper products whenever possible (https://us.fsc.org/en-us/market/paper-printing).

What we’ve found is that the clients who want a printed copy of their tax return never look at them. They take them home, throw in a drawer and let it “age” for 7 years before shredding. Printed returns are full of unnecessary government forms full of bloated and duplicated information. The solution? We’ll keep the copy of your return in your SmartVault folder for you to have access to whenever you need it.

We actively push our clients to not print out tax returns. By doing so, we’ve reduced our printing costs and postage costs significantly compared to our competitors.

We’re also doing our part: Since 2018, for every ream of paper we purchase, we donate $100 to the National Forest Foundation to help plant trees here in the US (https://www.nationalforests.org/).

What is the onboarding process?

The first step is to give us a call, connect to us in chat box or reach out for a consultation by submitting our online form. Once you do that, our Client Services Coordinator will reach out and start the process.

The next step is to setup your SmartVault login and upload your prior year tax returns. We’ll use this information to complete your proposal and send for your review. Once you approve, we will send you the work invoice and list of documents and information required to start our work. At this moment you’ll also be introduced to your Client Manager on our team.

Also, we are around every day to help answer questions as they come up.

How will I know if I am a good fit for your firm?

We are currently looking for clients looking for a meaningful and long-term relationship with us as their business and tax advisor. That means that if you want us to prepare a single return or perform another small endeavor, we will tell you up front that we are not interested.

Are there any services you do not provide?

At this moment, we are not providing Auditing, Review or Financial Statement Preparation (as defined by the AICPA) in our firm—that is a Virginia license requirement that do not maintain.

In addition, we are not accepting new clients looking for Non-profit accounting or tax returns, unless they are a 501(c)6 organization.

In both cases we will refer you to other firms in the area who do specialize in the above services.

What are your rates?

We do not charge by the hour for several reasons but we default to the main two: 1) It is difficult to provide an estimate amount of time in advanced based on incomplete information and 2) We do not like to nickel and dime our clients for every email, phone call and conversation had. Our clients also do not want us to do this and we do not want you to feel the pressure that every time you click “send” you are going to get a bill.

We get around this by doing services on a flat rate only. We determine the price of the project up front and that is the price we invoice. Our goal is to never bill by the hour again!

Yeah, but how do you determine your prices?

We have developed our pricing model based on the history and experience of our firm.  Look—we want to be upfront in this process: We are NOT the lowest cost option available—we do not compete on price but on quality and service.

We also stand behind our work. If we make a mistake and it costs you penalty and interest—we’ll reimburse that penalty and interest to you. If we make a mistake and you have to amend a tax return—we’ll do that at no cost to you.

We get around this by doing services on a flat rate only. We determine the price of the project up front and that is the price we invoice. Our goal is to never bill by the hour again!

I currently don’t have QuickBooks or any other software, can you help?

Yes! Please reach out to discuss our QuickBooks Cleanup and QuickBooks Setup services to get you connected right away?

I use Excel spreadsheets to maintain my accounting records, what are the benefits to using QuickBooks?

Excel is a great program, isn’t it? It has so much power yet many small business owners don’t realize that not using an accounting software can actually hurt their business in the long run. QuickBooks allows you access to dozens of reports and other metrics and makes tax time a breeze.

If you have no experience with accounting software of any kind then that is OK too. We’re here to help and we are more than willing to set up your system, maintain your monthly books and send you the most valuable reports every month.

What QuickBooks program is best for me?

We use both QuickBooks Online and the desktop version quite a bit. In the end both software have their positives and negatives and we’ll go over this with you during our initial consultation.

Do you use any other accounting software other than QuickBooks?

Sorry, we only support QuickBooks Online and Quickbooks Desktop supported products (including Enterprise). We do not provide assistance to clients who use Deltek, Wave or other non-QuickBooks related products.

What Payroll Providers do you support?

We recommend ADP to all our clients by default. They are the industry leader and their support time and time again come out on top. Second best is Paychex.

There are dozens of payroll providers in the area—and that is the problem. None of them are perfect and they are in a race to the bottom in terms of price and what suffers is the quality of product that you receive. While we have worked with most of these payroll providers, we cannot provide support or assistance with anyone other than ADP or Paychex and perhaps QB Payroll.

Still have questions? Please call us now to discuss with our Client Services Coordinator.


Kim Shafran

Jeff Lipsey is very professional. He has prepared our tax returns for several years. He answers all questions in a timely manner. Highly recommend.

Matthew J. Bergstrom, Esq.

Lipsey and Associates provide excellent bookkeeping service. I recommend them to my family, friends, and clients.

Yasemin H.

Jeff is honestly the best!! He's efficient and responsive. Anytime my business partner and I needed anything in regards to our taxes, Jeff was able to execute flawlessly.

Edward Fishman

First time using Lipsey and associates for my 2017 returns. My previous accountant had for many years retired. Lipsey and Associates made it seamless. Available to answer questions and take care of all the issues in a timely manner. Highly recommended

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