There isn’t much room for error when preparing a client’s taxes. But no matter how careful you are and how many systems of oversight you’ve developed, mistakes and misunderstandings can occur. When preparing taxes for clients, your mistakes might not just inconvenience your customer but could also make them lose money and result in IRS penalties or audits. When this happens, you could quite easily face a lawsuit.
Professional liability insurance (E&O) covers this specific threat to your livelihood. Not only does E&O cover the cost of defending yourself against a lawsuit but it can also cover claims awarded to your clients (including for IRS penalties and interest) within limits.
E&O insurance policies for tax preparers and other professionals have two limits. One limit, the smaller of the two, is the per incident limit. This is the maximum the policy will pay out for an individual incident. The second and larger limit is the per policy limit, which is the maximum total payout in a policy year for all claims. Your policy will also have a deductible that you must pay out of pocket for each claim. Higher deductibles will reduce the cost of your premiums, but they can create a larger financial burden on you if you have multiple claims in a year.
In addition to professional liability insurance, tax preparers should protect their business property through a commercial property insurance policy. This will provide some general liability coverage in the event that an individual is injured or their property is damaged on your premises. The policy will also provide some compensation when your building or contents are damaged in a covered incident.