Many client relationships start with a consultation of some sort, as you both get to know each other and you gather information to better understand their situation and their tax needs. It’s a very useful meeting on both sides, but it may leave some tax professionals wondering whether they can charge for it.

About nine out of 10 practices offer a free initial consultation, according to a recent fee survey by the National Society of Accountants. But if you do charge, when should you apply that fee to tax prep work if the prospect becomes a good client?

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