The ATLAS Navigators LLC (ATLAS) family of firms includes, but is not limited to, ATLAS CPAs & Advisors PLLC, CMMS CPAs & Advisors PLLC, ATLAS Lifestyle Planning Group, ATLAS Risk Management Group, and ATLAS Certified Payroll.
As a client of ATLAS, we ask that you please take some time to review the following information to ensure your familiarity with- and understanding of- our Billing Policies and Procedures (Billing Policy.)
We always aim to provide our clients with clear communication and transparency of expectations. The purpose of this document is to clarify and facilitate our business relationship with you, based on mutual trust, respect, and understanding. This document is designed to help you understand how we bill for the services we offer, to communicate our standard billing practices in a straight-forward manner, and to provide a simple, helpful set of expectations regarding payment to ATLAS.
Your compliance with our Billing Policy will ensure maximum benefit for both you and ATLAS, by aiding in the development of a positive working relationship.
WHAT WE OFFER
At ATLAS, we offer high-quality, professional services in the areas of tax, audit, accounting, financial planning, payroll, and more. With these service offerings, we sell our time – that is, the time expended by our team on behalf of a client, providing complete and correct services and products as requested by a client, and agreed upon by both parties. When services are rendered, our client pays for our time and expertise in caring for the professional services requested by the client, as needed for compliance requirements, and/or as established by a client-firm engagement, verbal or written.
HOW WE DETERMINE OUR FEES
The priority of ATLAS is to have a client-centric approach by customizing work so that it is personalized to the client’s specific and varying needs. Due to our in-depth approach, ATLAS does not provide free consultations. Additionally, per liability compliance, ATLAS cannot provide advice or guidance to an individual or business who has not engaged with ATLAS as a client.
At ATLAS, we bill our services based on the time expended on behalf of the client for the work ATLAS has been engaged to perform, at our regular hourly billing rates. Effective January 1st, 2023, regular hourly billing rates within ATLAS range from $90 per hour to $450 per hour.
Our team members work at variable billing rates based on experience level in years, experience level in skill, education or licensure level achieved, position in the firm, and other qualifications deemed significant by ATLAS and each individual team members’ managing partner.
It is important to ATLAS that all work be handled by the best person for the job to ensure the utmost care of our clients. Executive management will determine the proper placement of work amongst the team, to ensure the project or service is appropriately cared for by a team member whose experience and expertise meets the requirements of the engagement. ATLAS will not solely assign your work to the team member at the lowest billing rate, as your project may require the knowledge of senior staff. Whenever possible, work will be performed by the team member(s) with the lowest billing rate appropriate for the job, to ensure ATLAS is not causing any unnecessary expense to clients. However, please note that work performed by our lowest billing team members will have the requirement of a high-level review to ensure accuracy and completeness for the client.
Team work is very important to ATLAS and is a major component in the operations of this firm, as team work aids in efficiency, as well as the proper care of clients. ATLAS asks for the understanding and cooperation of clients in our decision to implement team-based client-care.
WHEN OUR FEES ARE APPLIED
All invoices produced by ATLAS encompass all time expended on behalf of a client for the work we have been engaged to perform, billed at our regular hourly billing rates. This time may include, but is not limited to, projections, estimates, tax planning, tax preparation, general accounting, audit and assurance services, advisory services, business valuation, and more. Additionally, we charge fees for our time as it relates to the following:
- Appointments for any reason, whether the client is new or existing; the timeframe is immediate (such as a walk-in) or scheduled; the meeting is in-person, phone, or virtual; and/or the meeting is at an ATLAS office or on-site with the client.
- Telecommunications and/or email correspondence resulting in 6 or more minutes of time expended on behalf of the client.
- Client correspondence, in any combination of phone, email, or other, which involves numerous communications resulting in 6 or more minutes of time expended on behalf of the client.
- Representation time, including but not limited to, court appearances, travel time, documentation collection, report preparation, and more.
- Notice work – If a taxing authority sends a letter (notice) regarding a client matter, the subject of which is not attributable to the responsible actions of ATLAS, the client will be charged our regular hourly billing rates for the notice response in writing, in person, or via telephone; plus a minimum $75.00 charge to prepare and file a Power of Attorney (POA) with the taxing authorities, allowing our team to address this matter directly with the taxing authorities on behalf of the client.
Though ATLAS provides many services which result in a product, such as a tax return, ATLAS also provides service in the form of time by assisting clients with questions or concerns via email or phone, offering valuable insight, advice, and guidance based on our professional knowledge and expertise. Thus, you see noted above that we bill for phone and email correspondence time.
Please note that if the email, phone, or other correspondence is short and does not require additional research or work, no bill will be sent. We may, however, track our time and bill for this later upon the accumulation of multiple calls or emails. Occasional correspondences will not have a significant impact on the cost of working with ATLAS, however numerous correspondences will always be reflected in our billing.
We understand clients may feel hesitant to contact us with questions if this will always result in a bill. This is why, in caring for our clients, we refrain from sending an invoice for correspondence time until the time expended on behalf of the client reaches a point at which it is reasonable to request payment. We always encourage our clients to communicate with us anytime the need arises, as seeking the counsel of a professional is always beneficial when questions or concerns arise in new or complex situations.
ADDITIONAL FEES OR EXPENSES
ATLAS takes care to appropriately account for all licensing-, software-, hosting-, or other- fees as they pertain to the client. It may be necessary at times for ATLAS to make a purchase on behalf of a business or individual client, in caring for the service(s) we have been engaged to perform. In those instances, ATLAS will bill said fees back to the client at cost. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, QuickBooks Online hosting, Expensify account hosting, and Secretary of State annual reports or renewals.
ATLAS charges a minimum $50 tech fee with each tax return prepared and filed through our system on behalf of a client. This minimal charge is applied toward client e-filing fees, which ATLAS pays in advance of our clients’ tax preparation, as well as technology updates which are necessary for the security of our system and client records.
CREATING YOUR INVOICE
We will create an invoice upon completion of the work ATLAS has been engaged to perform for any given client. In doing so, we will bill all time expended on behalf of the client, at our regular hourly rates; or bill per the arrangement outlined in the client’s personalized engagement letter.
Occasionally, we may send a “progress bill,” to invoice the work we have completed to-date, for a project that is not yet complete. This typically happens when our work involves a lengthy process, there are changes to the client’s needs resulting in an adjustment to the work being performed, and/or we must pause mid-project to gather additional information from the client.
An invoice from ATLAS will present each task, project, service, or product that was completed or prepared on a separate line, with the associated cost of said service/product next to the line item. The invoice will provide a total cost for the current invoice, will list the prior balance if a previous invoice may have gone unpaid, and will provide a total balance due combining the client’s current invoice with their prior balance, if applicable.
For clients who have more than one account with ATLAS – such as separate accounts for business and personal needs, or multiple business entities – please note, the address listed toward the top left of each invoice will identify which account the invoice has been prepared for. If the invoice is for a business, the business name will be listed with the address; if the invoice is for a personal account, the invoice will be addressed to the client personally.
Once created, the invoice will be e-mailed (from email@example.com), snail-mailed, or both, using the direct contact information that ATLAS has on file for the client. This makes it very important that our clients communicate with us regarding any changes to contact information, so that contact information is always kept current with our firm, please.
As in any business, ATLAS provides professional services and products to clients with the reasonable expectation of receiving payment in return. Therefore, our clients will notice a statement at the bottom of each invoice indicating payment is, “Due Upon Receipt.” This serves as a friendly reminder regarding our expectation that payment will be remitted as quickly as possible after an invoice is received.
In general, ATLAS expects payment will be received within 20 days of the date of the invoice. This accounts for any delays to the sending or receiving of the invoice, as well as the time it may take for a check to arrive in the mail, if a client is paying by check. To ensure more timely payment to ATLAS, we encourage the use of our secure online payment system, available through our website: www.atlasfirms.com/paymyinvoice
We understand there may be times when an invoice is missed. To ensure we are being attentive to our clients’ needs, ATLAS may follow up on an open invoice as soon as 10 days after the date an invoice is sent. This is to ensure our invoice was received by the client as intended.
We also understand there may be times when a client has a question about their invoice. We ask that our clients please communicate any questions or concerns to us directly, as soon as possible following the receipt of their invoice; or take the opportunity to communicate these matters to an ATLAS team member at the time of their follow up correspondence. If there are no questions, we kindly ask that our clients remit payment as quickly as possible toward each and every invoice, to ensure their account remains in good-standing with ATLAS.
ATLAS offers multiple options for remitting payment, providing clients with the opportunity to choose what works best for them, while ensuring timely payment.
Clients may choose to:
- Mail a check to the ATLAS office listed at the top right corner of the invoice
- Drop off a check at the ATLAS office the client typically works with (ie. If a client of ATLAS Longmont, drop off a check with our Longmont office)
- Drop off a check at the ATLAS office nearest to the client, even if this is not the office the client typically works with (ie. If a client of ATLAS Longmont, but live nearest to ATLAS Westminster, drop off a check with ATLAS Westminster)
- Drop off cash at the ATLAS office the client typically works with
- Pay with a credit / debit card or ACH online via our website (www.atlasfirms.com/paymyinvoice)
- Pay with a credit / debit card or ACH in person
- Pay with a credit / debit card or ACH over the phone
For cash or check, we ask that clients please include the payment slip from the bottom of their invoice with their payment. This helps our team make sure payments are properly applied in our system, especially if a client has more than one account with ATLAS.
TO PAY ONLINE – It is important that a client have a copy of their invoice handy, as they will be required to enter certain invoice details into our online payment system. These details are imperative to the accuracy of recording our clients’ payments in our system.
- Visit the ATLAS home page (www.atlasfirms.com) and click the bold “Pay My Invoice” link at the top.
- Select your ATLAS location from a drop-down menu.
- If you are unsure which location to select, please look for the ATLAS location listed at the top right of the invoice.
- Alternatively, determine the ATLAS location based on your client ID, found toward the top right of your invoice. Match the first 3-digits of your client ID, to the 3-digit number listed next to the location in the drop-down menu, to determine the location with which your invoice is associated.
- As you proceed through the online payment steps, please be sure to enter your email address, as this will provide you with an automatic email receipt after your payment is successfully submitted.
Invoices which age to 30-days or more beyond the date of the invoice are considered “past due.”
If full payment is not received by ATLAS within 30 days of the invoice date, please note the past due invoice will be subject to a monthly service charge of 1.5%, or 18% annually. Service charge(s) can be found on the monthly billing statements which are sent to any client with open invoices.
ATLAS will always attempt to get in touch with a client about an open invoice at least once before the account reaches 30-days. As noted above, we may contact a client about an open invoice as quickly as 10 days following the date the invoice was sent. Our goal in following up early is to ensure all clients are given a fair opportunity to pay timely, and avoid our service charge(s).
As a professional courtesy, ATLAS will continue to follow up regularly beyond 30-days, until full payment is received. Our goal with this is to help clients avoid any additional service charge(s). If the balance on an account ages to 60-, 90-, or more days beyond the date of the invoice, ATLAS will consider the client account “delinquent” and may take further action – as detailed below – in an effort to collect.
As noted above, past due invoices are subject to a 1.5% monthly service charge, which will be reflected on the monthly billing statement. We ask that clients please be attentive to the billing statements sent by ATLAS, as these billing statements will indicate whether the total outstanding balance has increased due to the inclusion of service charge(s).
We understand our clients lead busy personal and professional lives, and do our best to be conscious of this in our billing procedures. Therefore, ATLAS offers a one-time professional courtesy write-off of service charges, understanding there are times when an invoice may be missed by accident. However, beyond this, service charges are non-negotiable, will not be waived upon request, and will not be removed from the client’s account upon receipt of a payment toward an outstanding balance.
We understand there may be times when our clients are facing a difficult financial situation. When those situations arise, we ask for prompt and transparent communication from our clients.
If a client is aware they will be unable to remit payment in a timely manner due to a difficult financial situation, we ask that said client please be forthcoming, by contacting us directly as soon as possible, which may be in advance of receiving an invoice. Clear communication on this subject may be uncomfortable, but is necessary for ATLAS to appropriately care for the needs of our valuable clients. If said client does not reach out to ATLAS directly, we expect they will communicate this situation to us upon our first outreach regarding their balance due.
If communication is clear, we are happy to work with our clients regarding the timeframe for remitting payment. This is best handled by setting up a PAYMENT PLAN, as it is ATLAS policy that we do not offer deferred payment or negotiated fees. We feel that a payment plan is a fair and professional way of working with our clients if they are experiencing financial hardship, as the plan will ensure regular and manageable monthly payments are being made toward their balance due to ATLAS.
Please note, by engaging with ATLAS, you agree to remit timely payment toward every invoice, as invoices are produced for services rendered on your behalf, in progress or complete.
Therefore, payment plans are not for everybody. They are reserved for those clients who intended to remit payment timely upon engaging with ATLAS, but have since experienced financial difficulties causing an inability to remit payment timely. Payment plans are meant to serve those clients in need of a special, one-time accommodation; and we ask that all clients please be respectful of this stipulation.
Payment plans are established at the discretion of ATLAS, determined by the highest-level team member working with the client’s account, usually a Partner, the parameters of which are partially-negotiable. ATLAS payment plans are generally established with a maximum term of 12-months from the oldest outstanding invoice date. This is why it is in the client’s best interest to communicate their financial situation early, and establish a payment plan as soon as possible – the longer the client waits to discuss a payment plan, the shorter the available timeframe, and the higher the monthly payments.
Please note the following additional details as they pertain to ATLAS payment plans:
- An ATLAS payment plan is a monthly charge, starting immediately.
- Though typically a 12-month term, ATLAS may shorten or lengthen the timeframe of any given payment plan, based on the balance due and specific situation.
- ATLAS reserves the right to pause work while an account is on a payment plan, only completing those services which are required to maintain compliance for a business. This prevents the accrual of new invoices which would add to the outstanding balance and lengthen the timeframe of the payment plan.
- To establish a payment plan, ATLAS must be provided a form of payment which will be kept securely on file with pre-approval from the client, allowing ATLAS to process payment monthly in accordance with the payment plan.
- Any missed payments due to a decline against the form of payment on file, will result in a $35 NSF fee being added to the outstanding balance on the client’s account with ATLAS. This may result in an extended payment plan, which in turn may lengthen the timeframe during which our work is on hold.
- Please be aware that clients who require a payment plan will have their account placed under review for a minimum period of 12 months following the completion of the payment plan. During this time, ATLAS reserves the right to require a retainer before starting new work, require progress payments toward ongoing work, and/or require payment in full prior to completion or delivery. If the account remains in good standing, ATLAS may return to our usual billing procedures after 12 months, but reserves the right to continue these adjusted expectations at its discretion.
Our goal is always to help our clients get to a place where their payment plan can be lifted; and they are able to avoid the need for a payment plan in the future.
Payment plans are not intended to be ongoing, established routinely, or implemented regularly. Should any client request or need a payment plan more than twice in a 5-year period, then ATLAS will require a retainer for all future work.
IF AN ACCOUNT BECOMES DELINQUENT
When our clients are facing a difficult financial situation, it is important that ATLAS be provided prompt and transparent communication.
If communication is not provided, ATLAS reserves the right to take further action on a client’s account to collect on the outstanding balance. Further action may include:
- A “STOP WORK” notice may be placed on the client’s account. If this is necessary, we will discuss this with the client before implementing the “stop work,” and will inform the client of the services that ATLAS cannot attend to while awaiting payment for services already rendered. A “stop work” simply means that – until we have received further payment on the client’s account – we feel it is necessary to pause work on current projects, and will not begin work on any new projects or additional services. In the instance of a “stop work” notice, ATLAS typically requires the receipt of full payment toward the total outstanding balance before work resumes. These parameters are determined by the highest-level team member working with the client’s account, usually a Partner, and are non-negotiable.
- Please note, “stop work” notices are not strictly reserved for those clients who have failed to remit payment timely. This is also a course of action which may be taken in an effort to help a client bring their account current, if their account is continually carrying an outstanding balance, and/or the bulk of that balance exceeds 90-days, despite the client routinely making payments to ATLAS. While we greatly appreciate our client’s efforts in this case, it is not beneficial to either party for an account to always carry a balance. Therefore, ATLAS reserves the right to implement a “stop work” if we feel it is the best course of action. The “stop work” creates a timeframe during which no services are provided, and therefore no invoices are produced, allowing the client time to get caught up on their account.
- The account may be sent to COLLECTIONS. If we determine collections is a necessary course of action, the client will be informed before this step is taken. If the account is sent to collections, this is done at client’s expense, the delinquency of the account will be reported to crediting agencies, and in most cases (not all) we will consider this action a termination of our client/firm relationship. It is important that our clients understand: though this is not a decision we make lightly, it is a course of action we will take.
Our goal is always to help our clients avoid any drastic action being taken on their account. That is why ATLAS will always contact a client several times regarding an open invoice or outstanding balance before ATLAS makes the decision to take either of these actions. We aim to provide our clients with ample opportunity for communication, the remittance of payment, and/or the establishment of a payment plan.
Similar to a payment plan, it is important to note that any client placed on a “stop work” notice, or a client who has been sent to collections without termination, will have their account placed under review for a minimum period of 12 months following the receipt of full payment. During this time, ATLAS reserves the right to require a retainer before starting new work, require progress payments toward ongoing work, and/or require payment in full prior to completion or delivery. If the account remains in good standing, ATLAS may return to our usual billing procedures after 12 months, but reserves the right to continue these adjusted expectations at its discretion.