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Terms and Conditions of Services

The standard terms and conditions (Terms and Conditions) related to our provision of services to you are described below.  These Terms and Conditions, together with our engagement letter, comprise your agreement with us (Agreement).  If there is any inconsistency between the engagement letter and these Terms and Conditions, the engagement letter will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

For the purposes of these Terms and Conditions, any reference to “firm,” “we,” “us,” or “our” is a reference to Labenz & Associates LLC, and any reference to “you,” or “your” is a reference to the party or parties that have engaged us to provide services.  References to “Agreement” mean the engagement letter or other written document describing the scope of services, any other attachments incorporated therein, and these Terms and Conditions.

Electronic Data Communication and Storage

In the interest of facilitating our services to you, we may send data over the Internet, or store electronic data via computer software applications hosted remotely on the Internet or utilize cloud-based storage.  Your confidential electronic data may be transmitted or stored using these methods.  We may use third-party service providers to store or transmit this data, such as providers of tax return preparation software.  In using these data communication and storage methods, our firm employs measures designed to maintain data security.  We use reasonable efforts to keep such communications and electronic data secure in accordance with our obligations under applicable laws, regulations and professional standards.  We require our third-party vendors to do the same.

You recognize and accept that we have no control over the unauthorized interception or breach of any communications or electronic data once it has been transmitted or if it has been subject to unauthorized access while stored, notwithstanding all reasonable security measures employed by us or our third-party vendors.  You consent to our use of these electronic devices and applications and submission of confidential client information to third-party service providers during this engagement.

Client Portals

To enhance our services to you, we will utilize Thomson Reuters ONVIO, a collaborative, virtual workspace in a protected, online environment.  ONVIO permits real-time collaboration across geographic boundaries and time zones and allows Labenz & Associates LLC and you to share data, engagement information, knowledge and deliverables in a protected environment. 

You agree that we have no responsibility for the activities of ONVIO.  While ONVIO backs up your files to a third-party server, we recommend that you also maintain your own backup files of these records.

If you decide to transmit your confidential information to us in a manner other than a secure portal, you accept responsibility for any and all unauthorized access to your confidential information.  If you request that we transmit confidential information to you in a manner other than a secure portal, you agree that we are not responsible for (a) any loss or damage of any nature, whether direct or indirect, that may arise as a result of our sending confidential information in a manner other than a secure portal and (b) any damages arising as a result of any virus being passed on or with, or arising from any alteration of, any email message

Third-Party Service Providers or Subcontractors

In the interest of enhancing our availability to meet your professional service needs while maintaining service quality and timeliness, we may use a third-party service provider to assist us in the provision of services to you, which may include receipt of your confidential information.  This provider has established procedures and controls designed to protect client confidentiality and maintain data security.  As the paid provider of professional services, our firm remains responsible for exercising reasonable care in providing such services, and our work product will be subjected to our firm's customary quality control procedures.

By accepting the terms and conditions of our engagement, you are providing your consent and authorization to disclose your confidential information to a third-party service provider, if such disclosure is necessary to deliver professional service or provide support services to our firm.

Independent Contractor

When providing services to your company, we will be functioning as an independent contractor and in no event will we or any of our employees be an officer of you, nor will our relationship be that of joint venturers, partners, employer and employee, principal and agent or any similar relationship giving rise to a fiduciary duty to you.

Records Management

Record Retention and Ownership

We will return all of your original records and documents provided to us at the conclusion of the engagement.  Your records are the primary records for your operations and comprise the backup and support for your work product.  Our copies of your records and documents are not a substitute for your own records and do not mitigate your record retention obligations under any applicable laws or regulations.

Workpapers and other documents created by us are our property and will remain in our control.  Copies are not to be distributed without your written request and our prior written consent.  Our workpapers will be maintained by us in accordance with our firm’s record retention policy and any applicable legal and regulatory requirements.  A copy of our record retention policy is available upon request.

Our firm destroys workpaper files after a period of six years.  Catastrophic events or physical deterioration may result in damage to or destruction of our firm’s records, causing the records to be unavailable before the expiration of the retention period as stated in our record retention policy.

Working Paper Access Requests by Regulators and Others

State, Federal and foreign regulators may request access to or copies of certain workpapers pursuant to applicable legal or regulatory requirements.  Requests also may arise with respect to peer review, an ethics investigation or the sale of our accounting practice.  If requested, access to such workpapers will be provided under the supervision of firm personnel.  Regulators may request copies of selected workpapers to distribute the copies or information contained therein to others, including other governmental agencies.

If we receive a request for copies of selected workpapers, provided that we are not prohibited from doing so by applicable laws or regulations, we agree to inform you of such request as soon as practicable.  You may, within the time permitted for our firm to respond to any request, initiate such legal action as you deem appropriate, at your sole expense, to attempt to limit the disclosure of information.  If you take no action within the time permitted for us to respond, or if your action does not result in a judicial order protecting us from supplying requested information, we may construe your inaction or failure as consent to comply with the request.

If we are not a party to the proceeding in which the information is sought, you agree to reimburse us for our professional time and expenses, as well as the fees and expenses of our legal counsel, incurred in responding to such requests.  This paragraph will survive termination of this Agreement.

Summons or Subpoenas

All information you provide to us in connection with our services will be maintained by us on a strictly confidential basis.

If we receive a summons or subpoena which our legal counsel determines requires us to produce documents or testify, provided that we are not prohibited from doing so by applicable laws or regulations, we agree to inform you of such summons or subpoena as soon as practicable.  You may, within the time permitted for our firm to respond to any request, initiate such legal action as you deem appropriate, at your sole expense, to attempt to limit discovery.  If you take no action within the time permitted for us to respond, or if your action does not result in a judicial order protecting us from supplying requested information, we may construe your inaction or failure as consent to comply with the request.

If we are not a party to the proceeding in which the information is sought, you agree to reimburse us for our professional time and expenses, as well as the fees and expenses of our legal counsel, incurred in responding to such requests.  This paragraph will survive termination of this Agreement.

Newsletters and Similar Communications

We may send newsletters, emails, explanations of technical developments or similar communications to you.  These communications are of a general nature and should not be construed as professional advice.  We may not send all such communications to you.  These communications do not continue a client relationship with you, nor do they constitute advice or an undertaking on our part to monitor issues for you.

Disclaimer of Legal and Investment Advice

Our services do not constitute legal or investment advice.  We recommend that you retain legal counsel and investment advisors to provide such advice.

Referrals

In the course of providing services to you, you may request referrals to attorneys, brokers, investment advisors or other professionals.  We may identify a professional or professionals for your consideration.  However, you are responsible for evaluating, selecting and retaining any professional and determining if the professional can meet your needs.  You agree that we have no responsibility for and will not oversee the activities of any professional to whom we refer you.

Brokerage or Investment Advisory Statements

If you provide our firm with copies of brokerage (or investment advisory) statements and/or read-only access to your accounts, we will rely on the accuracy of the information provided in the statements and will not undertake any action to verify this information.  We will not monitor transactions, investment activity, provide investment advice or supervise the actions of the entity or individuals entering into transactions or investment activities on your behalf.  We recommend that you receive and carefully review all statements upon receipt, and direct any questions regarding account activity to your banker, broker or investment advisor.

Other Income, Losses and Expenses

If you realized income, loss or expense from a business or supplemental income or loss, the reporting requirements of Federal and state income tax authorities apply to such income, loss or expense.  You are responsible for complying with all applicable laws and regulations pertaining to such operations, including the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors and related payroll tax and withholding requirements.

Accountant – Client Privilege

Internal Revenue Code §7525, Confidentiality Privileges Related to Taxpayer Communication, provides a limited confidentiality privilege applying to tax advice embodied in taxpayer communications with federally authorized tax practitioners in certain limited situations.

This privilege is limited in several important respects.  For example, this privilege does not apply to your records, which you are required to retain in support of your tax return.  In addition, the privilege does not apply to state tax issues, state tax proceedings, private civil litigation proceedings or criminal proceedings.

While we will cooperate with you with respect to the privilege, asserting the privilege is your responsibility.  Inadvertent disclosure of otherwise privileged information may result in a waiver of the privilege.  Please contact us immediately if you have any questions or need further information about this CPA-client privilege.

Limitations on Oral and Email Communications

We may discuss with you our views regarding the treatment of certain items or decisions you may encounter.  We may also provide you with information in an email.  Any advice or information delivered orally or in an email (rather than through a memorandum delivered as an email attachment) will be based upon limited research and a limited discussion and analysis of the underlying facts.  Additional research or a more complete review of the facts may affect our analysis and conclusions.

Due to these limitations and the related risks, it may or may not be appropriate to proceed with any decision solely on the basis of any oral or email communication.  You accept all responsibility, except to the extent caused by our gross negligence or willful misconduct, for any loss, cost or expense resulting from your decision (i) not to have us perform the research and analysis necessary to reach a more definitive conclusion and (ii) to instead rely on an oral or email communication.  The limitation in this paragraph will not apply to an item of written advice that is a deliverable of a separate engagement.  If you wish to engage us to provide formal advice on a matter on which we have communicated orally or by email, we will confirm this service in a separate engagement letter.

Management Responsibilities

While Labenz & Associates LLC can provide assistance and recommendations, you are responsible for management decisions and functions, and for designating an individual with suitable skill, knowledge and experience to oversee any services that Labenz & Associates LLC provides.  You are responsible for evaluating the adequacy and results of the services performed and accepting responsibility for such services.  You are ultimately responsible for establishing and maintaining internal controls, including monitoring ongoing activities.

Conflicts of Interest

If we, in our sole discretion, believe a conflict has arisen affecting our ability to deliver services to you in accordance with either the ethical standards of our firm or the ethical standards of our profession, we may be required to suspend or terminate our services without issuing our work product.  You agree that we will not be responsible for your failure to meet governmental and other deadlines, for any penalties or interest that may be assessed against you resulting from your failure to meet such deadlines, and for any other damages (including but not limited to consequential, indirect, lost profits or punitive damages) incurred as a result of the suspension or termination of our services.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

If a dispute arises, including the scope of services contained herein, or the breach thereof, and if the dispute cannot be settled through negotiation, the parties agree first to try to settle the dispute by mediation administered by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) under the AAA Professional Accounting and Related Services Dispute Resolution Rules before resorting to arbitration, litigation or some other dispute resolution procedure.  The mediator will be selected by the mutual agreement of the parties.  If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, a mediator shall be designated by the AAA.  

The mediation will be treated as a settlement discussion and, therefore, all conversations during the mediation will be confidential.  The mediator may not testify for either party in any later proceeding related to the dispute.  No recording or transcript shall be made of the mediation proceedings.  The costs of any mediation proceedings shall be shared equally by all parties.  Any costs for legal representation shall be borne by the hiring party.

Proprietary Information

You acknowledge that proprietary information, documents, materials, management techniques and other intellectual property are a material source of the services we perform and were developed prior to our association with you.  Any new forms, software, documents or intellectual property we develop during this engagement for your use shall belong to us, and you shall have the limited right to use them solely within your business.  All reports, templates, manuals, forms, checklists, questionnaires, letters, agreements and other documents which we make available to you are confidential and proprietary to us.  Neither you, nor any of your agents, will copy, electronically store, reproduce or make available to anyone other than your personnel, any such documents.  This provision will apply to all materials whether in digital, “hard copy” format or other medium.

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